November 27th, 2012
09:28 PM ET
1 year ago

Priebus: It's time for a 'full autopsy' of 2012

(CNN) - While many Republicans have already diagnosed their party's problems after the presidential loss earlier this month, the chairman of the Republican National Committee is saying not so fast.

"I don't think you can draw any quick conclusions other than the fact that we lost and we know that," Reince Priebus said Tuesday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," the chairman's first television interview since the election. "But in order to get back in the game, you've got to look at and do a full autopsy of what happened."

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Priebus said that over the next several weeks the party will dive deep into analysis of the recent election and come up with a four-year game plan tailored to avoid the mistakes it made this time.

Many Republicans in recent weeks have called for a "bigger tent" party that will be more representative of the country's changing demographics. They cite President Barack Obama's overwhelming victory among minority groups. Obama took 71% of the Latino vote and 93% of the African American vote, according to CNN exit polls.

Priebus, however, did not wade into specifics Tuesday, saying only that the party will undergo a review and draft a plan that "both the grassroots and the donors and everyone in between can buy into for the next go-around."

Asked whether he believed the party's choice of Mitt Romney as the nominee was a mistake, Priebus said, "No, I don't think so at all."

"I think he would have made a great president," Priebus told Morgan.

He did acknowledge, however, that Obama's campaign had "something that was pretty good" in terms of its ground game and pledged that the party would look at taking a similar approach.

"What we can conclude is that we've got to be better, and that's something that we're committed to doing," he said.

Priebus also weighed in on the efforts to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, a massive amount of tax hikes and spending cuts that will kick in next year if Congress fails to act. The RNC chair accused the president of not sharing his plan with the American public.

While White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Obama's proposal will reduce the deficit by $4 trillion and include more than a trillion dollars in cuts "to discretionary, non-defense spending," Priebus said he wanted to hear it from the president himself.

"We haven't seen the plan. I haven't seen the plan," Priebus said. "I don't think the plan is out there. I think Jay Carney might be, but I don't see the plan."

Obama sat down November 16 with congressional leaders for the first round of negotiations, but a second White House meeting has yet to be scheduled. In the meantime, Obama has been meeting with labor and business groups to rally support for his push to raise tax rates on the wealthy as the best way to raise revenue.

Republicans disagree. They say closing loopholes and limiting deductions would be the better route and less damaging to the economy.

Engaging in a heated discussion with Morgan on Tuesday, Priebus said the fiscal cliff debate should not be focused on taxes but on the other side of the deficit reduction equation: spending cuts.

"It's absolutely, intellectually dishonest to have a conversation about tax increases until you talk about massive cuts in spending to the federal government," he said.

Priebus added: "That's like going to the hospital with a broken leg, taking a bunch of pain pills, and after a few hours you still have a broken leg. You have to fix the broken leg."

Elected to his position in 2011, Priebus said he intends to run again for the same position. He's expected to once again claim victory when the RNC votes for the chairmanship at its annual winter meeting in January, this time in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"We've turned things around here both financially and as an organization but now I think we need to lead to the next election," he said. "We need to figure out what we can do better and how to do that."

Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.


Filed under: 2012 • Fiscal Cliff • Reince Priebus • TV-Piers Morgan
soundoff (341 Responses)
  1. Orchid333

    Even if they do get their "Autopsy" of results they will do nothing but deny the truth: Their ideas and platforms are old, out of date, borderline racist and sexist, and the American People have moved past those things. But they couldn't see that if it hit them in the face.

    November 28, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  2. Sniffit

    And in a decade or two, we'll be doing the full autopsy of the GOP. Pretty sure all we'll find is "cause of death: angry, rich, bigotted white men and their undereducated dupes."

    November 28, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. Greg

    I will admit that republicans have some good ideas on how to deal with the economy. Mitt Romney was not one of them.

    November 28, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  4. willrepublicanshutup?

    Funny! So Obama won by over 100 electoral votes, not to mention the popular vote, but the election needs an autopsy! WOW! Republicans are proving YET AGAIN how USELESS they really, really are!

    November 28, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  5. a little sad

    Autoposy?

    Can't we just bury them?

    November 28, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  6. Me IN HOUSTON

    Maybe they need stop looking inward.
    It's hard to see the forest when you are in the middle of all of those trees
    Maybe they need someone on the outside to look in
    Conservatives don't know what's wrong with conservatives
    They don't know why others are rejecting conservatism.
    Maybe they should ask a liberal what's wrong with conservatives
    I SWEAR we will tell you ALL that is wrong with the conservatives
    and we will do so in a calm and objective manner

    November 28, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  7. Let's Be Reasonable

    Reince, the autopsy report was just completed. Here are the high points...

    * Romney was a deeply flawed candidate
    * Middle class Americans simply were not interested in policies that enrich the wealthy and shift tax burdens to the middle class.
    * Mitt Romney was always seens as mean, deceitful and grossly out of touch.
    * America really likes Obama.

    There's more in the autopsy report than that, but I think you get the gist. Anything else I can help you with?

    November 28, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  8. chupacabra, Texas

    The GOP loves democracy when they win but when they lose its time for an autopsy. The biggest reason the republicans lost is ; George W Bush......there it is, pure and simple. Generations will pass before the people will forget the Bush/Cheney reign of stupidity....that boy should have never been president....

    November 28, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. DENNA

    Reince, why don't you self-deport? Take with you everyone who was not here before the Mayflower. That should clear the place up nicely. That way, the Native American tribes of this country can go about trying to fix the "progress" that the settlers brought. ;-)

    November 28, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  10. calamity jane

    I am so proud of what we, as democrats did to re-elect Obama. While the republicans tried to suppress the votes of minorities and poor people, while they poured money hand-over-fist into their candidate's campaign, while they tried to formulate fear out of thin air to persuade the American people that Obama was the anti-Christ, while they tried to persuade the average hard-working American that the only way they could gain a foothold on their lives was to vote for a party that is paid for by wealthy casino owners, while they tried to demonize Obama at every turn, we, the people, put our collective foot down and said "enough". It is OUR turn now. We are now looking out for ourselves and you can take all your fear-mongering and viscious lies to your own party members who will dedicate themselves to your filth and swim in the bile with you. I am so proud of us who finally stood up for our true American values and decided not to lie there and take the beating anymore. What a wonderful country.

    November 28, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. Aatami

    I think it's less about an autopsy and more about a good hard look in the mirror.

    November 28, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  12. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Here's an autopsy for ya...death by lethal wound to head. Yours Truly: SEAL TEAM 6!

    November 28, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  13. chupacabra, Texas

    A $70,000.00 'dressage' horse in the olypics and all for a tax write off didn't help him iether.

    November 28, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  14. Ed, Spring, TX

    Republicans are the only ones baffled by the loss. Totally clueless. How funny. Another thing that's funny is that Republicans are saying they don't need to do much becasue it was such a close election. They're right if you just look at the numbers. But, considering that the current president's approval rating was so low, the shape of the economy and everything else, the Republicans should have won by 10 points yet managed to barely lose. I consider the election to be a huge upset victory by the Democrats. If it had been a normal election year the Republicans would have lost by a landslide. Just my humble opinion

    November 28, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  15. Donkey Party

    Forget the autopsy, just read the obituary, the GOP is dead and nearly extinct, killed by a disease called "conservatism".

    November 28, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. Sniffit

    "Can't we just bury them?"

    I'm sorry, but burning is the only way to make sure they don't come back from the dead.

    November 28, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  17. Laurie in Spokane

    Autopsy? OK here goes:
    Romney wasn't specific on issues, and flip-flopped on a lot of them.
    The electorate is tired of GOP inaction and actual thwarting of plans put forth by the Democrats.
    The electorate is even more tired of the GOP's rigid, self-righteous and hypocritcal stance on abortion, gay marriage, and women's rights.
    Isn't that enough?

    November 28, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    First and foremost, the autopsy will reveal the R's need a new chairman, who apparently still can't believe Romney's campaign got schooled on multiple fronts - by minorities, young people, women, etc.. This joke of a party couldn't even control their own convention. They threw enormous amounts of money around and were so out of touch with reality that they were shocked - SHOCKED!! - that Obama rolled on election night. The party has long been hijacked by right-wing extremists and Tea Baggers, who are simply offensive on social issues that matter to most Americans. Good luck picking through the rotting corpse Repubs.

    November 28, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  19. steve

    Republican election problems: bad candidate with no vision or empathy, no ideas to solve serious long-term economic problems, and small tent Tea Party platform. Otherwise everything went well.

    November 28, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  20. Sniffit

    ""It's absolutely, intellectually dishonest to have a conversation about tax increases until you talk about massive cuts in spending to the federal government," he said. "

    NO. Let me fix that for you so it fits the historical record of what the GOP actually did to the country under Dubya:

    "It's absolutely, intellectually dishonest to have a conversation about TAX CUTS until you talk about massive cuts in spending to the federal government,"

    Name me a responsible business owner who would look at his books and his fixed expenses and then voluntarily decrease his revenue stream BEFORE making cuts to said expenses so that the decreased revenue would not cause budget deficits and force him to accumulate debt. NAME ME THAT PERSON.

    November 28, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. Zenger Folkman

    Reince, by asking for an "autopsy" you are being disingenuous. Do you expect us to believe that you are the only person in the US–GOP, Dem, independent–who needs to find out why your party lost so badly?

    November 28, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  22. Tom

    Actually I think some analysis of the 2012 election would be good for the Republican party - but only if it's objective and the party is willing to make some changes based on the results. If the "autopsy" concludes Romney wasn't conservative enough, or that Obama somehow "stole" the election by getting people to vote for him (oh the horror) then why waste the time? Romney made his share of mistakes which helped to cost him the 2012 election, but the Republican party has been drifting away from popular opinion for some time. The American electorate is, by definition, middle of the road. Any time a political party moves too far from the center its popularity will suffer. The Republican party seems to have veered off course to appease party extremists (not to mention the quest for ratings among the conservative media). The 2012 election demonstrated there simply aren't enough angry white voters to swing a national election. The Republican party needs another plan. But driving change is going to be difficult. I think one of the biggest mistakes Romney made was failing to demonstrate enough leadership to control the extremists in his own party; which allowed the crazy wedge issues to creep into his campaign and dilute his message. The Republicans need a strong leader who can keep the party focused on important issues and relegate the right wing nuts to the shadows. I don't know who that might be. The party has driven away people with ideas in favor of mindless ideologues. The result has been a party of individuals willing to pound their fist on the table and argue the talking points du jour (especially if leads to an interview on Fox News) but no one to develop credible new ideas. I'm not saying the Democrats are better in the ideas department, I'm just saying the opportunity for the Republicans to regain credibility is by generating new ideas that will attract bipartisan support. Blocking, bashing and complaining isn't a winning strategy.

    November 28, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  23. daverelentless

    Why the GOP lost...

    Message rooted in 1880.
    anti-woman
    anti-black
    anti-union
    anti-student
    anti-hispanic.

    nuff said.!

    November 28, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Rick

    How about a quick burial without a grave marker?

    November 28, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. Church of Suicidal

    The reason Huntsman did not stand a chance of getting the GOP nomination? Rational and moderate = RINO. He just wasn't extreme or nutty enough. Look how much longer fr0thy Rick and Bachman lasted.

    November 28, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
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