Clay and Buck

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Ned Ryun on How Republicans Win Elections: Ballots Out, Ballots In

18 Nov 2022

BUCK: Let’s talk about winning, as in how we win close elections, because it’s absolutely essential. You know, we’ve been drilling down on this one. I want to bring somebody into the mix here who’s both a good friend of mine, close to President Trump and his top advisers and knows what it means to put a ground game in place and how elections are won. Our friend Ned Ryun, he is the founder of American Majority. He is with us now. Ned, always appreciate having you.

RYUN: Yeah, I know, good to be on with you, Buck. And there have been a lot of questions and a little soul searching since last Tuesday. And I think I have come up with the conclusion of what actually happened and what we should be doing moving forward.

BUCK: I know you’ve got a piece that’s going up shortly, and I don’t want to get too much of it out there on the air because I want you to be able to publish it and then direct people to it. But you write in this piece that, “After sifting through a lot of rubble since last Tuesday and having done some soul searching on even basic knowledge of politics, I’ve come to a few conclusions. American politics has entered a new age. All that has gone before — polls, historical trends, message, issues, candidate quality, traditional get out the vote, debates, persuasion — mean almost nothing and is extremely insignificant.”
Tell us what you mean.

RYUN: So, after Virginia last year, where I’m at, I’m based in western Loudoun County, obviously ground zero and school board fights and a blue state. I mean, Biden won the state by ten points in 2020. And then last year, we beat them. We beat the Democrats on every front. We took the governor. We took lieutenant governor. We took attorney general. We took the House of Delegates in what I would describe as a more traditional go and find the mid to low propensity voters. Get them to the polls, you win. And we won. We won everything. And I think that really led to me and others being overconfident coming into 2022. Based off those results, it led us to have the wrong conclusions that we could beat what they put in place in 2020 with what we did in 2021.

I think there were two things that came out of that, Buck. I think we were overconfident. I think we had the wrong conclusions, and I think the left got panicked. I think they redialed in their efforts from 2020 and said, we’re going to really figure out our early mail-in, absentee ballot, ballot harvesting approach. And they did. And that’s why I say we’ve entered into a completely new era in politics.

Notice, Democrats were not debating. I mean, it was very limited debate. Katie Hobbs never even debated in the gubernatorial in Arizona. Shapiro never debated in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial. Very odd behavior, because they realized that the new era of politics is ballots out, ballots in machine. And as appalling as some might find it, I think that is the game. There is no way you’re going to win as a Republican in 2024 in the presidential I don’t care who you are. I’ve told others that if the sky opened and Jesus came down and ran as the Republican nominee, I’m not sure he could win if he didn’t have a ballot out, ballot in machine. And I think we have to really come to grips with that and go moving forward for the next two years, we better put in place that machine or I think we’re going to see more losses in 2024, even though I truly believe most of the American people agree with us on the economy, on inflation, on a lot of these cultural issues, we will not win unless we get the functional aspect of this down, and I intend to do that over the next two years.

BUCK: So, Ned, you were at Mar-a-Lago, I think it was on Tuesday for the announcement. Right? And President Trump, I don’t want to overstate this or whatever. Ned’s a humble guy. He probably wouldn’t say this. But President Trump likes and trusts Ned because Ned knows what he’s talking about on this stuff and he obviously runs American Majority. Ned, does President Trump get it? And is he on board because he’s already announced, does he understand what you’re talking about here with how it has to happen? Does he already get the message? And what would it look like? So, this is kind of a two-parter, right? Does Trump get it right? And then also, just more generally for the Republicans, for any Republican running in any race, what does it look like to get this right?

RYUN: So, there are a couple of things. First of all, yeah, I was there, did not meet with Trump personally, but I haven’t informed Susie Wiles who will — she’ll be running the campaign, even though I think Chris LaCivita will have the campaign manager title. Susie Wiles is the power behind the throne. We’ve missed connecting over the last couple days. I want to have this conversation with Trump and with Susie and others that if you do not commit to this vocally and with significant funds, I think we’re in trouble.

I think anybody who wants to run in 2024, if they do not commit to this, will be in trouble. We can have the best issues. We can have the best candidates. We can have everything going in our favor. If we do not commit to this, we will lose. And I think that’s part of the message. And I think I want to see some real commitment to that, not only financially but vocally, because I think there’s going to have to be an education cycle in which we get more of the grassroots buying in. I think a lot of them have already bought in, Buck. I do know that there’s some resistance and hesitation, but it has to happen.

BUCK: And why don’t we expand on that for a second, Ned? Because even I get, you know, constant there’s this constant feedback I get from from this audience all across the country, people writing in, you know, sending me Facebook messages, emails, and I do I read a lot of them. I don’t always get all of them, but I do read a lot of I think people are surprised how many I read. And there’s this sense of, well, there’s the hesitation to want to do what has been done by Democrats, even if we all agree that it’s legal. Right. It is actually by the letter of the law. I’m not talking about the illegal shenanigan stuff. That’s a separate conversation and we can have that one. But for the “I don’t want to do the ballots out ballots in strategy,” meaning, you know, registration, mail out the ballots, mail in the ballots, harvest the ballots, all of that. What’s the hesitation? Is it just tradition? Is it just a sense that it shouldn’t be this way?

RYUN: I think there’s a real hesitation about — it shouldn’t be this way it is. And I’ll even mention this in my new piece that you alluded to that it’s going to run. I think people go, well, this is corrupt, this is ripe for fraud. This is ripe for all sorts of shenanigans. Yes, 100%. And then my next question is, how do you intend to actually do anything differently and change the laws in places like Michigan, where they control everything, in Pennsylvania and all these other important Rust Belt states? You can’t do it unless you actually adopt their strategy.

BUCK: What would it look like? We’re speaking to Ned Ryun of American Majority. Ned, what is it? What happens if we get people to heed the message here and you get the grassroots activists for the GOP that, you know, you get conservative activists mobilized in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Georgia, you name it. What are the things that they’re doing and how do they do it?

RYUN: It looks like Florida and another aspect of this piece will be Buck, ask yourself, how did Republicans win in a state that until very, very recently was a D-plus registration state? That was Florida until literally the last year. How did Republicans keep on winning for decades? They embraced the fact that I think it’s 30 to 40% of Florida votes by mail and has for years. They’ve adopted their strategies to an early voting mail-in absentee ballot chase approach.

There’s no ballot harvesting of ballot boxes, to be clear, in Florida. But a lot of these main aspects have been perfected by Republican operatives in Florida, many of whom I know, Susie Wiles being one of them, her team. I think what it looks like is implementing a lot of the Florida Republican plan in Arizona, in Nevada, in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, persuading the greatest grassroots this has been done. It is fine. We must embrace it. If we do not, we will lose.

Then we can have the conversation, Buck. Once we gain political power and we have to gain political power, we can have that conversation about what we do moving forward. If we really want to see our elections in America look like this. That’s the second conversation. You cannot have it until you have the first conversation and embrace the first approach, which is ballots out, ballots in. And, as you kind of mentioned, that includes voter registration.

You’ve got to get more names on to the actual voter rolls. You’ve got to get county clerks, Republican county clerks, universal mail out, even if they’re not requested, mail out a ballot to everyone in your county. And then you’ve got to have a targeted approach to collect them. The other thing I’ll tell you too, here in L.A. County, because it’s legal, Cornerstone Church, where I attend was ballot harvesting last year. Churches need to ballot harvest, gun shows need to ballot harvest. All of this needs to take place where it is legal. We have to embrace it. I don’t see any other way to win in the short term.

BUCK: Check out Ned’s piece going up soon. We’ll put up a link as well at ClayAndBuck.com so you can easily find it. Ned, important work and appreciate your analysis as always, my friend. We’ll talk soon.

RYUN: Sounds good. Thanks, Buck.

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