RNC announces $10 million plan to beef up Republican outreach
March 17th, 2013
12:52 PM ET
1 year ago

RNC announces $10 million plan to beef up Republican outreach

(CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced Sunday the organization will spend $10 million on hundreds of staff workers to communicate conservative principles in cities across the country.

As part of its conclusion from a months-long "autopsy" of the GOP - which will be formally announced Monday - the RNC will also work to shorten the primary calendar, limit the number of debates in presidential primaries, and move up the party's convention date.

In the outreach portion of the plan, Priebus said, the RNC will pay people "from coast to coast in Hispanic, African-American, Asian communities" to talk about the GOP brand.

"(They'll be) talking about what we believe in, going to community events, going to swearing-in ceremonies, being a part of the community on an ongoing basis … make the case for our party and candidates," he said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Following the Republican Party's presidential loss and significant Senate losses in the 2012 election, the RNC conducted a major self-review of the party, seeking ways to improve its messaging. The group will further detail the report Monday at the National Press Club in Washington.

Demographics have also been at the center of the GOP's makeover, after exit polls revealed that President Obama won overwhelmingly among minority voters. That was especially seen among Latino voters, who favored Obama over GOP nominee Mitt Romney by 71% to 27%.

In its self-assessment, the RNC heard from more than 50,000 people - by phone, polling or through focus groups. One of the major points that emerged, Priebus said, was that the party needed branding and marketing not just during election seasons, but year-round. He said the plan to get more engaged in various communities includes a commitment to make more visits to historically black colleges and tell the story of the GOP.

"If you're not in the community, if you're not talking to people and the level of familiarity isn't there, then things - silly things like Todd Akin and some of the goofy things that are said - the caricature becomes true if you're not there.

If we have unscripted moments and you've got no relationship to explain anything, obviously, I believe you're a sitting duck," he said.

He was referring to Akin's controversial statement about rape that ultimately derailed the Missouri congressman's campaign for the U.S. Senate – a seat he was favored to win.

Priebus didn't say the party intends to change any of its principles or policies, but focused on the way Republicans communicate those messages.

"We have to win the math war, which we do a good job of. But we're going to have to learn how to win the heart war," he said "And that's what, in presidential elections, what is plaguing our party."

Reshaping the party's messaging strategy was a common point of self-criticism at this year's Conservative Political Action conference, which wrapped up Saturday. And House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday the issue with the party has nothing to do with its principles, but the way it gives voice to those ideas.

"We've gotta do a better job of helping people understand what our principles are in terms that they deal with every day," Boehner said on ABC's "This Week."

Priebus said another common theme among the 50,000 people questioned was a view that the party was characterized by "stuffy, old guys."

Priebus said such analysis was "painful to hear" and pointed to some of the rising stars in the GOP, such as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Priebus said other upcoming strategies include making changes to the election year calendar, in particular the calendar for debates and primaries. Starting a year and a half before the 2012 election, Republican candidates ultimately participated in about two dozen primary debates over the next 10 months.

Such a long, crowded process hurt the party, he argued.

"While we were playing footsy debating each other 23 times, what was the other side doing? They were spending potentially hundreds of millions of dollars on data, technology, voter outreach. They're actually getting the job done," he said.

Priebus said if it were up to him, he would set a beginning date for the primary season of January 1, with the end date at the end of April or mid-May. He even floated the idea of a "regional rotating primary" in which the country would be divided into quarters and each region would hold a primary every two or three weeks.

He would then hold the convention in mid-June or the end of July, adding that he will lead a commission that will look into that date process.

One of the reasons Romney "was a sitting duck for two months over the summer," Priebus continued, was because he was not allowed to legally use RNC money until he officially became the Republican presidential nominee at the convention during the last week of August.

The chairman, who was re-elected to his position in January, said if the party doesn't get started on its retooling now, it's not going to be successful in future elections.

"This is going to be huge," Priebus said. "And we're ready to go, and we're ready to lead."


Filed under: Reince Priebus • RNC
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Paul

    Priebus thinks you can just throw money out there to have people tell others that the Republican party really isn't against minorities, immigrants, women, medicare, etc. etc. Unfortunately actions speak louder than words, and until you can get the radicals of your party controlled, you will still be the party of good ole boys. Just look at the Republican governors and legislatures across the country that are forcing their own social agendas on everyone else, preventing groups from voting, and passing laws hurting the middle class.

    March 17, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. rs

    Outreach to whom?

    The fundamental reality of the Republicans platform in short is: they're pro-rich.

    Everything else is secondary (or worse). They put the rich ahead of the poor, the middle class, our children, the workers, minorities and women. Mr. Jeb Bush yesterday at CPAC rattled off a list of what he thought the public thought the GOP was against- he was right one every single count (and he missed a few too). He was right because the GOP IS against all those things and all those people.

    As long as the GOP thinks that their policies and positions are great, they just need to say it differently or better to get the votes of those they are hurting- they are doomed.

    Look, the 1 % can fund the GOP very well- and that's where this $10 million came from, but really until the GOP actually does something for the vast majority of Americans (something good), they will lose in the voting booth- even with their voter -suppression activities. Throw in the other stuff- the ant-education, anti-science, anti-health care, anti-civil rights, anti-voters' rights, their hatred for the environment and wildlife, and on and on that things just get worse for them.

    Picking a lunatic like Rand Paul as a possible Presidential candidate simply cements the deal. The GOP is lost.

    March 17, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. 66Biker

    The main thing this plan, like so many other conservative plans, does is to demonstrate just how out of touch with reality the Republicon party is. Politics is a game, and how you play it says a lot more about you than anything else. Doing something for no other reason than it's good for the country will do you a lot more good than 1000 speeches. But doing something simply because it's good for the country does not seem to be in the Republicon playbook. Until they get over this Party of No crap they have been doing for several years now they will continue to spiral downwards until an autopsy really is necessary.

    March 17, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. bugbuster

    the GOP has made their beliefs perfectly clear. That's why they lost the election. It won't help to plaster more lipstick on that pig.

    March 17, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. Ove Sorensen

    Prairiebus could spend billions on the conservative principles. They are still outdated, stupid, old, white and dead.

    March 17, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Basically, they still hate blacks, Latinos, gays, lesbians, transgendered, women and the poor, but they want your vote. Nice try little man!

    March 17, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Becki

    The RNC will never succeed unless they get rid of the religious right. The vast majority of conservatives and moderates are as offended by the hijacking of the republican party by the religious right as they are by the hijacking of the democratic party by the socialist/communist left.

    March 17, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. gitfidl

    First he has to discover what conservative principles are: the conservatives joined the Tea Party as the Republicans went RINO and got lost in LEFT field.

    March 17, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. Marie MD

    $10M???
    Losing over $400M, and that might be a low figure, wasn't enough?

    March 17, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  10. harold

    He still doeasn't get it.

    Republicans' economic policies, taken as a whole, are a huge transfer of wealth from the middle class to the very wealthy.

    Republican social policy is repressive and puritanical, anti-science, and counterproductive.

    So organize away, Mr. Priebus.

    March 17, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. Doug S

    Lets see what a GOP outreach would be. NO hands out for the 11 million undocumented aliens but to deport each one. No hand out for at least 5% of the population that are gay and want a marriage like the rest of us. No hand out for the poor children in headstart. No hand out for our poorest middle class on food stamps. No hand out for the minimum wage to help those poor struggling just to survive. Did I miss anything. NO hand out for the poor seniors or disabled. The middle class is getting taken for a ride when you see the GOP tax plan. 25% bracket for the rich and after decuctions its more like 5% and thats lower than a family making $40k year. Outreach to those that have the same convictions which represents less than 30%. We need to fight for the Democratic ideals that made our country great. The teabaggers and the GOP will never win another Pres election for we DEMS hold the majority.

    March 17, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  12. PJ

    So, they are going to pay people to infiltrate minority communities, "coast to coast" in America. Are they going to
    buy these "plants" homes to live in so they can be a "part of the community on an ongoing basis" to "talk about the
    GOP brand"? Will they be called "secret service agents", "witness protection program recipients", or what they
    truly are: paid manipulators?
    They haven't changed their message, and won't, so the "brand" they will be spending $10M on, is the same
    "brand" that the American people have already rejected.
    Wow. The "months-long autopsy of the GOP" revealed the same old cold-hearted "my way-highway", buy the
    votes, and lie, lie, lie plan.
    Great insight.

    March 17, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  13. becca

    My God, first on the list should be ditching RINSE PREBUS(sp. intentional). He is off the charts w/his churlish behavior, and druken slurs. May just be the way he talks, but he sounds sloshed most of the time. He also has a very unstable vibe about him. Just saying.......go ahead, keep him.

    March 17, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  14. don in albuquerque

    And they are going to reach out to Who? I don't think they have actually found life on Mars yet.

    March 17, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    GOP outreach: Pay CEOs to lay off even more people, to create an even larger group of disgruntled, disheartened citizens, who, in desperation turn to Fox and Limbaugh and all the other spewers of hate and lies, in an effort to convince voters to vote Repub and against their own self-interest.

    March 17, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Uncle S

    After an autopsy if one resumes life it's only as a zombie, just like the Tea-Repubs were before–zombies.

    March 17, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Where DID the GOP go wrong? Hint: they continued to think that Mitt Romney was going to be such a strong WHITE candidate that the GOP (Reince Priebus included) convinced themselves that folks who voted for Barack Obama the first time around would never vote for him a second time, thus allowing the GOP to continue to embrace the bigotry and the hate rhetoric coming from the Libertarians and the TeaPers; Limbaugh and Coulter; and, yes, from FOX News as well. Indeed, they all laughed right up until election day. And are still laughing in glee at their obstruction and their trolling.

    Not one moderate Republican spoke up against the hate. Not one. Generally speaking, neither did the media. And come 2016, all that hate and all that rhetoric is going to come back to bite them just as it did in 2012. In primaries throughout America. Blue state and red state alike. Without a minority on the other side to kick around, the TeaPers and the Libertarians will start to devour their own.

    You had your little laugh, Priebus. But the last laugh? It will be on you and your party of bigotry and hate. Keep boxing yourselves into that corner, folks. You deserve the contempt most Americans are throwing your way.

    March 17, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  18. old professor

    It was clear the Republican party needed some adjustments in their primary process. I think their problem is deeper than the primary mistakes but this is a beginning.

    March 17, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  19. BeverlyNC

    Changing dates, venues, numbers of debates is not the problem with the current Republican Party. Spending more money to spread their already-rejected polices of social and economic destruction will turn even more People away from the Republican Party.
    They just don't get it. Their views and "values" are totally opposite of the vast majority of today's Americans and our priorities for moving forward. We heard more than enough of their extremisit views all through 2011 – why would we want to hear more of what we have already rejected?
    Does anyone really want to listen to more disrespect of women, callous and inhumane views of our poor, ignoring of education, the issues most affecting the lives of the People, and worst yet going after the right of ALL citizens to vote? All I feel from the Republican Party is betrayal.

    March 17, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    The conservative agenda is dead in this country forevvverrr

    March 17, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. dave

    Spot on. Nothing will win hearts and minds more than paying someone to be in communities you don't associate with. Being there will certainly make the rape comments more humanizing. And finding a way to brand your message in a way that will relate to things people deal with everyday is certainly heroic. If you changed the message itself to actually relate to things people deal with everyday that would be selling out. How can the GOP lose in 2014 and 2016?

    March 17, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. Randy, San Francisco

    Chump change for show not substance. So little money for mission impossible. Republican policy positions need to be change to meet a changing demographics.

    March 17, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. Reggie from LA

    Yes, "Wrench". By all means you should, as always, reach out for more VOTERS. I was reading an article awhile back. I believe that it encompassed comments from Haley Barbour. He mentioned some things that the GOP much change. Basically things they must do to be greater. I think this "outreach" effort is A thing to "do". The problem for the GOP is that we are now in an age of information. We get to see and decide now. You see, what they DO is one thing. What they ARE is altogether another. What Reince and his ilk cannot BE, just yet, is something highly desirous for the citizens of America. Many of them have tunnel vision, support wealth, deregulation, gerrymandering, oligarchy...I'll stop here.

    March 17, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. Jerubbaal

    It's not the messaging, it's the message and the principles. The GOP cannot change the image that these minority communities hold towards them any time soon. We cannot forget the years of racial and bigotted hate, the years of economic repressive policies, and the cold, callous exploitation of the GOP. Your brand and unwanted operatives are unwanted in our communities. We are aware that all you want are our votes. The Ryan budget proves that you do not have our best interests at heart, slashing education, law enforcement, affordable health care, affordable housing,middle class public sector jobs and pell grants all to maintain tax loopholes for corporations aod the top 2 percent. The GOP has massively redistributed the wealth of this nation with their trickle up economics, concentrating the wealth in an ever increasing smaller percentage of Americans, so no thanks.

    March 17, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. Evergreen

    The voting public is not looking for "branding" or "marketing." We don't want to be sold a product. We want to hear your ideas and vision for the 21st Century and the 21st Century workplace.

    March 17, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
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