Skip to comments.Dukes Up for Priebus
Posted on 04/27/2012 7:47:14 PM PDT by neverdem
It’s a new chapter in the 2012 presidential campaign, and for Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, it means he no longer has to remain neutral watching the GOP contenders slug it out. The party chairman talked to NRO about how the RNC would help the Romney campaign and down-ticket GOP candidates across the country. He also discussed the RNC’s recent complaint to the General Accountability Office about the president’s doing campaign-style events at taxpayers’ expense.
NRO: Your video department has been busy lately.
REINCE PRIEBUS: They’re doing a great job. We’ve actually hired a person in-house whose entire job is making these videos, and they’re doing it very effectively. It’s amazing how much communication now can be accomplished through 30-second and one-minute web videos. Some of these videos have more than 1 million clicks on YouTube. They get a lot of people.
NRO: When you guys go up on the air with television advertising later this year, will you use the same style, or do you change slightly when trying to reach a television audience?
PRIEBUS: It may change a little bit. I don’t think it will be less hard-hitting, but sometimes you have to be shorter. It’s like anything in politics: You always have to remember that you can only communicate a couple of things at a time.
I had a meeting with a gentleman by the name of Lord Timothy Bell. He did a lot of advertising for Margaret Thatcher when she was prime minister. He told me something that I think is very true in politics. He said, “I can throw you seven tennis balls, but the odds are, you’re going to catch only one or two of them.” In politics, the trick is throwing you two tennis balls and letting you catch them, and figuring out what those two issues should be, and what the winning two issues are. In advertising, it’s important to keep it simple.
In this particular case, this president has given us so much material. He’s a person who is absolutely in love with the sound of his own voice. Because of that, we have so much material and so much to remind the American people of, it’s actually a little more difficult because we have to choose from a whole pile of good ideas.
NRO: The RNC’s ads are now featuring Governor Romney. Is it easier when you can say good things about your nominee instead of just bad things about the incumbent?
PRIEBUS: Well, there are two boxes we need to make sure that we check off in voters’ minds. The first box — and I don’t think anyone can get away from this — is a referendum on Barack Obama. Does this president deserve to be reelected? Did he fulfill the promises that he made to the American people? Are you better off today than you were three or four years ago? That’s the first box. It’s about Obama, and we need as many people as possible to check that box.
The next box is, “Has the Republican party provided an intelligent alternative to this president?” And certainly Governor Romney meets that qualification.
But you don’t get to the second box until you first ask the question of whether or not President Obama deserves to be rehired. It’s always a dual issue as far as the president is concerned. They go hand in hand.
NRO: You guys recently filed a complaint with the comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office, accusing President Obama of using government funds to stage campaign events and demanding a formal inquiry into the matter. First, what took you so long? And second, do you think the GAO will do anything about it?
PRIEBUS: Sometimes I think a there’s a special device strapped onto the bottom of Air Force One that allows it to land only in battleground states.
It also seems as if that million-dollar bus the president bought last summer just happened to go down every interstate highway of every battleground state, and never found its way into North Dakota and Tennessee.
What took so long? Like any legal analysis, the issue of what’s reasonable can change depending upon the facts. But the president has reached the point of obnoxiousness with campaigning on the taxpayer’s dime.
It wasn’t even credible to try to compare what Obama was doing in three and a half years with what George W. Bush did in eight years. He dwarfed anything Bush did. It reached a point where we said, “Listen, this is so out of line and obnoxious, we have to send this letter.”
On the question of whether Obama’s people will blow it off or not, it was pretty interesting that we sent the letter at 4:30 and an hour later their campaign sent an e-mail for a 6:30 conference call, and then they released a statement that their official campaigning was about to begin. Is it a coincidence? I’m not sure, but it certainly looks as if it woke them up.
NRO: What’s the outlook in your home state of Wisconsin regarding the recall?
PRIEBUS: I think the Democrats in Wisconsin have been unbelievably foolish, and I can’t imagine that the Obama administration is too thrilled with what they’re doing up there. What they’re doing is gambling with the presidency in a major way, and here’s why.
First, Democrats didn’t get their [preferred] candidate to run. They’re stuck with two people who have perfected the art of losing statewide elections. Between Tom Barrett and Kathy Falk, they may have lost more statewide elections than any pair in the entire country.
(Barrett was defeated in his bids for governor in 2002 and 2010; Falk was defeated in her bids for governor in 2002 and for state attorney general in 2006.)
The Democrats have set up this World Series event in Wisconsin, this big recall event, and who do they put on the ballot? Kathy Falk and Tom Barrett.
Kathy Falk is the one whom all the unions are supporting, which is really curious. Go back to 2006, obviously a terrible year for Republicans. That year, a Republican named J. B. Van Hollen won election as state attorney general. J. B. was the only Republican in America to win a statewide election in a race for a seat previously held by a Democrat. Who did he beat? Kathy Falk. He beat the person who they think is going to be the one to carry them to victory against Scott Walker.
So they’re going to flush $30 million down the drain, and then they’re going to come back four months later and try to win the state for Barack Obama.
Wisconsin’s a must-win for Obama; it isn’t for us. We’re going to play there, of course — it’s a battleground state. I can’t imagine that they’re going to advance the ball too far for anybody in that state.
My guess is that they’re going to lose badly in June. They’ll likely have a shake-up there among the Democrats, and I think they’re going to lose Wisconsin in November, largely because of this silly miscalculation.
NRO: Do you worry about politics fatigue among the Wisconsin Republican grassroots or the public at large?
PRIEBUS: What we’re finding is that the fatigue is on the Democratic side of the aisle. In polling, people are saying that although they might be Democrats, they don’t believe that using a recall effort is a proper thing to do to get Scott Walker out of office. Even Democrats are saying that using a recall just because you don’t agree with someone’s legislative agenda is not proper. There’s nothing illegal here; it’s just a matter of having a disagreement. That’s what elections are for.
I think Democrats are having a hard time trying to motivate people to go and vote for two people who have done nothing but lose elections. The excitement is on our side. We’re charging up the hill to fight for a cause. If your base is motivated on offense to charge up a hill and win, that’s the better place to be.
They’re going to have to motivate their base to charge up a hill about collective bargaining. That’s ridiculous. After the primary, you’re not going to hear the Democrats mention collective bargaining again, because it doesn’t motivate people. It puts them to sleep.
NRO: Head-to-head, Romney’s looking quite competitive with President Obama, but his favorable/unfavorable numbers are pretty rough for a major-party nominee. Why do you think that is, and how can Romney move those numbers?
PRIEBUS: Let’s not overlook that he’s winning or tied head-to-head against Barack Obama. On his favorable/unfavorable numbers, those numbers are going to move as we get ourselves unified coming out of this primary. If we’re tied or ahead just coming out of a primary, I think there’s no way to go but up. Governor Romney should feel really good about where he sits today.
NRO: Now that the primaries are effectively over, how do you feel the process worked? Any reforms to pursue between now and 2016? A different order, resolving some of the snafus in caucus states, more closed primaries, etc.?
PRIEBUS: I think that’s something that we’ll look at after November. I think any actual introspection or work [on that] now is work that we’re not doing to elect Mitt Romney president.
It’s important, I agree with you, but I think the process worked pretty well. We’ve got a nominee in mid-April who’s ahead of an incumbent president. We have a national committee that has more money in the bank than the Democratic National Committee. We’re on our way to raising record amounts of money, and we’re on our way to deploying more people on the ground than we ever have before in our history. I think we’re looking pretty good. There will be time to make improvements, but I don’t think now is the time to get into that.
NRO: What keeps you up at night? Any areas of concern?
PRIEBUS: Everything keeps me up at night! [Laughter] Everything from money to making intelligent decisions as far as where we’re putting our money and our people, what areas of what states we need to be in and when. I would just say that any good chairman of a party needs to be focused on being functional, operational, staying on message, and raising money.
If you’re not worried about the details, I don’t think you can be a good chairman of a party. Metrics matter. They demonstrate whether or not you’re doing a good job as chairman. You can talk about how you’re raising money, but at some point you need to file a report with the Federal Election Commission, and the whole world will know whether you’re raising money or not.
You can talk about winning elections, but the purpose of the national party is to run a ground operation, to put ballots and absentee ballots in municipal clerks’ offices around America, to open offices, and to communicate with people. All of those things can be counted and measured. I think all of those things are really the crux of what running a good party is all about. The details matter, and a good chairman is worried about the details all the time.
NRO: What is the easily overlooked bit of good news for Republicans that pundits are overlooking this cycle?
PRIEBUS: Two things. First, who would have thought a year ago that the RNC would be in a position to be financially on even ground with the DNC with an incumbent president [on their side]?
This election is likely to be very close. And there can be no overemphasis on how important it will be to have an effective turnout operation on the ground, both for absentee ballots and on Election Day. To have a Republican National Committee as healthy as we are now right now is something people shouldn’t overlook. Most people a year ago wouldn’t have imagined this would be the case.
Secondly, what might be overlooked currently is the fact that we’re either ahead or tied. We’ve got a presumptive nominee who’s doing really well, and we’ve got a party that’s healthy. We’ve got a case to be made that’s very clear on the economy. If we’re judging Barack Obama on words and standards that he set for himself, he hasn’t measured up. It doesn’t take a Republican or a Democratic message to beat this president. It’s just an American message based on facts. That is why this president is going to lose.
— Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot on NRO.
I was hoping to read something more about F & F.
As an aside, the law gives you an option to change your name if you feel it necessary. Most people change normal names to something stupid. This chairman needs to buck the trend and change his ridiculous, unpronounceable name to something usable. I have heard this name spoken numerous times, Reince Priebus, and I still can’t say it. Wrench Prius? Whence Prybus? Just ridiculous.
You sound like a lib, nothing better than ripping on something superficial. What did he do to piss you off?
He was the guy in charge of the WI RNC in 2010 where we took back everything from the democrats more than any other state in America.
“Reince” is R-”eye”-nce, if it really bothered you that much to post about it.
Call him the mastermind of the Wisconsin republican take over of 2010.
Wisconsin: Priebus discusses Walker recall and Union role ping
FReep Mail me if you want on, or off, this Wisconsin interest ping list.
Swell. Personally, I hope the RNC drys up and blows away and so far under this “Masterminds” leadership, I haven’t seen anything to change my mind on that. I see that he was ineffectual in corralling the early Primary states from going rogue and creating the mess we had this election cycle or even trying to close these open primary states which are polluting our nominating process. Top Notch leadership there.
I’m not happy how the primaries turned out either but I wouldn’t peg it on just one person.
I’d like to see all the primaries all be done the same week, if not the same day. The trickling process bopped out better candidates early on.
Nothing more than rearranging the deck shairs on a certain steam ship a 100 years ago.
Preibus won’t be RNC chair for too much longer. Saul Ansus will become chair during the convention, and they will adopt a VERY RINO platform, such that they will leave tea party congressmen stranded in 2012.
Of all the Freakin Issues and the Best they can come up with is one the Democrtas will shoot down in 5 seconds by saying every President uses the Office to Campaign,its one of the advantages of being the Incumbent,what a bunch of incompetent cowards
He’s in it to win it. Who cares what his name is. What if he had a really tough sounding name like, uh, Michael Steele, would you like that better?
He’s in it to win it. Who cares what his name is. What if he had a really tough sounding name like, uh, Michael Steele, would you like that better?
Last name is like preebus. Love those "i's" and "e's"....is that a Wisconsin thingy? Eh ?
I think Haley is an odd name too, but I sure miss seeing him on TV constantly making mince meat out of his Dem witted opponents.
That is true to some extent, but what is the RNC to do? This is their purview- campaigns. They aren’t the Congress. The other thing, is Obama is so far out their in terms of campaigning on the public dime, it is insane.
In this case, I think it resonates with the public, because if he ain't campaigning, he's vacationing. Even blue-collar Dems are starting to realize how much of the tax money that is being wrenched from their grips is getting carelessly thrown out the window.
Really? This primary was a mess. How is that "winning" it?
Also, since when did Reince become so kind towards “RINO Republicanism”? Mitt Romney is another RINO POTUS, and “RINO Republicanism” has been tried and failed three times, already, with Ford, Dole, and McCain!
It all depends on the voter ID law being implemented. If WI voters are able to vote without an ID then anything can happen.