Priebus: GOP Is Missing 'Emotional, Cultural' Connection to Voters

Wednesday, 20 Mar 2013 01:38 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Wednesday that the party must overcome the perception that it "does not care about people” to be successful in national elections.

Appearing on MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown," said there's no other explanation for the GOP's lack of decisive wins in national elections over the past 24 years than its failure to connect with voters at an emotional level.

“Look, we’re not losing the issues on the math,” Priebus said. “We’re not losing the issues on spending, and debt, and jobs, and the economy.

"Those are total winners for us," he continued. "But what we found in the [2012] election is that while we’re winning those arguments on spending and math, we’re losing this sort of emotional/cultural vote out there in presidential elections.”

He insisted it was the reason Republicans lost the women and minority vote last November.

Priebus released an RNC report Monday laying out plans for more state and local party-building and community outreach efforts aimed at making Republican candidates more competitive in next year's midterm congressional races and in the 2016 presidential election. He was careful to note, however, that there would be no change in the party's basic conservative stands on most issues.

But he said Wednesday he expects the party to become more inclusive and more tolerant of differing opinions in order to attract more support.

“I think our party needs to have the attitude that if I disagree with you on one issue, it doesn’t mean that you’re a lousy Republican,” Priebus said. “It means that you’re a good Republican. It means that we agree on most issues, and it means that we need to unite our party.”

Priebus defended the GOP's efforts aimed at upholding the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and woman. But he suggested that even that position could be open to discussion, given the fact that some prominent Republicans, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, have voiced their public support for same-sex marriages

“I know what our principles are, and I know our party believes that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Priebus said. “But I also know that we have a party that’s going to be inclusive and is going to listen to people.”

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