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RNC Chairman Reince Priebus Hints At Rule Changes To Get Future Presidential Debates Out Of MSM Hands

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HH: Just moments ago, Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois showed up with an apple and a thermos for Rand Paul. Senator Moran of Kansas gave him a much needed question. Hopefully, he got a bathroom break in there. I’m joined now by chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. Mr. Chairman, welcome and Happy New Year to you. Do you know you’ve got a happening here. People are pretty excited about Rand Paul doing this.

RP: Well, of course, and you know what? We need more people doing it. And if the President wants a food fights, I guess we’ll give it to him. But we also want someone that’s willing to lead this country. Unfortunately, he’s not willing to do it. He’s a good campaigner. I mean, we’ll give him that. And we have. I mean, he campaigns, and that’s what he does. But I’ve got to tell you, we’ve got to continue to pound away on these issues. We can’t allow the President to just continue to try to build a brand that’s phony and not real. And that’s our obligation as a party. So we’re going to keep doing it. You know, the sequester is a dud, and he said that the sky was going to fall. And obviously, that didn’t happen. And on top of that, we have to face the reality as Republicans and conservatives that we have to build a year-round party. We’re going to have to join in with the Democrats in the world of permanent politics, and that’s what I’m working on, Hugh. And I just broke away from putting up, we’re releasing a plan in a few weeks, but it’s going to be detailed, it’s going to be granular, and it means that we’re going to have to hire and get involved with loads of people across the country fighting in communities with people from those communities, on a year round basis – voter registration, community events, swearing in ceremonies, and also drop the blue state/red state analysis and start fighting for states again that we’ve dropped off the map with years ago. It’s going to be a long term view, but we’re going to have to bear down and do it, and we’re going to have to be darn good at it if we’re going to compete.

HH: That is all good news. It also means taking in the opportunities when they come along, and when Rand Paul creates a media event like this, which is getting the world to pay attention that the party support him. I saw the NRSC just did, and they said stand with Rand Paul. I’m sure that you do, Chairman Priebus, and…

RP: I think, actually, I have to tell you, Hugh, I think we started it.

HH: Did you?

RP: Yeah, I think we hit the first hashtag, #StandWithRandPaul.

HH: Very smart.

RP: And we’re working on an event, actually me and Rand, to go up to a couple of states and start doing listening tours as well. You know, we’re doing listening tours across the country with Republicans and liberty movement Republicans, Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans, and we’re going to be doing that all over the country. I’m going to be in Iowa tomorrow, and we’re going to be talking about what we need to do to grow this party. How can we be totally unified as a party knowing that we’re not fighting for the future of this party, we’re fighting for the future of this country. And we’ve just got to get that fire in the belly again, Hugh.

HH: Well, I think it’s there. In fact, I’ve got to ask you, I’ve got to warn you, I don’t want to scare you off, but every time you come on the show, I mean, like every time you come on, and I hope you come on often, I’m going to ask you the same thing, which is about the debates of 2015.

RP: (laughing)

HH: Right now, if we had Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio out there beginning in June of 2015 debating with conservative, center-right pundits and columnists and reporters, it would be the greatest thing in the world. But if we turn it back over to the left wing MSM again, so have you got a plan for that, Mr. Chairman?

RP: I do, and I’ve got to tell you, there was something, some of your listeners aren’t going to like this, but let me just explain. Do you remember at our convention, there was a part of our convention where there was some people not happy with some of the rule changes that took place at the convention?

HH: Sure.

RP: And I will tell you, number one, and for the people that aren’t happy about it, I’m more than happy to fix whatever it is that needs to be fixed, and we have the opportunity to do that. We have the chance on this issue of the debates, Hugh, for the first time in the history of our party, we can in between conventions, because we never, we couldn’t do this before without a national convention, we can amend the rules of our party to get a hold of the debate process, and actually write in and control the rules of the debates. So now we have the right to set the number of the debates, to pick the moderators of the debates, to set the ground rules for what groups and what networks and what stations, what radio networks, whatever it might be, Hugh, that are going to be the moderators of the debates. Before, when you and I talked two years ago, we were totally unable to control the debates, because listen, when you’ve got ten people that are running, and nine out of the ten raise their hand for whatever single debate is offered, you’ve got to debate. But now, we have the opportunity to actually help and pick and choose moderators, networks, and we can do some of those things that you and I talked about, and do it in a reasonable, intelligent way that gives our people, and the people that actually care about the future of our party, a seat at the table in making these decisions.

HH: Boy, I’ll tell you, Reince Priebus, if you put out a fundraising appeal to help defray the costs of developing and monitoring that, you’ll be flooded with contributions. I mean, if you say help mold the debates, or help us reform the debate process, send us a hundred bucks and we’ll put it work making sure that we don’t get hijacked again, you’ll be overwhelmed with support.

RP: And I don’t know if you’ve seen a little bit of this stuff trickle out in the media, but I’ve been pretty forward about what I think about all this. And we just can’t be captive to another audience that doesn’t have the best interest of our party and us being successful in mind. And so…

HH: So when do we see that? When do we get the blueprint?

RP: Well, we’re going to have some details on this issue coming out around March 18th, which is only a couple of weeks away. I would suggest to you that on the debate process, it’s going to be a rule change that we’re going to be debating probably in the summer of this year, or as late as maybe the winter. But you’re going to see the skeleton of this plan start to roll out in the next few weeks. And if you look real hard, you’ll see that I’ve made comments similar to what I just told you on this issue in the press over the last couple of weeks, and that controlling the debate process, getting involved in moderators and networks and all of these other issues, so that we don’t have chaos. I mean, we just can’t have MSNBC hosting a debate at the Reagan Library only to have their network make the commentary afterwards for three hours about the debate of the Republican Party. I mean, it’s ridiculous.

HH: It is, and God bless you. That is what I needed to hear. Reince Priebus, come back early and often on the listening tour. When you get to California, come into the studio, and we’ll take calls from the audience. You can listen to them, the smartest audience in America. Reince Priebus, chairman of the RNC, thank you.

End of interview.

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