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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus On The Shutdown And 2016

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HH: Joined now by the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. Mr. Chairman, welcome, always a pleasure to speak with you.

RP: Hugh, happy to be on the show. How are you?

HH: I’m good. We’ve got a lot to talk about. Let me get two very quick questions done first. When, not what, but when do we get a new primary schedule? And when do we get a decision on moving the convention to June?

RP: Okay, well two things that you should know already exist, which people haven’t picked up on, yet. The primary calendar has already been seriously compressed, because we’ve done two things in the rules. One, we’ve inserted a death penalty up front for any state that jumps early in the primary calendar. You might remember Florida and other states, there was some states that think that they need to have a say, not just the early states, so they jump ahead, and it creates an avalanche up front. And then you get this six month slicing and dicing festival in our party, because we can’t control the time frame of the primaries. So what we did is we have a death penalty up front, which means state lose almost all of their delegates if they jump the calendar. The second thing that we’ve done is that we have tentatively agreed to move the convention up from the end of August to no later than the first or second week of July. I’d prefer the end of June. That, then, back ends the end date of the primary season. Essentially, what you have right now in almost doing nothing else is about a 60-75 day primary, which is a huge difference in the calendar. The debate calendar is another issue. As you know, I’m not a big fan of 23 debates in front of moderators that are not in our best interest. So we’re looking at about a six, seven, eight debate schedule, we pick the moderators, and then we hold the candidates accountable to that schedule.

HH: So when is the Hewitt debate in there, Mr. Chairman?

RP: Hey, listen, I don’t know if you remember this, or someone’s ever alerted you to this, but I actually did a shout-out to Salem Communications when I was debating one of the hosts from CNN during my whole argument with them. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that, but…

HH: Oh, we did. We played it, but Salem includes, you know, Bennett, and he’s a rogue, and Prager and Medved and Gallagher.

RP: Yeah, but you know you’re my favorite guy, so you know, whenever I say Salem, I’m talking about you.

HH: All right, just checking. Now let’s get to, I’ve got to play for you something Jake Tapper just said on my show minutes ago about the current shutdown.

HH: National contempt for everyone in the Beltway has skyrocketed.

JT: This is going to be great for any governor running for president in 2016.

HH: Yes.

JT: Anyone not associated with the House, with the Senate, with the Obama administration…

HH: What do you think about that, Reince Priebus?

RP: I don’t think Jake Tapper can make a claim that he understands primary voters. You know, I’m not so sure. I actually think a lot of our base are pretty happy with a party that’s willing to fight, and willing to have it out, and actually, you know, people are pretty happy with our Speaker, that he’s been pretty strong, and the House Republican side isn’t willing to capitulate and roll over. So I’m not so sure about that.

HH: Let me play you something that Robert Gibbs, the original mouthpiece for the White House, had to say earlier today on MSNBC, cut number one:

RG: It is excruciatingly embarrassing for the White House and for the Department of Health and Human Services. This was bungled badly. This is not a server problem, right, like just too many people came to the website. This is a website architecture problem. I think it is, again, it’s excruciatingly embarrassing. It’s not fatal, because…

HH: All right, that’s enough. Now Reince Priebus, you called for Kathleen Sebelius to resign. I think that is a minor penalty for the disaster that this has happened. Is there traction on that demand?

RP: Well, listen, and Gibbs came out later and said someone should be fired. And I think a couple of other people came out today and said that she should be fired. Look, I know it’s nothing compared to the massive disaster Obamacare is, but if you think about the Secretary, even though that she serves at the pleasure of the President, the fact is she does have to serve the entire country. And if your signature achievement that you had three years to prepare for collapses in the grand fashion that Obamacare did, you would think that she would be held accountable. And I think that what you saw Gibbs talk about, and especially since he’s in the bubble of Obama’s team, he may have been floating that out there to see what kind of reaction he’s going to get. I do not believe for a second that Robert Gibbs goes on television and insinuates that Sebelius should be fired without the White House being in the loop that he was going to be saying that, and he was going to see what happens. I’m almost certain of it.

HH: All right, Reince Priebus, there’s a story tonight at the Washington Examiner about the review for only one bid for the Obamacare website design, a single source bid. Federal officials considered only one firm to design the Obamacare health insurance exchange that performed so abysmally. If that is in fact true, if Healthcare.gov was sole-sourced, doesn’t more than Sebelius have to go?

RP: Well, sure. I mean, and who know how far that’s going to go, Hugh? I don’t know. Obviously, it’s something that Darrell Issa and folks in the House are looking at, and I think it’s going to be a big problem. And we’ll see. I mean, generally, the White House would respond to something like that that’s been out there all day today, and they have not responded. They’ve been silent all day. We haven’t been able to get an answer on this today. So I think where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And we’re going to be pursuing it. This thing is going to be a disaster, okay? And I know people are very frustrated with what’s happening in Washington, and I’m as frustrated as anybody being a guy from Kenosha, Wisconsin. I guarantee you, this isn’t glory. But I will tell you that politically, I’m not saying this is what should happen. I think we should defund, delay, everything else and dismantle. But if this politically goes through, you know, getting these exchanges to go through and showing people what a miserable situation this Obamacare is, and tattooing it on the forehead of these Democrats that are running in red states, we’ll win in every red state in 2014.

HH: That’s what I agree…

RP: And so that’s going to happen.

HH: I mean, if you’re Tom Cotton or Mead Treadwell, you’re the happiest guy in American political landscape right now.

RP: Right. I mean, I think it was Mark Pryor that said something like the program’s fantastic, or something like that. And you know, and Cotton is going to be playing it over and over again, the exchanges are going to go through, one disaster after the next, and the Democrats are going to lose.

HH: Chairman Reince Priebus, always a pleasure and always informative. Thank you, my friend.

End of interview.

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