Reince Priebus says the Republican Party has become a "part-time party" and that "there's some big changes" in store for the Grand Old Party.
"What's happened over the last several years at the RNC is that we have become, unfortunately, an organization that has shown up about once every four years, five months before an election," the Republican National Committee chairman told former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on his Fox News program Saturday.
Priebus, 40, who was elected to another two-year term in January, said that the committee was working to remedy that by becoming involved in diverse communities throughout the nation.
"The things that we're trying to do very differently sound reasonable and intelligent — but I can promise you, that's what's not been going on — is we’re putting in place in as many communities as possible … long-term, full-time engagement in African-American, Hispanic, and Asian communities across the country.
"We've also got to be in every battleground state nonstop — and I think that's where we've been getting killed," Priebus added. "We've got a $35 million data upgrade in helping us speak to and identify and segment different voter communities."
The improved database, along with an emphasis on greater minority and community outreach, were among the recommendations in a study released last year
by the RNC of what went wrong during the 2012 presidential election.
Huckabee, a 2012 presidential contender, devoted Saturday's program to a discussion of issues affecting the GOP and how it could win the Senate in this fall's congressional elections and the White House in 2016. Those included diversity, Obamacare, and social issues.
Priebus told Huckabee that the RNC was working make minorities more visible in the party.
"We've done a great job in getting Hispanic governors, African-American senators exposed," he said.
Priebus was referring to Govs. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada — and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican in the upper chamber of Congress.
"But you know what? We've done a lousy job bragging about it — and we've got to do better," Priebus said.
The chairman also emphasized the changes that the RNC discussed
at its January meeting, including moving the party's convention to June and shortening the calendar for presidential primaries in 2016.
Priebus also named a panel to study cutting the number of debates from the record 22 before Mitt Romney was nominated in 2012. The panel is expected to recommend that no more than eight debates be held for 2016.
The issue is expected to be address at the RNC's spring meeting in Memphis, Tenn.
"I just think six months of slicing and dicing ourselves in front of the general public and the liberal media is a joke," Priebus told Huckabee. "I believe that having 23 debates and a traveling circus in front of liberal moderators is another joke that is going to come to an end.
"We're going to reduce the number of debates — and by the way, we're going to pick the moderators and debate partners, not the other way around," he added. "That's something we have to change in our party."
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