HH: I begin this hour, I’m very pleased to welcome back the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus of the great state of Wisconsin. Chairman Priebus, welcome back, always a pleasure.
RP: Hey, the pleasure is mine, Hugh. How are you, buddy?
HH: I’m great, and I hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend lined up, and you’re back in Wisconsin. But let me give you some hard ones to take with you back there. What in the world is going on in Wisconsin? Are you holding the ground that Scott Walker won?
RP: Absolutely, and the listeners can take some refuge in the fact that look what happened in this Supreme Court race. And I know we just last week, David Prosser, who was declared the official winner of that race after his opponent, this liberal judge, requested a recount after losing by 7,000 votes. Now remember, the Democrats and the unions from around the country poured every last dollar into these races, and you know, Prosser was outspent 4-1 in this race. The Democrats had all the momentum, they have, you remember, all the rallies, all the protests. And they came up short. In a special election, with all the momentum and all the money, they came up short. So what does this tell you? What it tells you is that people in Wisconsin, like people around this country, are not interested in a country or a state of takers, that we recognize that we need a country of makers, and that this debate is really about what type of country we all want to have. And if we want to have a country, if we want to have a state like Wisconsin that’s upside down economically, and if you want to have a country that has to surrender itself to its bond holders, well then you don’t have a state, and you don’t have a country that can guarantee prosperity or freedom for anybody. And people in Wisconsin understand that.
HH: Well, having won that debate, and I’m so encouraged by the Prosser result, what happened in New York 26? How did the momentum get away from us?
RP: Well, I think, you know, I do think the New York race was very bizarre. And you know what? And maybe, if we could undo time, or go back in a time machine, who knows. Maybe you could do things differently. But I will tell you that the Jack Davis candidacy had the effect of not just, I think, splitting up our base on the Republican side, but I think there’s more to it than just talking about the fact that he ran as a Tea Party candidate, and took votes away from our candidate, Jane Corwin. The reality is, and what people aren’t talking about on television, is that Jack Davis spent $3 million dollars early in that race. And this is a special election, so it’s a sprint. So here’s a guy who runs under the Tea Party ticket, spends $3 million dollars early, and our candidate is sitting around for the next four weeks trying to recapture her base, and we’re spending, and she’s spending all sorts of money trying to educate the base as to who Jack Davis is, and that in fact he’s not a Tea Party candidate, he ran as a Democrat three times. And when you spend all your time in a campaign, or a lot of your time in a campaign talking about a third party candidate instead of what you’d like to do for the country, I think it’s obviously a bad start out of the blocks. The other piece is, Hugh, you know, the Democrats are good at scaring seniors. That’s what they did in this race. We can’t let that happen. We have to educate people in this country as far as where we’re at. This President, his plan for Medicare is for Medicare to go broke. And what we need to talk about is not just the fact that Medicare is going to bankrupt, but Republicans have to start talking about what the effect is on people’s lives under the plan that this President and these Democrats in the Senate want to put forward.
HH: So let me ask you, Mr. Chairman, then, given…I agree with that. Do you think that the freshmen Congressmen and other Republicans are going to get round-heeled and weak-kneed, and retreat from the need for serious talk, blunt talk, straightforward talk on Medicare and the other entitlement four as a result of what I’ll call a false positive for the Democrats up in NY-26?
RP: Yeah, I do. I don’t see any, I mean, the freshmen are tough, and I think that they are on board with the idea that this debate we’re having is not about Republicans and Democrats anymore. This debate we’re having is about the future of America. This is a battle of freedom, this is a battle for the very idea of America. They’re on board. And the things we need to start talking about is, you know, my parents are around 65 years old. And under the President’s plan, my parents aren’t going to have Medicare. My parents aren’t going to have Social Security, because that is the President’s plan. We need to start talking about what the effect is of what the Democrats have done, which is nothing. And I think that is the message that we need to bring to the American people.
HH: Now I want to make sure I got it right, because I think I phrased the question is a roundabout way. You’re confident that the Republicans on the Hill are going to stand with Ryan and continue to make these arguments?
RP: I’m…absolutely, I’m confident that that’s what they’re going to do. And my point is that I think what we have to do is two things. One, we have to make it very clear that the economic case against this President, in regards to the budget and Medicare, is that that case is the reason that this President needs to be defeated. Number two, we need to show and illustrate to the American people, in real life terms, what the effects are on real people by the President’s inaction and his love affair with whistling past the graveyard on these most important issues facing our country.
HH: All right, now let’s switch, Chairman Priebus, over very quickly to GOP politics, and then to foreign affairs. Have you made progress on setting up a debate schedule to which the major candidates, and I don’t think it’s a thin field, I think it’s a great field, but has that field agreed to the debate outlines that you and the Committee are working on?
RP: Yeah, we’ve made great progress, Hugh. And we are about to make some announcements on our sanctioning of debates starting in August. So we’ve got one debate that we have agreed to sanction in August, and we’re working on September and October and November. We’re going to announce all of it in one bloc. But as you know, our plan is to try to put together a diverse field of debates that include not just mainstream media, but also personalities like, perhaps, like for example, even, maybe, people like yourself.
HH: Hey, my phone hasn’t rung yet. I’d be happy to do that. By all means.
RP: We want to put together a series of debates that we sanction that allow our grassroots voters, our primary voters, the opportunity to examine these candidates, and not just so much surrender the entire primary process to people who are in the business of making news, pitting our candidates against each other, only to use all of that footage, and all of these debates in order to defeat our candidate. You know, my objective every single day is to make sure that Barack Obama is a one-term president. And so every decision we make has to be okay, so we’re going to do this debate, this debate, this debate, and this debate, so how does doing all of this actually help us get to a place of defeating this president? And that’s the lens that we have to have.
HH: If you pull that off, Chairman Priebus, whether or not you do it with me, and of course, it would be better if you did it with me…
HH: And you get someone to actually pose a question, if we don’t do anything, Candidate X, Medicare will be broken in 11 years, just that will be one of the most significant contributions ever made by a party to clarity and redefining this debate. So good luck, and I look forward to that announcement. I want to give you a couple of minutes to comment on Benjamin Netanyahu. I mean, this is extraordinary. I think you’ve got a lot of Jewish Americans who may have voted for President Obama now saying to themselves, this is the most hostile to Israel president we’ve had in modern times.
RP: Well, and he’s illustrated this. I mean, when it comes with his positioning against the prime minister during that election, when it comes to the debates over the settlements in Israel, and then, and you know, here’s the thing. And I don’t know if maybe there are folks on television talking about this particular angle, but honestly, the idea that the President is now trying to peddle out there that he misspoke on this 1967 border issue, when every one of us know that every word that comes out of the President’s mouth is put on a teleprompter. He is the teleprompter president. He’s the campaigner-in-chief. And you don’t think that he himself, along with everyone around him, went over this speech over and over and over again? And we’re sitting here being fed this baloney that somehow he just misspoke? He knew exactly what he was saying in the speech, and he said what he believed. And what he believed was that the border should go back to pre-1967, which is preposterous. And it is a, I think, it damages obviously our national security interests, as well as Israel’s. And you know, Israel is the beacon of hope in the Middle East. And the fact that we have a president who would, at least partially, if not fully, throw Israel under the bus in a very important speech that was well thought out, I think it’s beyond embarrassing. It’s a tragedy.
HH: And hopefully, people are watching. Chairman Reince Priebus of the Republican National Committee, www.gop.com, America, go visit, go help.
End of interview.