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The new Republican National Committee has two close Trump allies at the helm

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

First, former President Donald Trump swept all but one of the Super Tuesday primary contests. Then the Republican National Committee installed his hand-picked team as its new leaders, including his daughter-in-law as co-chair. This move streamlines the relationship between the candidate and party apparatus as the general election approaches. NPR's Franco Ordoñez, who's covering the campaign, has the story from Houston.

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RONNA MCDANIEL: The chair will now call this meeting to order.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Outgoing RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel gave an emotional goodbye speech thanking her family, her husband and President Trump before endorsing his leadership team.

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MCDANIEL: President Trump deserves to have the team he wants in place at the RNC.

ORDOÑEZ: Elected to replace McDaniel as chair is Michael Whatley, who chaired the North Carolina Republican Party and is the RNC general counsel. His new co-chair is Lara Trump, the former president's daughter-in-law. After being voted into the position, Whatley thanked Trump for his trust and support.

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MICHAEL WHATLEY: There is no one who has been more focused on fighting for the American people. And I am grateful for the opportunity to work with him to win and help revitalize our great nation.

ORDOÑEZ: Speaking in a grand ballroom in downtown Houston, Whatley called the next eight months one of the most important election cycles ever, and he promised to work hand in glove with the Trump campaign in order to win up and down the ballot.

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WHATLEY: Which means that the Republican National Committee will be focused like a laser on getting out the vote and protecting the ballot.

ORDOÑEZ: As co-chair, one of Lara Trump's roles will be fundraising, and she didn't mince words explaining what the RNC needed to do.

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LARA TRUMP: We have one goal. The goal on November 5 is to win, and as my father-in-law says, bigly.

ORDOÑEZ: And she painted a stark picture of the stakes.

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TRUMP: I think everybody in this room understands the battle, right? This isn't just about right versus left, Republican versus Democrat. It's about good versus evil.

ORDOÑEZ: Well, having someone with Trump's own last name in such a high position has raised eyebrows, it's not unusual for a nominee to move quickly to install key lieutenants. It ensures his influence over the organization. It also gives Trump greater control over party resources, including access to finances, staff and donor lists.

CYNTHIA HENRY: The new leadership is inspiring.

ORDOÑEZ: Cynthia Henry represents Alaska on the committee.

HENRY: Michael Whatley is someone we know well. He's been a part of the RNC. I think Lara Trump is going to be a phenomenal fundraiser for the party, for the committee.

ORDOÑEZ: Solomon Yue from Oregon says it's good to have these party issues resolved so Republicans can close the fundraising gap that they have with Democrats.

SOLOMON YUE: This means we are going to do lots of catch-up and - on the fundraising side as well on the GOTV side, and also turn out the votes.

ORDOÑEZ: Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, who now leads the Michigan GOP, says having the leadership team in place just makes it easier to move forward.

PETE HOEKSTRA: So that we use every minute between now and when early voting begins and Election Day to get our message out. Why should you vote Republican? What difference does it make to the American people if we have Republicans in charge versus the Biden administration?

ORDOÑEZ: And he says the sooner they start delivering that message, the better off Republicans will be in November.

Franco Ordoñez, NPR News, Houston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.