Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus declared in an exclusive Newsmax TV interview that the GOP of the future is going to be larger, better organized, proactive, financially strong and diverse.
“In order for us to compete, our team, whether it be the RNC, whether it be soft money, whoever it ends up becoming or joining in a collaborative effort, we can agree that it’s … not just going to be a couple of people,” Priebus, who took over the chairmanship in January 2011, tells Newsmax.
“We may need hundreds of people. We may need hundreds of people year after year after year — and not just doing registration and not just convincing, but going to community events, going to swearing-in ceremonies, coming up with a system that can use metrics to measure how many voters we did sign up, how many events did we go to — do we have a table at every event possible in this community? That’s what I’m talking about.
“And whether it be that, African-American communities, Asian communities, that’s where we’re heading — and that’s where you’re going to see the RNC in the future.”
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The RNC is going through an extensive post-mortem in light of the drubbing the Republican Party took in the November election, Priebus said. Given that the committee was $25 million in debt when he came aboard, the former Wisconsin Republican Party chairman is well pleased with how far the committee had come.
“What you find is that in the nine months that the campaign had to actually compete, they did a good job. The problem is the other side did a great job for four years,” he said.
“There’s plenty of blame to go around, but certainly a committee that, from a standing start, was at $25 million in debt, couldn’t make payroll — we were using my own credit card to pay for travel for staff and me for the first couple of months because both credit cards were suspended,” Priebus added. “We went from that to a committee that raised more money than any RNC in the history of the RNC, did more voter contacts than in both 2008 and 2004 combined.
“In the 18 months that this committee had, everyone would say the best was done. That being the case, four years from now, we want to be 10 times bigger and 10 times better. If you compare the RNC versus the Democratic National Committee, it’s night and day.”
Another factor was that the RNC was greatly outspent by the Democrats and the Obama campaign, Priebus said.
“If you don’t have the money to do voter registration and some of the things that you would like to do in the off year and, instead, you’re trying to just survive for a year to get ahead and then raise the presidential trust money into the convention, it’s tough.
“All of the work that needs to be done from nothing, it affects you because while you’re doing that, Team Obama is spending a couple hundred million dollars while we’re digging out of debt.
“The point is, though, we’re one entity. We’re not the campaign,” Priebus added. “I don’t think people think the RNC is supposed to go head-to-head with the entire Democratic world, all the soft money, the DNC, Team Obama, the 527s. I don’t think that that’s what people are expecting.
“But the expectations are now without a candidate — and the fact that it’s just us standing — people expect us to lead, and that’s what we’re doing. The fact is we have to lead. We have to show the way. We have to develop all of the things that we need to do over the next four years. We need to lay them out. Here’s our vision. Get the grassroots and our donors to buy into it. And take the bull by the horns.”
As for reaching out to minority voters, Priebus sees the naming of South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott to succeed outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint as a great leap in this direction.
With his appointment by Gov. Nikki Haley, Scott, 47, becomes the first black senator from the Palmetto State since the late 19th century. He will be the only African American in the U.S. Senate.
“I’m really excited about Tim — and he is a great guy and he is a gentleman. He is smart, and he’s going to be a good leader — and it helps us to show that there’s diversity in the party,” Priebus said. “We have had a lot of success, and we’ve had a lot of diversity in our party in regard to folks that have been out there, especially in the media and very active.”
Among those GOP members with high visibility, Priebus pointed to three Florida legislators — Sen. Marco Rubio, former Rep. Allen West, and Gov. Tim Scott — and three governors: Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico.
“He lost his re-election, but we’ve done a real lousy job bragging about it,” Priebus said of Fortuño. “For a party that’s had all this success — in the Hispanic community, especially — with our candidates, we’ve done a bad job bragging about it, getting our folks on television, making a conscious effort to turn over some of these interview spots over to them, getting them around the country, leveraging our success in developing a better grass-roots network in those communities. And that’s something you’re going to see more of in the next couple of years.”
On the issues front, Priebus said the Democrats can best be beat on excessive spending and the spiraling federal debt.
“Some of our folks are frustrated right now, and I get it. But we’re going to have our opportunity to address this debt limit. We’re going to have our opportunity to talk about spending — and they’re winning issues for us.
“People don’t believe that we’re in the right place in this country when it comes to spending and debt, and it’s something that our party should continue to try to champion and continue to try to take that issue and run with it and explain to the American people what it is that we need to do to get our house back in order. We have the ground on that issue to win on.
“We’ve got better candidates moving into 2014 and 2013,” Priebus added, referring to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
“It’s not a done deal yet in Virginia, but it certainly looks good for him. We have opportunities there that look very good for us — and we’re going to be able to test some of our new ideas on the ground in technology and data in Virginia and New Jersey.
“But look at the Senate in 2014. You might have a race, maybe, in Maine but, other than that, we’ve got all kinds of pick-up opportunities all across the country for the U.S. Senate,” Priebus said.
And, Priebus sees himself at the helm of the RNC.
“One-hundred percent. I’ve got about 160 votes right now out of 166 total. So it looks pretty good.”
Editor's Note: Read more of the Newsmax interview with Reince Priebus:
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