RNC Chairman Reince Priebus: Hillary Research Already Underway
HH: Back in California after two wonderful days in the nation’s capital, but I can’t keep talking about anything except Obamacare. And the best person to do that, chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, who really mixed it up yesterday with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz on Crossfire. Mr. Chairman, welcome back and a happy December to you.
RP: Hey, happy to be on the show, Hugh. Yeah, I don’t, you know, shouting at each other for 20 minutes is interesting TV, but you know, a couple of good things that came out of that. Number one, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz again doubles down on the idea that Democrat Senate candidates are going to run on Obamacare. Now think about this. They’re going to run on Obamacare in Arkansas, South Dakota, Montana, Alaska and Louisiana. You’ve got to be kidding me. But you know what? That’s fine. You know, Christmas Vacation, you remember, you know that movie, right?
RP: Christmas Vacation? It was on TV last night, which is one of my favorite Christmas movies. And at the end, you remember Cousin Eddie when Clark gets shafted with the jelly of the month club, Cousin Eddie says you know what, Clark, that’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year round. Well, that’s what Obamacare is. Unfortunately, it’s a disaster. But if these Democrats think that this is something that’s good for this country, they’ve got another thing coming. Young people can’t stand it, they’re not going to sign up. It’s only going to get worse.
HH: Oh, and beginning in January, we’re going to have a parade of horrible stories of people who lost their coverage and have suffered catastrophic illness or injury in the period that they’re not covered as a result of President Obama’s rollout. But I hope you keep going on with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, because she is, the first rule of holes is not to keep digging. But she digs deeper every single time, as does the President. It seems to me, Chairman Priebus, they are committed.
HH: They are committed, Alice In Wonderland-like, to calling up is down.
RP: And so what we do then now is we take the quotes from something like Crossfire, where Debbie Wasserman-Schultz says that Democrats are going to run on Obamacare, and then we use them in places like Louisiana and Arkansas and South Dakota, and we’re going to hit them over the head with it. And like I said a million times, we’ll tattoo it to their forehead. But I want your listeners to know that it’s not just a bunch of talk. I mean, at the RNC, we actually, you know, the things we do on a monthly basis that we stress out about is paying for now a year-round ground operation in all of these targeted Senate and House races, with a huge emphasis on the ground game, on our Hispanic and Asian and African-American outreach in all sorts of races around the country. We are the ones that pay for the targeted races for governor, Senate and House. And using all of these things that we do and talk about every day in the field and door to door is how we win these elections. And it’s a big part of how we succeed.
HH: Now Reince Priebus, I play a trick on my friends from the media who come in, like Mark Leibovich was on Monday, and Maggie Haberman a couple of weeks ago. And I asked them just point blank can you tell me what Secretary of State Clinton accomplished when she was Secretary of State Clinton? And they can’t come up with anything, because she didn’t do anything. And my question is when will the RNC really begin to focus on the fact she is their de facto nominee, and you can’t start too soon to define her four years at State as the empty nothing that they were?
RP: Well, we have, so our research shop, along with America Rising, has been focusing in on Hillary Clinton. But I agree with you that there needs to be a more of a focus. But obviously, we’re trying to get to the midterms, and we’re trying to make sure that we set ourselves up properly in these governor and Senate races. But I think that there’s a lot of rough stuff coming out on Hillary that you know, it doesn’t just come out of thin air. It comes from somewhere. And sometimes, it comes from us, and sometimes, it comes from other groups. But I think you’re right. I think that we have to be very aggressive on what she’s done or hasn’t done. And the things that she is famous for, like a botched health care rollout in the 90s, and Benghazi, and the things that she is involved with that are or went obviously pretty badly, we need to focus in on.
HH: Now what are you going to do with De Blasio, the new mayor of New York? Today, he named as his deputy mayor an old friend of mine, Tony Shorris. And I went to school with Tony. He’s a great guy. He’s as far left as you can possibly be. He’s a wonderful guy. I’m sure De Blasio is a wonderful guy. But they’re more lefties. Are you guys going to watch what happens to the great city of New York, which had righted itself under Rudy Giuliani, and had not fallen off of the rails with Michael Bloomberg, except when it came to soda and guns, as it falls back into the trap of liberalism?
RP: Absolutely. In fact, we’re working really, just for the first time ever, and you can follow all this, and you follow the money and you’ll see it, for the first time ever now, the RNC is working with the New York GOP, which by the way, they’ve done an incredibly good job of improving their party under their chairman, Ed Cox, out there. They’ve won everything outside of New York, by the way. They won county exec races up in Buffalo and Erie County. They won in Westchester County in Rob Astorino won there. But we’re working on hiring a field staff right now in New York. You might wonder why would the RNC be spending money in New York? It’s because of exactly what you said. And so we’re doing not just traditional voter turnout operations in targeted Congressional districts in New York, but we’re also doing things that we haven’t done before in New York like having an African-American state director, a Hispanic director in New York City, working with the GOP and us, paid for by us and the GOP in New York, to do long term work in the field, in a state that we’ve ignored for a long time. And so that’s happening across the country. In California, Hugh, I know I’m going on too long, but even in California, we’ve got the biggest Asian engagement program that the RNC and the California GOP has ever been involved with. You don’t hear a lot about it, but it’s that type of work on the ground that our party has not been doing on a long term basis that we’re doing differently. Now it’s hard to do, it’s expensive, you don’t get a lot of credit for it, but it’s important for us to do it.
HH: Well, let’s finish with the most important thing of all. When the Republican governors met in Scottsdale a week and a half ago, John Kasich gave this terrific speech. I’m sure you heard it. And I’m sure you thought to yourself now there’s the guy who ought to be welcoming the 2016 convention delegates to the Cleveland arena. I’m sure that they…
HH: That was on your mind…
RP: I was wondering where you were going with this.
HH: You had to have, John Kasich would be the perfect host. That list has just got to have Cleveland on it, right? That’s the only place.
RP: Listen, well, and you know, you know that you’ve got, do you realize that you probably have competition from both Cincinnati and Columbus?
HH: They don’t have the mass transit, they’re not going to have a Super Bowl champion the way that we will in 2016.
HH: There’s all sorts of reasons, so just, I’ll leave you with that, Mr. Chairman. When you heard Kasich talk, you ought to have thought to yourself, now there’s a guy who can host a party and we need the mass transit, and we’ll have the Super Bowl. And you’ll have the Cavs in the playoffs at the same time if you do it in June or early July. When are you making that decision by the way?
RP: You are such a homer.
HH: Just a touch. When are you making those decisions, by the way?
RP: We’re already making decisions as to timing of the convention. We’re definitely going to do the convention earlier than August. But the decision as far as where we’re going, we sent out the RFP’s now to the interested cities. Cleveland is certainly one of them. Those RFP’s will come back to the RNC sometime in February. We’ll go to all the different sites. And a decision will likely be made at the summer meeting in August of next year, 2014.
HH: There’s only one Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. When you go to Cleveland for the site visit, let me know, Reince Priebus. I’ll be there to make sure we home town it up. But have a great Christmas, and I’ll talk to you in the new year.
RP: Thanks, Hugh. All right, God bless.
HH: And you, too. Take care. I love talking to Chairman Priebus. He’s upbeat, he’s always on top of it. It reminds me of the years when Mehlman would show up on like five seconds notice and rattle off. But I’m not going to let him get away with putting it anywhere else, right? And he has to admit, the Super Bowl will be there.
End of interview.