HH: Joined now by the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, who I will be seeing in Law Vegas, and again in Florida, as these extraordinarily successful, when you judge by the audience, debate series continue. Reince Priebus, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
RP: Hey, thank you, Hugh, happy to be back.
HH: You know, if anyone had bet you, you could get 23 million people to watch a GOP presidential debate, I don’t think you would have taken that bet a year ago.
RP: Well, probably not. I mean, it’s certainly changed the dynamic quite a bit in that it’s obviously given us a little bit more leverage than we ever anticipated in making sure that these debates are a little bit, I think, better run. And I think they have been. Certainly, the Fox Business debate was great. The CNN debate and the Fox News debate, obviously, I had a little problem with CNBC, and I think we’ve addressed it, and I think we’ve shown that we’re willing to go to the mat on protecting our candidates, and making sure that at least we do everything we can to try to prevent that from happening again. And as you know, that when the curtain goes up and the lights go on, I can’t stop people from turning into monsters, but I can try to do the best job we can of making sure that we don’t put ourselves in the position of that happening. And I think we’re doing great.
HH: And I don’t think it’s going to happen in Vegas. Yeah, you know, CNN is very professional, and I’m working with them, and I just think everyone has figured out people tune in to watch the candidates, not the moderators, and that’s the important thing.
RP: Well, that’s right.
HH: Reince, I want to play for you the President today, a couple of cuts.
HH: Cut number 13, this is the President talking in Turkey earlier today.
BO: What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning, or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people and to protect people in the region who are getting killed, and protect our allies and people like France.
HH: Now Reince Priebus, the President’s supporters are saying he’s being taken out of context, but he did say he has no interesting in pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning. And you know, those are his words. What in the world do you make of this?
RP: You know, this is one of these moments where you’re, you don’t quite understand how our own president can be so aloof to the change in global tone in the world today. And it’s slightly, it’s been somewhat unseemly for a party chairman to criticize a president at a time of global crisis, normally not a place I would go. But his leadership in this particular instance is so aloof to reality, and I’m not quite sure what his problem is with America winning, and the idea and the notion of American leadership at a moment like this would be. And I’m not sure why he would say something like that, or if he has a problem with the notion of American leadership in the world. But certainly, he’s opened himself up to that question now. Whether he was off the cuff or not is not the point. I think when someone’s off the cuff, they’re even more honest than when they’re reading off of notes. And I think that’s he essentially was doing.
HH: He also went on to, he went on to blast Republicans for not wanting, you know, earlier in the show, Chris Christie said adamantly no Syrian refuges. I asked him, even three year old orphans? He said not even three year old orphans. We don’t have a vetting process. The President went after Republicans today, Reince, and here’s what he said, cut number 15:
BO: And when I hear folks say that well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person whose fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who’ve benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution? That’s shameful. That’s not American. It’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion. When Pope Francis came to visit the United States and gave a speech before Congress, he didn’t just speak about Christians who were being persecuted. He didn’t call on all Catholic parishes just to admit those who were of the same religious faith. He said protect people who were vulnerable.
HH: So Reince Priebus, he also went on to say Republicans have gone to a dark place, they’ve fallen into a dark place when in fact they’re worried about ISIS.
RP: Well, there’s no question. I mean, we’re talking about the most extreme version of Islam that everyone that is analyzing this is concluding is a problem. This is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. This is a matter of a president that refuses to admit the most basic observation that people can see across the globe. And I mean, he’s the same person, as you know, Hugh, that said ISIS was contained a few days ago. Well, a passenger jet was just bombed out of the sky, and you know, almost 130 people were just murdered in Paris. We have a socialist leader in France that is leading the world right now, which is great. I’m happy that they’re doing that, but we have a president of the United States that is somehow clinging to a failed policy that even people like Dianne Feinstein and now other Democrats as well are saying this is the wrong path. And so this is about our country and about the safety of our people.
HH: And here’s Hillary Clinton talking on the debate Saturday night. This was odd, Reince Priebus, let me play you cut number 12:
JD: Would you suggest that kind of activism take place at other universities across the country?
HRC: Well John, I come from the 60s, a long time ago. There was a lot of activism on campus – civil rights activism, anti-war activism, women’s rights activism. And I do appreciate the way young people are standing up and speaking out.
HH: 30 seconds to the break, Reince, and we’ll come back after this. But are you a little bit surprised to see the Democratic likely nominee referencing that she’s from the 60s?
RP: Yeah, I don’t think it’s exactly a forward-looking commentary for where we’re at. But you know, speaking of her, I know we’re focusing on Obama, and it’s appropriate that we are. He’s our president. But these are Hillary Clinton’s strategies as well. I mean, this is her foreign policy that we’ve found ourselves mired in. And she’s going to have to answer for it. And obviously, she’s going to have a lot to answer for.
HH: I’ll be right back with Reince Priebus, our short segment to wrap up this hour.
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HH: Reince, earlier today, Huma Abedin’s email surfaced from January, 2013, in which she said about then-Secretary of State Clinton, “She is often confused.” Who knows what she’s talking about, but did you think the Secretary of State was, the former Secretary of State, was confused on Saturday night? Some of her answers were just all over the place.
RP: Yeah, I think so. I mean, especially I thought that this quick pivot to her donations from Wall Street being a result of 9/11, and her leadership of 9/11, was just very ill-advised and obviously a totally new low, even for Hillary Clinton. But you know, she’s often confused. I mean, she was confused after Benghazi, apparently. This is what she says. But the truth is that she will do and say anything, and if it means lying about something like a video to justify the attack in Benghazi, she’ll do it. But you know, you see the truth in people and how they act when you can look at their emails when they don’t know somebody’s watching. My mom used to tell me that character is how you act when nobody is watching. And that’s what you see when people like that are exposed, and these open records requests are coming to light. And by the way, this is just the beginning. There’s going to be a lot more records that are going to be seen by the people across the country.
HH: Yeah, it’s amazing. And you know, Reince Priebus, you scheduled, you scheduled these debates and organized them for maximum audience, and it’s worked. The Democrats have organized them for minimum audience.
RP: Yeah (laughing)
HH: What’s that tell you? We’ve got a minute to the end.
RP: Well, that’s a good point.
HH: What’s that tell you?
RP: Well, you know what it is? It tells you exactly what they want. They don’t, first of all, here’s what it tells you, and this is just the fact. Hillary Clinton is the presumptive nominee. So Hillary Clinton is running the DNC. So the DNC is going to take their marching orders from the nominee, and the nominee wants low turnout on viewership. She does not want a lot of debates. And that’s what you’re going to get. Me, on the other hand, I’m sending an email to our chief of staff, and our chief operating officer, and reminding them we do not schedule debates on Saturday night. We schedule debates on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, and we’re not going to do it. So even if there is an entity out there that wants to do a debate on Saturday night, we’re not going to do it. The reason is these people like these big networks, they like Saturday night, because they don’t have a lot of programming on Saturday night. So if they can get 8 million people to watch something that wouldn’t be otherwise watching a network, they don’t schedule it on a Saturday night. But if you say well, I want to have this on Thursday night when I know that we can get 15 or 20 million people watching, oh, no, we can’t do that, because the episode of this is running. We want to do it on a Sunday at 3:00 in the morning. Well, that’s not going to fly.
HH: Well said. Reince Priebus, thanks for joining me. Follow him on Twitter, America, @Reince. He didn’t even bring up the Packers. That was a blessing.
End of interview.