In an urgent conference call this week with major donors, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel pleaded for more funds to prop up struggling GOP Senate candidates, Politico reported — even as Donald Trump sits on $120 million in contributions.
“We absolutely have better candidates and a better message,” McDaniel reportedly insisted in what appeared to be a rebuttal of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) complaint last week about the lack of “quality” of some Republican Senate candidates.
“But we do need financial firepower to drive our effort,” said McDaniel, who was joined by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), according to a recording obtained by Politico of a 36-minute call on Wednesday.
McDaniel claimed that small donors had been “decimated” by the economy, so the GOP has to depend even more than it usually does on wealthy backers. She also said the Republican-hailed overturning of Roe v. Wade has massively boosted contributions to the Democratic Party and its candidates, Politico noted.
“Please help us invest in these Senate races. … Give to any of these Senate candidates, all of these Senate candidates if you can, so all of them can be on TV,” McDaniel reportedly pleaded.
McConnell conceded last week that the Senate might not be as easily retaken by Republicans as initially expected.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell told reporters, according to NBC News. “Senate races are just different — they’re statewide. Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”
McConnell didn’t specify which candidates he believes are challenged in regard to quality.
His dig, however, reflected increasing frustration in the GOP about controversial Republican Senate candidates with little or no political experience, championed by Trump, who won primary elections but are stumbling in general-election polls. Those include Mehmet Oz, who’s running against Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman; Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, who’s running against Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan; and former football star Herschel Walker, who’s running for the Senate in Georgia against incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock.
Trump responded to McConnell’s quality comment on Truth Social by calling him a “broken down hack” — and demanded he support the candidates.
Complaints, meanwhile, are building among Republicans that other millions raised in contributions have mysteriously vanished or been wasted as candidates move into the homestretch of the midterms. And Democrats have vastly outspent Republicans on campaigns in recent months.
Even though Trump’s support doesn’t seem to be winning the race for his candidates, the GOP — and McConnell — are not giving up the fight. The super PAC controlled by allies of McConnell, the Senate Leadership Fund, is specifically committing $28 million in a bid to save “Hillbilly Elegy” author Vance, who’s having a tough time raising funds.
Republicans are expected to spend a total of $193 million on the GOP campaigns in the next months, with the Senate Leadership Fund — which can collect and spend unlimited sums, as long as it does not directly coordinate with campaigns — picking up 80% of that tab. Democrats have booked $217 million worth of airtime.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.