Priebus Vows to Hit Back if Biden Trip Disrupts RNC

Wednesday, 22 Aug 2012 08:05 AM

By Martin Gould

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Republicans are vowing to hit back at Democrats if vice president Joe Biden’s trip to Tampa disrupts the opening days of the GOP’s national convention.

Biden and his team are trying to steal a little of the Republicans’ spotlight with the stunt which will see him in Florida next Monday and Tuesday.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus warned Biden’s trip — which is seen as unprecedented — could backfire. "I'm a big believer in: if they punch us, we put on the brass knuckles and punch back," Priebus told Buzzfeed.

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Priebus said it is “pretty common” for each party to “play with” the other’s convention and the GOP has the advantage of being the first this year. "The nice thing about going first is that whatever they do to us, we can do ten times over to them."

With the Democrats due to gather in Charlotte, the week after Tampa, he would not rule out the possibility of some heavy hitting Republicans being in North Carolina. "You never know where we are going to be," Priebus said.

Biden’s visit became clear on Tuesday when his advance Secret Service team was spotted en route to Tampa. The Democrats later confirmed that he will be in town on Monday and Tuesday, the first two days of the Republicans’ jamboree.

Priebus said he had no message for the vice president. "It wouldn't matter, because if I had a message for Joe Biden, he's not capable of staying on message, so it doesn't matter."

In the past, parties have usually allowed each to take the spotlight for the week of their convention, using the time to rest up and refine their message for the final few weeks of the campaign.

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Biden’s visit is unlikely to deflect too much from the spotlight of the convention’s opening day when speakers will include candidate Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, House Speaker John Boehner, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. It is also the day that property mogul Donald Trump has promised a “surprise event.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is due to give the keynote speech to the convention on Tuesday night.

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