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RNC Chair Reince Priebus On The GOP’s Effort In Louisiana Senate Run-off, And Next Steps On Immigration

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GOP Chair Reince Priebus, fresh from the deepest and widest Republican triumph in decades as measured by sheer number of GOP office holders across the federal and state governments, joined me to start today’s show.

The audio:


The transcript:

HH: The guy who made all of this big red wave possible, which has come ashore in Kentucky with the new Leader, and in Arizona with the new governor and attorney general, and hopefully Martha McSally is the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. When last I talked with the chairman, it was Election Night, and we had seen a little bit of the tide coming in. Reince Priebus, three days later, it was one heck of a wave.

RP: Yeah, it was, and I don’t know if you remember, but back in March of this year, I said it was going to be a tsunami. And I got kind of some heat for it, and maybe I probably shouldn’t have said that anyway, but it turned out to be true. And what I take away from it is a couple of things. One, of course, is there’s this media narrative that it’s true, it was a total rejection of Barack Obama, his policies and everyone connected to those policies. But the other thing that was, is very true, is that it was also the acceptance of conservative reformers and their presentation, whether it be Scott Walker, Bruce Rauner, you had Rick Snyder, Baker in Massachusetts, Hogan in Maryland. So on one hand, they rejected the Obama agenda, and they accepted the conservative reformer agenda. And one last thing, because I think it’s important for people to remember and push back on this narrative. There’s another narrative out there that says that really what this is about is that people are sick of everybody. They’re sick of all, every person there is involved in Washington. Well, if that were the case, how come it only affected Democrats? You didn’t hear about big Republican incumbents going down on Tuesday night.

HH: This is, what you’ve just articulated is the blanket that they’re holding up against their cheek to make it feel better, because it stings. But Reince Priebus, there’s another bit out there. Sam Stein, for example, pretty good reporter over at the Huffington Post, they’re trying to over-interpret everything that is said right now when the Leader, the Speaker and you have all said we will work constructively to pass the reforms that are necessary. And Sam’s piece at Huffington Post says you want, you’re backpedaling on comprehensive immigration reform. I don’t read your remarks that way. I think what you’re saying is that the Republican majority is going to be presenting the President with a lot of necessary things beginning with border security, then to comprehensive immigration reform.

RP: Well, that’s it. You know, here’s the point that I was making this morning at the breakfast, and Sam was there, which is the dynamics have changed. And the dynamics changed, because the President has unified the entire country against, well, he’s unified a sizeable portion of the country, the majority of the country, against his immigration policies because he so overplayed his cards on this executive amnesty issue that he has galvanized the country against his plan to grant blanket amnesty without regard to the separation of powers doctrine, that the only thing right now that people are agreeing to is the fact that we have to secure the border. So it’s the President’s fumbling and bumbling that has created a scenario where we can’t get to step two and three until you get the border secured, and I think that’s a reasonable place. I mean, and so…

HH: Absolutely. And it’s not radical. It’s just common sense. And today, the United States Supreme Court accepted for review the federal subsidy on the exchange, and so there’s going to be a whole complicated dance of measures that the leadership has to figure out in consultation with the governors and everyone else who makes the weather on the Republican side of the aisle. But nobody has thrown down gauntlets except the President, Reince Priebus. And I understand the Speaker pushed back.

RP: Well, and here’s the other thing. The media’s constantly asking us to comment on the new promise, or the new comments from Barack Obama. Well, after six years of this stuff, my plan is, and on immigration, I don’t believe a thing he says. And the other piece about the idea that he wants to now work with Republicans, that’s great. Let’s see what of the 370 bills, which ones that are on Harry Reid’s desk he’s willing to work on. But this idea that suddenly that we have a mandate, excuse me, that there is a responsibility spoken through the vote on Tuesday that we have to work and compromise with the President, that’s not what the vote said. But my point is that there’s enough that I think we can do to show leadership in the Republican Party, that we can get to a Keystone Pipeline, and we can pass a budget without the President’s signature, and we can start showing the American people that the decision they made on Tuesday was a good one.

HH: Now let me get a couple specifics. Full disclosure, my law firm is representing Carl DeMaio down in San Diego in the recount. That one’s up for grabs. Martha McSally, I’m near Tucson, that’s up for grabs. What’s the minimum, though, scope of the gains, Reince Priebus? There are a few things that are still out there. But what do you think is the minimum scope?

RP: Well, I think you’re going to, I think the minimum, of course, is maybe you know, 246, 247. I think that’s what we’ll, we could get higher. Maybe you push 250. I’m not sure. But you can, that’s obviously a…

HH: Wow.

RP: …modern day record. I think, well, Alaska, there’s no pathway for Mark Begich up in Alaska, so it’s just a matter of waiting for him to concede. There’s just no data model that works for Mark Begich to win in Alaska. So that’s done.

HH: And are the Democrats trying to head fake us in Louisiana by pulling the money out of Mary Landrieu? Or have they really given up? And are you going to take that head fake?

RP: Well, here’s the thing. I just saw that all the ad buys for starting on Monday in Louisiana, every single market in Louisiana, there is not a single ad pro-Landrieu booked in Louisiana – not from her campaign, not from the Dem Senate Committee, no 527.

HH: Wow.

RP: And if you look at the pro-Cassidy ad buys, and you’re in the business, so you know exactly what these sheets look like, I mean, every media market’s full. So I don’t know exactly how she’s going to compete. The RNC is sending 220 fulltime staffers this weekend on planes. We’ve got hotels, meal plans, cars…

HH: Wow.

RP: And so we are descending on Louisiana, and we’re going to put the ground game on steroids and really have some fun.

HH: Now the second thing I want to ask you about is your hometown, because the first Terminator movie, the very first time Arnold played the Terminator, he’d get blown up, and he’d come back and he’d reassemble. He’d keep going. That’s Scott Walker. I mean, they have tried everything with Scott Walker. And like Rasputin getting out of the river after he’d been shot and stabbed and thrown in the river. They can’t put him down. It’s amazing.

RP: Yeah, he won by a bigger margin on Tuesday than in the first time in 2010. And it doesn’t matter, because what’s being rewarded in Wisconsin is number one, success and progress, but number two, the reality is that people like folks that make simple promises and just keep them. And there’s nothing real fancy about it. And that’s what’s going on in Wisconsin. People like Scott Walker. Yeah, it’s difficult, and there’s been a lot of fighting. But in the end, when people are given the choice between a person that couldn’t keep a job at her parents’ own company, or her family’s own company and got fired, and now we want to make her governor? And we’ve got a governor who is actually getting the state out of the ditch, they’re going to go with Scott Walker.

HH: It’s a remarkable story. Also, with a minute and a half left, Reince Priebus, across the country, people like Adam Laxalt in Nevada, Mark Brnovich here in Arizona, Cynthia Carruthers, down ticket statewide races, our bench is deeper than ever. And the Politico piece, A Lost Generation Of Democrats, you must be just impossible to sort of figure out who our superstars are. It’s like being the head coach of the Browns.

RP: (laughing) Yeah, congratulations on that, by the way.

HH: I know, good game. Portman owes me $5 bucks.

RP: (laughing) Well, I would just say that’s a big piece of this, that when you have over 4,000 of the, I think it’s of the 4,500 of the 6,500 total state legislators in the entire country are Republican, you’re controlling 25 state houses and governors, the trifecta in a particular state to the Democrats’ six? This is the biggest majority of state house and state senate races that we’ve ever held in the history of our nation. This was a huge victory. This was not just some sort of subtle hey, they blew it in the Senate because the President was unpopular thing. I mean, the Republicans won everywhere, and the Democrats lost everywhere.

HH: Deep and wide, and Mr. Chairman, congratulations to you. I hope you take the weekend off. Are you going to get the weekend off?

RP: I have one meeting tomorrow at Noon, and I’ve got the Packers playing the Bears on Sunday night, so it’s going to be good.

HH: That’s perfect. That’s like the Browns playing the Bengals last night. I hope it turns out well for you. I don’t really care about Chicago, even though we got a Republican governor there now. I guess we have to be nice to Chicago again.

RP: Yeah, we have to start thinking about Bruce Rauner and start being nice again to Illinois.

HH: Well, not to the Bears, not yet. Reince Priebus, congratulations, Mr. Chairman. Follow him on Twitter @Reince.

End of interview.


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