Reince Priebus On Republicans' "New" Approach
Sunday morning, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus joined Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” to discuss the future of the Republican Party and the steps the Republican National Committee will be taking following the recommendations of the Growth and Opportunity Project. Highlights below:
BOB SCHIEFFER: We're joined by the Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus. You have initiated most public, comprehensive post election review in your party's history. And my source for that is you. I understand that's how you characterize it. So tell us. What's the headline here?RNC CHAIRMAN REINCE PRIEBUS: I mean, it is true. You don't see too many political parties or organizations around Washington that put all their cards face up on the table, and that's what we did. This is unprecedented, and it's something we had to do and it's something we worked really hard on. Let me just tell you real quickly, generally what we found out. Number one, I believe our parties had a real quality of contacts problem and what I mean is we have become a party that parachutes into communities four months before an election and while that's how we operated for years and years, and we've done well compared to ourselves, in comparison to the other side.
The Obama campaign lived in these communities for years. The relationships were deep, they were authentic. So, first of all, one of the major things you're going to see tomorrow come out is that for the first time in our party's history, we're not talking about having a few people down the hallway working on outreach and inclusion.
We're going to be announcing a $10 million initiative just this year which will include hundreds of people, paid, across the country, from coast to coast, in Hispanic, African American, Asian communities, talking about our party, talking about our brand, talking about what we believe in, going to community events, going to swearing-in ceremonies being a part of the community on an ongoing basis paid for by the Republican National Committee, to make the case for our party and our candidates.
SCHIEFFER: So, what does that mean, same message but just more people out there to talk about it?
CHAIRMAN PRIEBUS: For one thing, Bob, if you're not in the community, if you're not talking to people and the level of familiarity isn't there, then things-- silly things like Todd Akin and some of the goofy things that are said. When there is a vacuum the caricature becomes true if you're not there. So, if have unscripted moments and you’ve got no relationship to explain anything, obviously, I believe you're a sitting duck. That's just one thing. Obviously, we've got technology issues --
SCHIEFFER: What about the overall message? Do you feel that your message was not as strong as it could have been last time?
CHAIRMAN PRIEBUS: Listen, I think we have to do a better job relating issuing to people's lives. When you're talking about-- let's just say the debt. It's not just a matter of mathematics. It's a matter of what happens in your life. Are you going to have the money to send your kids to school? Is our government spending too much money servicing the credit card payment on the debt? Are you going to be able to live the American Dream? Is your employer going to be able to give you a raise because the government needs more money to run their company. We have to relate things to people's lives. We have to win the math war, which we do a good job of. But we're going to have to learn how to learn the heart war and that's what in presidential elections what is plaguing our party.
SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this. I understand you're also planning some very significant schedule changes for example, the scheduling of your convention. You want it earlier now, as I understand?
CHAIRMAN PRIEBUS: Absolutely. These candidates are not taking public financing anymore, and I don't want to bore our listeners on campaign finance but I’ll tell you. One of the reasons Mitt Romney was a sitting duck for two months over the summer is, under the campaign finance law he couldn't use money that he had already raised until after he received nomination for president in August. I believe that our primary process is way too long. I think our calendar needs to be looked at. I think our debate calendar needs to be shrunk. I think we had way too many debates with our candidates slicing and dicing each other and I think they had to wait too long to get to the convention. I'm calling for a convention in June or July. We're going to set up a commission that's going to make that decision. I'm going to be a part of that. I'm going to chair that commission, but no more August conventions.
SCHIEFFER: And as I understand it, then, fewer debates the year before the presidential year. You'll start them -- when would you like to start them? They started what, in February?
CHAIRMAN PRIEBUS: If it was up to me I wouldn’t start a debate until September if it was up to me. And I would do one a month-- this is me talking now. I would do one a month. I would have more say over the debate partners, moderators, more say over them. I would limit the debates to a reasonable amount. I don't know, maybe seven or eight, but not twenty-three, Bob. That's ridiculous…
BOB SCHIEFFER: And welcome back to "Face the Nation". We're back with the Chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus. Mr. Priebus, I'm fascinated by this study. I mean you want to move up the conventions now. You're talking about a huge outreach program to minorities. But the scope of this study that you did, I find interesting as well. You tell me that you talked basically to 50,000 people, either by phone or in polling, in person or in focus groups.
RNC CHAIRMAN REINCE PRIEBUS: That's right.
SCHIEFFER: What did the focus groups-- what did they tell you about what people think about the Republican Party.
CHAIRMAN PRIEBUS: They told us what you would think that they would think. Number one, we're a little bit too math focused and not focused on people's hearts so that we don't relate to, I think, average Americans, more than we should. Stuffy, old guys, too much. And it really is painful to hear because reality is we've got a very young party.
I mean, you just had Paul Ryan on, he's 42. Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, I mean it's a young party but it just kind of shows you we've done a lousy job of branding and marketing who we are. One of the things we brought out of this is not just branding and marketing around election time but year round.
When is the last time-- you used to see this years ago. "I'm a Republican because..." We're talking about a national marketing and branding campaign as well about our party, what we believe in, everything from college campuses to just civic opportunities, to even going to black colleges, historically black colleges and universities, telling a story and history of our party. the history of equality.
The history of liberty and freedom. and doing that through the national party on a consistent basis. This is not a short-term view, Bob. I know that everything isn't going to change in a year. But if we don't start now, we're not going to have any more success in four years, eight years, or twelve years. We have a long-term view, and we're not to stop being a supporting actor and start leading this country.