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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus on the way forward as a party

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HH: If you’re a Republican, and you’re feeling down in the mouth, well, some good news today. Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, announced he is going to seek another term, and he joins me now. Chairman Priebus, congratulations. This is good news. I hope this is a by unanimous consent move.

RP: Well, things feel pretty good right now. We’ve got over 150 Republican endorsements. There’s only 166 possible, so you know, listen, I think we’ve got a lot of work to do. I think from a standing start, inheriting $25 million dollars of debt, you know, one of the stories that I’ve never really, I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this story with anybody, but the money situation here was so bad that when we first started, both credit cards were suspended at the RNC.

HH: Oh.

RP: And I actually had to use, and God blessed us in the fact that I didn’t have a balance on two of our credit cards going into this job, which sometimes you have a balance, like we all do. And so we had to pay for the travel of me and several employees for a couple of months before we got our finances straight. So you know what? We turned things around as far as the Committee going from really being non-existent to being a real powerhouse. But I don’t want your listeners or you, Hugh, for one second to believe that I don’t get and understand the fact that okay, in the 18 months that we turned things around, and we became a respectable committee again, but the point is four years from now, we have to be a thousand times better. And I think we not only want to compete with everything the other side is doing, but we want to have a better product. We want to defeat them, and we want to be better at everything, whether it be data, whether it be outreach, whether it be registration. Whatever the case is, we need to be better. And so I’m ready to do that. I think it’s important to have that commitment, and so we’re heading up a task force. We’re going to be announcing on Monday or Tuesday early next week several people involved in that, and then we’re going to be putting forward a number of things that we’re going to be analyzing so that at the end of this, Hugh, we’re going to be adopting a two and four year plan going forward which will incorporate the absolute best possible product that we can sell to the grassroots and the donors across America, to make sure that we’re not just competing, but we’re defeating our opponents. And so that’s sort of the long and short of it.

HH: That is a great long and short of it, but let me ask some specifics. Since the election, I have received numerous missives, some long, some short, about allegations of fraud in key states. And you know, I’m not in a position to investigate these. No one is except really the RNC. What do you make about those reports, not that it was decisive in the election. I’m not arguing that. But people are worried that fraud occurred in significant places, and it just went unreported, undetected, unpunished.

RP: Well, you know, I’ve always been, I’m from Wisconsin, and we’ve had, I think John Fund dedicated an entire chapter to just the city of Milwaukee, which is unique in that the Milwaukee Police Department actually issued a 70 page report on real problems that occur in the ballot box, and they’re serious. One of the things that we were able to do, and we’ve already partnered with a number of states right now, right at this moment, to help them in their legal fights in the courts across America to try to look into some of these allegations. Now the RNLA, I don’t know if anyone knows what that is, but that’s a great organization. It’s the Republican National Lawyers Association. They’ve made it their endeavor and their mission to go after every one of these allegations, so if you go online, I don’t have the website off the top of my head, but obviously with Google, it’s easy to figure out. It’s the Republican National Lawyers Association. If you know of fraud that has occurred, my suggestion is that you forward that information to them, and we’re also working on all of this as well. But you know, that’s why simple things like photo ID are important across America.

HH: Do you think any state was lost because of fraud, Reince?

RP: Oh, I don’t know about that. I mean, you know, in the really close ones, I mean, perhaps there are possibilities of it. But I think that’s sort of tough to answer.

HH: All right, then let me ask about the…

RP: I think, I mean, if anyone gives you a definitive answer on that, they’re just guessing, right?

HH: They’re just guessing.

RP: I mean, and I don’t want to guess.

HH: All right. Let me ask you about the tech edge, which you referred to. The collapse of Orca is now well written up. But Ruffini and others have said, and I read the Atlantic story on the tech edge that Team Obama had. Can we close that gap? 90% of Google and Apple contributions go to Obama? It suggests an enormous tech gap.

RP: Well, for one thing, I think there is a tech gap, and we had a meeting today here, coincidentally you bring it up, across the street in Washington. We brought in over a hundred different leaders in the data and tech community to talk about what was done. Here’s what I would say. I would say that Team Romney did an outstanding job in the six months or eight months that they used to put together the best six and eight month tech and media digital operation that you could put together in six or eight months. But the conclusion is, as you point out, that we can’t compete in six and eight month increments. I mean, we have to understand that this is now a four year operation, and that for four straight years, we have to be competitive in the data and tech area. And really, that’s not where we were, and that’s where we need to be. Now you know, Barack Obama was at it for four straight years. And it’s not good enough to build up for a one year hit. It’s not going to work anymore. But now we have the opportunity to address it.

HH: I’m glad to hear that. Let me make sure I cover the debate issue as well, and not the final three, but the primary season, and whether or not you as a chairman are going to work to just bring sanity to that, to stop it from being a left wing assault on our candidates, and to assure some representation of fairness in both the primary and the general election season.

RP: This is a good topic, and I hope that we can talk about it again soon, because I don’t want to eat up all your time, but I will tell you my general view is that the way to deal with this moving forward, and we didn’t have the opportunity to do this, we walked into it with eight debates already on the calendar. But the way we can do this moving forward is that you have to tie the debate calendar to the nomination for president. In other words, you adopt a debate calendar. You adopt who you want the moderators to be. And then you tie that calendar to the nomination. A president basically needs the Republican Party for a couple of huge things, and one is they need to make sure that a majority of delegates at a national convention support them. And when that happens, they can then become a nominee for president on ballots across America. Well, if you tie the debate calendar, and there can be many ways that you can do it, through delegate awards or bonuses or penalties. If you tie the debate calendar to the nomination, that’s the one way that you truly can control the calendar, because here’s the problem. If you’ve got ten people running for president…

HH: 30 seconds, Reince.

RP: And NBC says here are two hours, we’re going to be at the Reagan Library, who’s in, and eight people raise their hand, if you don’t control the process, how are you going to stop the other two from being at the debate, too? That’s the issue, right?

HH: That is the issue, and I look forward to a lot of time on this, because it just hurt us badly. Next time you’re back, I’ll start to lobby you on Cleveland as the RNC 2016 site, Reince Priebus. Thank you and congratulations. Good luck in the reelection, you did a great job.

End of interview.

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