Priebus to Newsmax: Obama 'Out of Touch With What It Takes to Be a Leader'

Friday, 02 Aug 2013 06:42 PM

By Todd Beamon and Kathleen Walter

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President Barack Obama "continues to be out of touch with what it takes to be a leader in this country," Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, tells Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.

"There's one thing the president has done pretty well, and that's having the American people judge him not by the things he does, but by the things he says," Priebus tells Newsmax. "He's good at talking and we know that. He thinks governing is campaigning and community organizing.

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"Once you get elected, then it's time to lead this country," he adds. "And it's not easy, but you do have to sit down with the Speaker and you have to sit down with the leader in the Senate — and sometimes you have to bang some heads together. This president is incapable of doing it."

As the GOP turns its attention to upcoming budget negotiations for the next fiscal year, many on Capitol Hill are suggesting the embattled Obamacare program be defunded, even if it risks shutting down the federal government.

Editor's Note: Should ObamaCare Be Repealed? Vote in Urgent National Poll

Among the leading advocates of this position are Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz of Texas.

"There is total consensus and agreement that Obamacare needs to be defunded," Priebus tells Newsmax. "Obamacare shouldn't be put in place. It should be delayed, defunded, ended — or stopped. There's total agreement within the Republican Party — and a lot of Democrats now, too, on that issue.

However, "What you're debating is a tactic, and tactics are things that as chairman of the party I don't make judgment calls on," he adds. "While I agree that we shouldn't spend a nickel of taxpayer money on Obamacare, you also have to look at the tactic of shutting the government down and whether or not that tactic is going to be successful.

"This is a debate about tactics, but you have consensus in our party that we should not be funding something that the president himself has already declared half broken. I don't think the American people want this program. They're with us, and we need to drive this message home."

Looking to next year's Senate races, Priebus tells Newsmax the GOP may very well pick up more seats as Democrats from many red states retire. Democrats control the upper chamber, 52 seats to 46. The Senate has two independents — and they caucus with the Democrats.

"It looks very, very strong right now," he says of the Republicans retaining control of the House. "And the reason why it looks very good in the Senate is that we've got about six states where Barack Obama didn't win 42 percent of the vote.

"If you look at Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia — just right there, you're looking at states where Barack Obama did a terrible job in November. We're going to have strong candidates.

"We're putting a ground game in there right now to make sure that we're competitive, and that's what we need to do. We need to take one day at a time, too, here at the Republican Party, but we also have to continue to improve, get bigger, get better, and make sure that we can capitalize on 2014 and then build even bigger to 2016," Priebus says.

"That's something that this party hasn't done enough of over the years."

In his wide-ranging interview with Newsmax, Priebus says:

  • The public bickering between Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is not healthy for the Republican Party. "We don't have the luxury to divide and subtract in our party," he says.
  • Immigration reform is not dividing the GOP. "What you have is a consensus in the party that we need immigration reform and everyone agrees on it."
  • He is not troubled that Liz Cheney is challenging longtime Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi in next year's GOP primary. "These are healthy debates."

Editor's Note: Should ObamaCare Be Repealed? Vote in Urgent National Poll

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