November 27th, 2012
09:28 PM ET
9 years 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. mike0404

    Dave, thank you for your comments. I am a 68 year old, white male, college graduate, who started his own company 40 years ago. Even though I am a lifelong Republican, I also did not vote for Romney for the same reasons you stated. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like the GOP leadership got the message.

    November 28, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. WhereIsPalin

    The GOP has been hijacked by extremists, and are totally out of touch with the vast majority of Americans.

    November 28, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. OldRetiredGuy

    If corporations are "people", shouldn't they be taxed as such? Revenue would go 'way up. Though, I think this might upset the Teapublicans.

    November 28, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. Papa

    I am a white male over 40 who voted for Obama. I agree with the Republican party on some issues but when it comes to the social issues I disagree with the Republicans on virtually ALL of them. The religious mullahs that the Republicans have appointed to the Supreme Court; Scalia, Alito, and Thomas; scare me more than another Great Depression does. The Republicans chant about freedom, liberty, and small government but have the hypocrisy of wanting the government involved in personal choices ESPECIALLY ones involving personal sex lives and choices. Autopsy over; lose the fetish with gays and abortion and you will attract more voters. Otherwise you will be calling for another autopsy in 2016.

    November 28, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. Ronin

    Priebus, we need to do an autopsy on your leadership.
    The patient has died Rince!

    November 28, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. Julie

    People like Dave are a big reason they Republicans lost. They lost some of their base, not only the so-called "minorities". I know many rich, white, males, lifetime republicans – their base -who this round couldn't stand the hatred of their party (toward gays and women) and voted for Obama. They need to realize that they need to become more progressive with their social policies because like it or not people pay attention to this in the elections.

    November 28, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. Mickey

    As a republican, who did not vote for Romney, I think the RNC is making a HUGE mistake believing that they presented the right kind of candidate. I found Romney to be totally unacceptable – and on the issues that they beat the war-drum for (pro-life, sanctity of marriage, and religious freedoms) he was so marginal that I dismissed those three aspects of the platform as totally irrelevant this election. As for foreign policy, Obama bested him hand's down – in fact my wife looked at me during the final debate and asked, "Is Romney bucking for a cabinet position in the Obama administration? I've never seen a presidential candidate be so supportive of an opponents positions!".

    The RNC made a huge mistake in Romney. True social conservatives saw him as a flip-flopping liberal-turned conservative, with no idea what he would do as a sitting president. The evangelicals saw him as a non-Christian, believing an impossible history of the US, that included Native Americans being Apostate Christians... just weird. The 2nd Ammendment crowd saw him as a one-time foe of gun owners, having supported extensive gun bans – currently MA has the stiffest gun control laws in the US.

    So what exactly was Romney? Big money! Romney was all about money, and will always be all about money. We ran the richest presidential candidate in american history – only surpassed by Forbes, who ran as an independent. And that's what was wrong with this election. We ran a Big Money guy against a Big People guy. Guess who will win every time?

    In order to win the RNC will need to seal the vote with the whole party, and not just tell us that if we don't vote for their guy, we've just voted for the other guy. They assumed that fear and prejudice would drive us to vote against Obama, despite our misgivings about our candidate, and they were wrong. They also assumed that by pandering to the left and middle they would win votes from Obama – who despite the characterization by right media, is actually already a moderate in the eyes of the majority of Americans. In retrospect it's easy to see that they counted more on the pandering than they ever did on sealing the vote with the entire GOP.

    And if they refuse to acknowledge this, they will lose again in 2013.

    November 28, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. ALittleBird

    The republicans keep talking about a "bigger tent" all the while making the tent smaller. Chris Christie was a moderate republican, but got pushed right out of the party. Also, the American people want politicians in both parties to work together. The republicans seem to take pride in NOT working with their Democratic counterparts and go bananas if one of their own says something nice about the other party. Witness the hysteria after Chris Christie made it clear that he appreciated Obama's efforts to help the recovery from Sandy go as smoothly as possible.
    Saying you want a bigger tent is one thing, but actually believing and doing it are another. Words don't bring in new segments of the electorate, policies do. If the republicans don't change their attitude, they will continue to lose ground.

    November 28, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. RalphS


    I am in the same boat as you except about 10 years older, and I think your post is spot on. I am a moderate Democrat but easily would have voted for a moderate Republican that had a real plan. I honestly hope the GOP reinvents itself. I believe they first need to create separation from the Tea Party. They have really tarnished the Republican brand and exposed themselves for what they really are. Secondly, they need to develop a sound plan of action that is more than just a wielding ax. They need to compromise (as does the President).

    November 28, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. DDW

    Romney sucked as a candidate and Ryan was a terrible choice. Romney didn't know what he actually stood for or at the very least didn't know how to articulate his responses. Ryan was at the extreme end of the spectrum. Huntsman is a moderate that could have very easily won the election but the Tea Party thugs got rid of him. If the GOP doesn't return to the middle, they are doomed to continue failing.

    November 28, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. Jack

    Autopsy is right. That sucker is dead. It had stake thru it's heart. And they still don't get it. You tell immigrants they aren't welcome here; you tell women you want vaginal probes; you tell the middle-class you'd vote against any cut to the rich, even if the Dems agreed to $1 in tax increase to the wealthy for $10 in entitlement cuts; letting Donald Trump, Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News speak for the Republcan party (you had a bunch of old white men talking to a bunch of old white men about old white men issues); you have candidates saying a college education is over-rated, etc etc.

    If we go over this fiscal cliff it is because the Republicans drive us over. Obama said don't play his bluff a year ago and they, the Republicans voted in this fiscal cliff. They were so sure they would win the election and not have to compromise and get their way. Well–it's time to compromise and the compromise is bigger for the Republicans because they had the hubris to get us here.

    November 28, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. jk in MN

    The GOP says it's for limited government on one hand and passes government intrusion into women's health issues, abortion and making it harder for Americans to vote on the other. Your autospy should simply state Terminal Hypcrisy, starting with the current GOP Chairman.

    November 28, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  13. buzz

    Cremation would be in order, at least closed casket.

    November 28, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. Anthony

    I am a registered democrat that use to be a republican. i didnt leave the GOP, the GOP left me. I dont mind the Fiscal Conservativeness, that does not scare me. what does scare me is the backwaterness that has drowned the GOP since POTUS 43. they are stoping the progess of scientific discovery with their stem cell ban. they are trying to go back in time to pre-Roe v Wade, your entire Economic Policy cannot be Tax cuts to every fricking problem ( Obama put it best "have a cold? take two tax cuts and role back a few regulations and call me in the morning"), you also cannot fight two wars (unfunded) and give tax cuts out like its candy on halloween (BUSH 43). during your Primaries, your party members that you have catered too have booed a soldier that has put his life on the line for his country for simply being a gay service member. your Base cheered the death of a man that had no health insurance. Your base wants to deliberately have discrimination written into our constitution ( i guess it is only land of the free if you are straight white male rich and religious, everyone else sorry but deal with your mistreatment). YOur Obstructionism during the Obama's frist term was historical, i think this is the frist time in history that a governing party put Party First and Country Second, during the debt ceiling debat, as well as other key issues that had to be continously kicked down the calendar because of your insain obstructionist ways ( you held the country hostage, and now we are at the edge of world about to take a blind leap). You allow a people who are not elected to course your parties direction (ie Norquist, Limbaugh, and Coulter) Also please stop using Religion as a litmus test for you party. it is scaring the large number of secular people in this country who hold firm to the Found fathers belief of separation of church and state. and for some reason how come so many people in your party tell the people that "God" talks to them and told them this. Really!!! do you know how insane this makes you look. that is like saying the dog told me to do it! Wake up Your party is 40 years out of date. you need to change your demographics because there no more a majority in white male america. WELCOME to the NEW FACE OF AMERICA, it comes in many different tones of color.

    November 28, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  15. Former GOP

    One area they might want to start is by seperating themselves from the evang elicals. Redefine conservative along the lines of our Consti tution and not bibical. I am an atheist and used to be a Republican. Rediscover the idea of less governement acorss the board...meaning less in people's personal lives. Get back to working for The People, not god or gods. You think some of us like voting democr ap???? You want to see the danger of the christ ards imposing their god...look no further than the middle east to see where religo n uts take you. Christ ards have zero respect for our Const itu tion...they only care about the word of their god and god laws. WAKE UP GOP

    November 28, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  16. Former GOP

    One area they might want to start is by seperating themselve from the evang elicals. Redefine conservative along the lines of our Consti tution and not bibical. Get back to working for The People, not god or gods. WAKE UP GOP

    November 28, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  17. numbnut

    I think government cuts should start with politician's salaries, including pensions and healthcare.

    November 28, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  18. Rick in AZ

    Really Reince? It's like the cops finding a body with 15 gun shot wounds and then asking the coroner to find out if the guy hanged himself.

    November 28, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. Sam Harris

    Don't they weigh the brain during an autopsy? And who told Mr. Priebus anyone had to consult him on the president's plans?

    November 28, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  20. Upton

    Well when many different counties had upwards of 140+% voter turnout... I think the election process should be looked into. There is more fraud then we know and no matter what side had the fraud, it must stop.

    Also, notice the first sentence where he admits that the Republicans lost. He isn't saying that it shouldn't count, just that the election process should be investigated. No matter how little or how much fraud there is it should be stopped.

    November 28, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Bill from GA

    If priebus wants an autopsy, he must be admitting that they are DEAD.

    Just bury them, they stink already. Especially mcconnell.

    November 28, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. mike

    Step one. Get rid of Reince Priebus.

    November 28, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  23. TheMovieFan

    I believe the proper term would be necropsy.

    November 28, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Bill from GA

    Priebus: "What we can conclude is that we've got to be better"

    Does that mean better at selling Americans what the republicans have, or better at giving Americans what Americans want?

    November 28, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Treadstone

    There aren't enough white Christian dudes in the country to carry the party anymore.

    November 28, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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