Facing harsh criticism for the GOP’s candidate preparation ahead of last month’s disappointing elections, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus acknowledged on Tuesday that the party can do a better job of inspiring future candidates “with love.”
“The RNC cannot necessarily pick winners and losers, but all members of this team can do a better job of training, better job of communicating,” Priebus told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “At the end of the day, Wolf, we have to put together the mechanics and the infrastructure necessary so that four years from now we have absolutely the best possible product that's not as good as the Democrats, but better, so that a presidential nominee can plug into something that I think is going to be vastly improved.”
That may mean that voters who were already weary from the long presidential campaign may have more to hate in 2016 — particularly if they are Hispanic.
“My guess is, at the end of this you're going to have an RNC and a Republican team that decides that we need to get a whole lot more granular in our approach across the country — which means that we're going to have to be in a four-year cycle, having lots of people around the country doing registration drives in Hispanic communities, going door to door, going to community events, going to naturalization services, and then coming up with a system of how you measure that success over a four-year period of time,” explained Priebus.
The RNC on Monday announced an inquiry to look at what went wrong in 2012's presidential election and how the GOP can respond to the nation's shifting demographics and adopt smarter political strategies.
Priebus invited a group of five respected party leaders to examine how the GOP can better talk with voters, raise money from donors and learn from Democrats' tactics.
The group, known as the Growth and Opportunity Project, will also look at how campaigns are best organized and deployed, how they can work with independent groups such as super political action committees, and how the party should approach the 2016 presidential primaries as part of a top-to-bottom review.
The RNC has come under intense scrutiny since President Obama rode a wave of 11th-hour voter support to defeat Republican challenger Mitt Romney and win another four years in the White House despite only modest gains in unemployment and poor economic growth over his first term.
Former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey charged on Monday that some GOP candidates said "stupid things" that party leaders should have taught them to avoid saying. He also said Republicans had a lot of candidates who did "dumb things" during their campaigns.
Armey, who until recently led the conservative group FreedomWorks, was most likely referring to controversial comments about rape by GOP Senate candidates in Indiana and Missouri that contributed to their defeats in November. Republicans had been hoping to win control of the Senate but ended up losing seats instead, and they lost strength in the House as well.
Popular Republican Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana accused the party of promoting a “dumbed-down conservatism.”
Priebus acknowledged the validity of such criticism and said that the advisory committee would look at overall improvements that the GOP can make going forward.
“This is not a committee to recommend policy changes to the leadership in the legislature. We have a platform. But I do think that messaging plays a role,” Priebus explained. “I think candidate recruitment — what to say and how to say it — I think we can inspire with love and I think that that's something that we can do a better job of.”
He pointed to former President Ronald Reagan’s success in conveying Republican ideals to voters.
“These are things that I think the party can look at to improve in the years to come and that's what this committee is going to do,” added Priebus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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