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RNC Shake-Up Draws Inspiration from Reagan’s Playbook

via NBC News
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Donald Trump recently proposed installing loyalists in leadership roles at the RNC, including supporting Michael Whatley as chair and Lara Trump as co-chair.

While some Republicans criticized this as too personal an imprint, Trump’s plan mirrors actions taken by Ronald Reagan after effectively winning the 1980 GOP nomination.

Biographer Lou Cannon wrote, “Reagan opted for a course favored by [top campaign adviser Ed] Meese, which was to keep [Bill] Brock as chairman, while installing his own man as chief operational officer at the Republican National Committee.”

“[New Hampshire Reagan leader Jerry] Carmen, who had written a report highly critical of Brock’s performance and loyalty, wanted the job, but even [Reagan Campaign chair and Nevada Sen. Paul] Laxalt realized this wouldn’t work. So the Reagan man at the committee turned out to be….Drew Lewis, who had held the line for [Gerald] Ford in Pennsylvania during the 1976 campaign but was now considered a Reagan loyalist,” he continued.

“The compromise gave Reagan the best of both worlds, avoiding a shake-up that would have been seen as a swing to the right, and putting one of the few seasoned politicians in the Reagan camp in the strategic political post at the National Committee,” explained Cannon.

Like Trump, Reagan opted not to replace the RNC chair, instead installing his own operative as chief officer to oversee operations.

Reagan also eventually named his daughter Maureen as co-chair, paralleling Trump’s proposal for Lara Trump.

By avoiding a shakeup at the top but positioning trusted allies strategically, Reagan’s and Trump’s approaches achieved a similar balance that gave them influence without seeming like too drastic a partisan takeover.

Trump’s RNC moves echo a compromise strategy successfully used before him.

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