AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — In Washington, Republicans had been coping with a burgeoning disaster of their ranks, with high-profile resignations and bitter infighting over the right way to cope with an erratic and remoted president. However on the Republican Nationwide Committee’s winter assembly on Friday, most celebration members had been working in a parallel universe.
In a chandelier-adorned ballroom on the seaside Ritz-Carlton right here, there was no point out of President Trump’s disruption of the coronavirus aid bundle or his telephone name to the Georgia secretary of state demanding that he assist steal the election, each of which contributed to Republicans’ shedding management of the Senate.
And whereas the R.N.C. chair, Ronna McDaniel, condemned the assault on the Capitol, neither she nor some other speakerso a lot as publicly hinted at Mr. Trump’s function in inciting a mob assault on America’s seat of presidency.
Even because the president faces a doable second impeachment continuing, this collective train in gaze aversion was not essentially the most putting a part of the assembly. Extra revealing was the explanation for the silence from the stage: Celebration members, one after one other, mentioned in interviews that the president didn’t bear any blame for the violence on the Capitol and indicated that they wished him to proceed to play a number one function within the celebration.
“I absolutely embrace President Trump,” mentioned Michelle Fiore, the committeewoman from Nevada, the place Republicans have misplaced two Senate races and the governorship since 2016. Ms. Fiore, who was sporting a Trump-emblazoned vest, mentioned the president was “completely” a optimistic pressure within the celebration.
The fealty to Mr. Trump was made plain on Friday when the state chairs and the committeemen and ladies who make up the R.N.C.’s governing board unanimously re-elected Ms. McDaniel, Mr. Trump’s handpicked chair. Additionally they reappointed her co-chair, Tommy Hicks, who was first appointed to his publish due to his friendship with the president’s eldest son.
Mr. Trump is the primary president since Herbert Hoover to preside over the lack of the White Home, the Home and the Senate in a single time period and would be the first since Andrew Johnson to boycott his successor’s inauguration. That hasn’t but fazed the Republican rank and file.
“This room, they’re in denial, and that’s on the report,” Invoice Palatucci, a committeeman from New Jersey, mentioned throughout a break within the Friday session, acknowledging the “injury executed to the nation” and the Republican “model” this week.
However Mr. Palatucci was a lonely voice of dissent, at the least in public.
Privately, a gaggle of Republican officers, largely these from the pre-Trump institution wing of the celebration, mentioned that they had been appalled by the president’s conduct and that Ms. McDaniel had been candid in regards to the celebration’s difficulties behind closed doorways.
These Republicans predicted with extra hope than confidence that after Mr. Trump was out of workplace, the ardor for him within the conservative base would cool.
But for now, the flames nonetheless burn.
“I might like to see him go into states which have some Home seats we will flip in ’22,” mentioned Terry Lathan, the Alabama G.OP. chair, who mentioned “completely not” when she was requested if Mr. Trump bore any blame for the assault on he Capitol.
When a committee member took an off-the-cuff survey on whose closed-door speech on Thursday members had favored higher, that of Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota or of Nikki R. Haley, the previous United Nations ambassador, the response was clear. The celebration officers most well-liked Ms. Noem’s, as a result of she had not criticized Mr. Trump as Ms. Haley did in her remarks, a Republican accustomed to the sampling mentioned.
Earlier within the day on Thursday, when the president briefly known as right into a breakfast assembly, he was greeted by applause. And when the Missouri nationwide committeeman, Gordon Kinne, mentioned on the breakfast that he was a supporter of the president however had been upset by his feedback in regards to the violence on the Capitol, he was met with a typically frosty response, in keeping with one other committee member within the room.
The loyalty to Mr. Trump ends in half from the turnover on the committee throughout his time period. The president’s prime political lieutenants intervened to install loyalists in state and native G.O.P. conventions forward of 2020. The aim was to forestall any celebration rule modifications that would have made it simpler to mount a main problem towards Mr. Trump, however the finish consequence was to go away the committee heavy with Trump devotees.
The modifications additionally accelerated a pattern that pre-dated Mr. Trump’s rise: the evolution of the committee from a physique stuffed with canny political professionals and energy brokers of their states to at least one dominated by dogmatic partisans well-marinated in Fox Information and Fb memes.
Maybe extra vital, the president has fostered a brand new wave of activism on the precise — and plenty of longstanding G.O.P. leaders worry alienating these newcomers to celebration politics.
“We will’t exist with out the folks he delivered to the celebration — he’s modified the path of the celebration,” mentioned Paul Reynolds, the Republican committeeman from Alabama. “We’re a unique celebration due to the those who got here with him, they usually make us a greater celebration.”
Reta Hamilton, a committeewoman from Arkansas, mentioned Mr. Trump ought to play “a number one half” within the G.O.P. sooner or later for simply that cause — “to convey his voters,” she mentioned.
Ms. Hamilton and different R.N.C. members additionally sought to rationalize questions in regards to the injury to the Capitol and the pictures of Trump banners and Accomplice flags littering the constructing.
“What was your response to Black Lives Matter looting and robbing and killing folks?” she shot again openly earlier than strolling away.
Steve Scheffler, a committeeman from Iowa, was equally fast to invoke final summer season’s at instances damaging protests over racial justice and the information media’s protection of them.
“Why doesn’t the press condemn the violence that occurred in Portland and Seattle?” mentioned Mr. Scheffler. “It’s a double customary.”
Requested if he felt there was an equivalence between the left-wing protests of 2020 and the violent try to subvert the election this week, he mentioned: “Two wrongs don’t make a proper. It’s all unhealthy.”
In her remarks to the committee, Ms. McDaniel, the niece of Senator Mitt Romney, thanked Mr. Trump for his religion in her and by no means straight acknowledged that Mr. Trump had been defeated, solely referring to her frustration at “shedding vital elections.”
As for the president’s personal denial about his loss, she didn’t rebut the conspiracy theories he has pushed, and that the celebration’s base has echoed.
Addressing the Republican “grass roots,” she vowed to work with state legislatures to “be certain that what we noticed on this election by no means occurs once more.”
Ms. McDaniel went on to criticize the hassle by Home Democrats to withdraw gender-specific phrases like “spouse” and “husband” from the rule ebook governing the chamber.
The standing ovation she obtained was a reminder that disdain for the left’s perceived excesses is essentially the most animating, and unifying, pressure on the precise. This model of oppositional politics may assist paper over Republicans’ challenges once they run because the out-of-power celebration subsequent 12 months.
Certainly, a lot of Ms. McDaniel’s speech was Republican pink meat. There have been warnings towards socialism, assaults on the 4 liberal congresswomen generally known as “the squad” and boasting in regards to the numerous class of lawmakers who helped the celebration achieve Home seats in November regardless of Mr. Trump’s broad unpopularity. “Candidates matter,” she mentioned, alluding to new lawmakers.
David Bossie, considered one of Mr. Trump’s advisers and the Maryland committeeman, insisted that the celebration’s losses had been on the margins.
“You don’t should throw out all people when there’s nothing basically unsuitable,” Mr. Bossie mentioned.
A handful of committee members, nonetheless, imagine extra reflection is desperately wanted, significantly after this week. “We’re whistling previous the graveyard,” mentioned Henry Barbour, the Mississippi committeeman, who known as Mr. Trump’s conduct earlier than the riot “completely unacceptable.”
Few of his counterparts, although, would criticize the president.
Requested if Mr. Trump was nonetheless the efficient chief of the G.O.P., the Wyoming Republican chair, Frank Eathorne, mentioned, “The best way Wyoming sees it, sure.”