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RNC Chairman Reince Priebus Explains The Republican Ground Game

Saturday, February 4, 2012

HH: As promised, time to talk with chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. Mr. Chairman, I’m frankly surprised you’re up and around again after the Green Bay Packers’ shellacking.

RP: (laughing) Well, that’s an awful way to start the program.

HH: (laughing)

RP: Listen, it was about the worst game I’ve ever seen, and the reason is they looked like the worst team in the entire NFL. I mean, it was just unbelievable.

HH: Well, are you rooting for the Giants tomorrow, or for the Patriots?

RP: Yeah, I’m going with the Giants.

HH: Wow.

RP: And I’m going with the Giants, and you know, it may be old blood between the Patriots, but you know, the NFC, I’m going to stick with them.

HH: Oh, you see, I’m an AFC guy. I’m a Browns fan. But I loathe Belichick, not as a person, but as an institution, and for what he did. So I am with the Giants, too. All right, Mr. Chairman, I’ve got a lot to cover. We’ve got a lot to cover.

RP: Okay, no problem.

HH: But I want to start with the very most important thing, which is hotel and all access pass accommodations for the radio talk show row in Tampa Bay.

RP: (laughing) Hey, listen, you and Bill and Medved and the gang, Prager, they’re all going to be taken care of. You know that.

HH: Not Prager. Just put Prager in Georgia, all right? Just remember that. Gallagher goes to Georgia. Bennett and I get…

RP: Right, I was, isn’t Medved with you all, too?

HH: You betcha. You betcha.

RP: Well, I was talking to him the other day, and I was afraid he was going to ask me about my last movie, because you know, he’s a big movie buff as everybody knows.

HH: Right.

RP: And the truth of it was when we were talking about it, the last movie I saw was the Smurfs in 3D with my 11 year old.

HH: Oh dear.

RP: So that was an embarrassing moment.

HH: That is. That’s very bad. All right, Mr. Chairman, I just want to play the tape back to your staff when we’re staying in Orlando instead of Tampa Bay, and I can’t get four all access passes.

RP: Oh, no, you’ll be in good shape.

HH: Let’s get to the serious stuff.

RP: Yes.

HH: Yesterday, Bill McCollum, attorney general formerly of Florida, former Congressman, said hey, he’s going to help Newt bring a challenge to the award of all the delegates in Florida to Mitt Romney. And I said you know, I’m unaware of any nominees ever having a floor challenge go against him, but who knows? So if Romney’s the nominee, do you expect that a floor challenge will end up happening, Reince Priebus?

RP: I…no, I don’t. You know, listen, if this thing comes down to an argument over 15 to 17 delegates in Florida in August, boy, we’re going to have a lot more rules rights than just that. I mean, there’ll be hundreds of…you know how rules rights are in political parties, right?

HH: Yes.

RP: I mean, they can be, you know, they can last for days. It’s…so the reality is that most of this is all going to get resolved pretty quickly. And I don’t want to bore your listeners with rules procedures, but I’ll just tell you that in this issue with Florida, you know, a proper, what happens is you would have a contest take place, and a contest committee procedure where someone would challenge the seating of some of the delegates saying hey, we think these delegates should have been awarded on a proportional basis, therefore we’re challenging these delegates according to this rule. Well, that challenge can’t even come until the delegates are chosen in Florida, which isn’t going to happen for a couple months. So even if someone had a good challenge, which I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but even if it was a good challenge, you couldn’t bring it for another two months. Well, you know, who knows what’s going to happen by then?

HH: That is what I thought, and that is what I wanted the audience…there’s a lot of stuff on the web about this, and I just think it’s not germane, and it’s not timely. But it was raised on this program yesterday. Second question…

RP: Yeah, yeah, and then the next thing is if people don’t, and the contest committee makes the recommendation to the RNC, the RNC makes a recommendation, and that can be appealed by the credentials committee. I’m telling you, this can, there are a number of checks and balances, but on the other hand, it’s a huge procedural issue.

HH: All right, now in terms of fundraising, and we’ve got a minute to our break, and then we’ll come back and talk about substantive stuff.

RP: Yes.

HH: What do you look at the numbers overall for the Republican effort, up and down the various committees? What do you see when you stack them up against the Democrat numbers?

RP: Oh, we’re outpacing the Democrats. I mean, if you put our presidential candidates and the RNC together, and Obama and the DNC, we’ve raised more money than them. In fact, right now, the RNC has more cash in the bank than the DNC, which I know is a shock because Obama’s raising money every night with the DNC.

HH: That is.

RP: Now I can tell you we’re working really hard here. I spent, you know, I spent all afternoon today on the phone raising money, and it’s just something that we constantly have to do to keep up, because we don’t have a nominee right now. But I think your listeners will like the fact that we do have more in the bank. Our net is higher by $15 million. And our revenue is better than the DNC. So we’re doing really well on the money, which is important, because that’s how we’re going to fund all our programs – the absentee ballots, the Hispanic coalition, the youth program, the college program. So all the groundwork, the army on the ground has to be funded, and that’s what we do.

HH: I’ll be right back with Reince Priebus. You can go to or to learn more.

– – – – –

HH: Mr. Chairman, when I went to break, I said, Did I get that right?

RP: Yeah, is the right website address.

HH: All right,

RP: Yeah.

HH: And you need small donors, and you need a network. But if someone wants to write you a bigger check, wants to help you keep where you’re going, how do they get in touch with you? Through

RP: They can go to, you can do that. The next thing you can do is just call the Chairman’s office directly, and I’ll tell you that number is 202-863-8700. And that’s not the general number. That’s the Chairman’s office. It’s 202-863-8700. And then for people who want to, we’ve talked about the new things that we’re doing tech-wise and through social media, but the best way to start getting in tune with what we’re doing both through the digital reach and our web ads is by texting the word GOP to 91919. Just text GOP to 91919, and you can get hooked into everything we’re doing.

HH: I get those email alerts every single day via my text messages, and they are very, very useful. They don’t send out too many, they don’t abuse it. It’s perfect. All right, Mr. Chairman, to substance.

RP: You bet.

HH: I’m sure you dream of a map that shows between 10 and 15 states all in red, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, and of course, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

RP: Yeah.

HH: It’s a 15 state election, sort of, and I’m curious, have you begun to build the infrastructure? You mentioned a little bit in the last segment about infrastructure in those 15 states that more or less, give or take one or more, are going to decide this thing.

RP: Well, that’s right, and we have. And we’re meeting, we’ve met with all of those state parties, of course, but also the infrastructure through what we call our victory program. The victory program, some of you have heard of. It’s a program, it’s a funding mechanism that we use at the RNC to fund the entire ground game in those targeted states. What we do typically, if you were take a state like Wisconsin, we would be meeting with the state of Wisconsin. It’s a little different there, because we’re starting early because of the Walker recall. So it’s a good example. But we would get into Wisconsin, we would make sure that we had all of the victory directors and regional directions on the ground who’d have headquarters all over the state of Wisconsin. So you get into those leases, get the T-1 lines in, get the voice over internet phones in, get your personnel in place, and then you start building off from there with a regional Hispanic coalition team, say, in South Milwaukee as an example, where you would target Hispanic voters with absentee ballots, a door to door campaign. You would then bring in regional campus coordinators in Milwaukee and Madison, and you know, up north around the Eau Claire, Wisconsin, area. And so then you’d have an entire program with just those college students and young professionals. And so we’ve started that process all right now. And we’ve been rolling out a lot of these programs in the different states as we speak. But part of the funding that we’re doing in what we call the presidential trust campaign that Paul Ryan is heading up with us, is that we’re socking away millions and millions of dollars every month so that when we get to June and later, that we have a massive war chest that we can unleash across America to make sure that those states come in for us.

HH: That is terrific. Quesiton on the technology. Obviously, tomorrow, Nevada is holding caucuses, and Florida had their big vote last Tuesday, and we’ve got lots of other states. People are getting recorded phone calls all over the country. And I get emails that they really don’t like this. On the other hand, they must be effective. What’s your view as a tactician superb of the utility of recorded phone calls when they come in waves?

RP: You know, it’s surprisingly, what studies show, is that when you get six calls, the seventh call, you’re more likely to vote. I know it sounds like people just want to drive right off the highway when they hear that. The reality is that recorded messages from the right people really help drive out the vote. And you know, I think in some ways, you’re right. I think it does get to be a little bit of overkill, especially when you’re getting so many from many different sources. But surprisingly, as hated as some of that stuff is, people are moved in many ways, depending on who is doing the messaging. And that’s the one thing on these recorded messages. I want to tell you, that’s why I and others at the RNC, we think that volunteer calls are the way to go. And that’s why I emphasize so much our voice over internet program. We have a phone from home program that we’ve developed here where any person, no matter where you are. You could be in Alaska. And if you want to call into Missouri or Pennsylvania for the presidential election, we can hook you up with a phone from home program on the internet where you have the phone numbers, you have the voters, and you can call. Okay, this is Hugh Hewitt, and we’re going to give him a call, and we’re going to find out whether he voted, and who he voted for, or what he needs to vote, or whether he turned in his absentee ballot. I think volunteer calls are the way to go. If you’re getting a call from, you know, hi, I’m George Bush, and I want you to vote for this person, you know, you’re not going to be moved as much as if someone says hi, I’m Phil Johnson, and I’m calling as a volunteer from the local GOP here, and I’m just really working hard for X candidate. I just really hope you consider him, and help us get our country back on track. That’s a much better phone call, in my opinion.

HH: Now Chairman Priebus, if any indication comes from Florida, the unions threw $2 million dollars against Romney. They didn’t want to run against him. They threw all this hardware at him. It didn’t work for him. But I’m curious, that’s a dirty trick. Do you expect that that, for example, they’ll call you up and say hi, it’s Joe Bag O’Donuts, and I’m with the Republican Party, and did you know this about your nominee? Are they going to use technology in dirty trick ways, do you think?

RP: Oh, I fully expect everything and the kitchen sink. And so there’s no doubt about it. The money involved, the contracts, the power that these unions expect to hold onto is something that they’re not going to let go of. So no, they’ll do anything and everything imaginable. I mean, I come from a state where the unions, you know, nothing gives with them. And they spent $30 million dollars on state senate recalls up in Wisconsin. And they’ll do whatever they have to do. I mean, they’ll ship people in from all over the country and just walk the streets and bring in buses. And you know, part of the reason why we had to have so much election reform in Wisconsin, because there was just a massive influx of out of state union money, organized, and really just pathetic. And so we’ve got problems as far as unions that don’t like to play fair at election time. And you know, we’re fair people.

HH: We’re fair people. One more segment, a short three minutes with Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

– – – –

HH: I want to say A) First, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think the RNC is doing really well, and they’ve stayed out of the primary. They’ve tipped neither way. And number two, you are not like Debbie Wasserman Schultz. You are not a walking gift to the other side. I’m curious if you’re rather amazed at the car crash in slow motion that she is.

RP: Well, I mean, I think that she, and I’m not trying to be, you know, avoid the question. I think she’s got a really tough situation.

HH: Oh, you bet.

RP: She’s trying to defend something that’s not defendable. And when you have your lines ready to go, and the lines aren’t working, you know, you tend to say some things that get you into trouble. And you know, when you claim that our candidates are putting more negative ads then the entire 2008 election combined, and that’s wrong, and you talk about us going back to Jim Crow laws because we think you ought to show an ID when you vote, I mean, these are all ridiculous statements. But I kind of enjoy our debates when we have them, because you know, in my case, we’ve got the facts on our side. It’s a great thing to be able to win a debate by just citing facts. I mean, it’s not…and that’s what I always say. You know, if we hold Barack Obama according to the standards and the promises that he made, not the standards that I’m creating, or the RNC is creating, but the standards and words used by Barack Obama, we will defeat Barack Obama. The difference between, I think, where we’re at today and where we were in ’08, although there’s not a whole lot of difference, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a right attitude back then, but I’ll tell you right now our people believe, rightfully so, that we need to defeat Barack Obama to save America. And to some people, that seems like, well, that’s a wild thing. It’s not wild at all. We are involved right now, economically, with one of the most predictable collapses, economically, that we’ve ever had. And here we are, and all we need to do is something about it. So whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, and I’m sure there’s Democrats listening, too, that I think there’s some common ground here. And I think that we all can agree that the government’s making promises that it just can’t keep in regard to entitlement reform and all these other programs. So if we know that, what are we going to do about it? And we’ve got a president right now who sure promised us the world on deficits and spending and taxes, and he hasn’t delivered on anything. So I just happen to believe that we need to get together, and we need to save America. We need to defeat Barack Obama.

HH: Reince Priebus of the Republican National Committee, thank you., or call him at 202-863-8700.

End of interview.

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