The Republican chairwoman has warned anyone who chooses not to embrace Donald Trump’s agenda “will be making a mistake”.
Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, raised alarm bells and critics argued she had adopted a threatening tone.
Her tweet compounded existing concerns over the Trump administration’s perceived co-ordinated efforts to crush any dissent.
Ms McDaniel, niece of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, said: “Complacency is our enemy. Anyone that does not embrace the Donald Trump agenda of making America great again will be making a mistake.”
The tweet, which has been shared over 1,000 times, has sparked consternation and anger on social media.
“Some say McDaniel is talking about GOP candidates like Sanford… and not Americans generally… but that doesn’t matter. This language is troubling… and its even more troubling without context,” said journalist Yashar Ali.
Ms McDaniel, who has been described as “unfailingly loyal to Trump” by The New York Times, reportedly listened to the US president’s request that she stop using her maiden name and now chooses not to use it in official communications.
Under Ms McDaniel’s leadership, the RNC set up a website in April 2018 which attacked and tried to undermine former FBI Director James Comey – branding him “Lyin’ Comey”.
Ms McDaniel’s tweet comes a day after Representative Mark Sanford, an outspoken critic of the president, lost his primary election.
The South Carolina Republican, who publicly challenged Mr Trump – sparking a last-minute Twitter attack from the president – was defeated by a more conservative opponent.
His opponent, a pro-Trump state legislator named Katie Arrington, branded him a “Never Trumper” in campaign ads and managed to get an endorsement from Mr Trump just hours before polls closed.
“Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA (make American great again). He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina,” Mr Trump tweeted, referencing the congressman’s 2009 affair.
He added: “I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!”
Many of the most outspoken critics of Mr Trump in the Republican party are leaving Congress after their current term – including Mr Sanford, Senator Bob Corker, Senator Jeff Flake, Representative Ryan Costello and Representative Charlie Dent, who retired last month.
Lawmakers have been subject to a steady stream of White House controversies.
In February, a study found the pace of resignations, firings and other departures from the Trump White House is twice what it was in George W Bush’s first year as president and triple that of Barack Obama’s first year in office.
According to the study done by Kathryn Dunn Tenpas of the Brookings Institute, more than one in three Trump administration staffers have left the White House in its first year. This pace significantly surpasses the rate of departures in the previous five administrations.
Mr Trump has been accused of adopting an authoritarian style of leadership and regularly launches into barbed attacks on the media whom he refers to as “fake news”.
Last month, Mr Trump suggested he could “take away credentials” of media organisations over negative stories about him.
“The Fake News is working overtime.” the US president tweeted. ”Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake).
“Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”
One of Mr Trump’s most brazen attacks on the media arguably came when he posted a video of himself body slamming CNN on Twitter last July.
He appeared to promote violence against the news network by tweeting an old video of himself performing at a 2007 World Wrestling Entertainment professional wrestling match but with his opponent’s face covered with a CNN logo.
The billionaire property developer has reportedly spent time in the White House watching cable TV in his bathrobe and marking up negative news stories with a black sharpie.
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