January 25th, 2013
05:34 PM ET
10 years ago

Priebus: GOP about 'addition and multiplication not division and subtraction'

(CNN) - Reince Priebus, just re-elected to a second term as chairman of the Republican National Committee, was among the Republicans clapping at their Winter Meeting Thursday night as Gov. Bobby Jindal lambasted his party for being "stupid" and "insulting the intelligence of voters."

Priebus said in an interview scheduled to air Friday in the 6 p.m. ET hour of CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" that he embraced the tough talk and sees "eye to eye" with Jindal.

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"We're right on the economics but I think its time to inspire with a smile, talk to every American no matter what state you're in and start building a party through the concept of addition and multiplication not division and subtraction," Priebus said.

Jindal's passionate calls for the party to "reject identity politics" and approach elections as the party of "growth" rather than "austerity" drew attention for their bluntness.

"We must reject the notion that demography is destiny, the pathetic and simplistic notion that skin pigmentation dictates voter behavior," he said. "We must treat all people as individuals rather than as members of special interest groups. The first step in getting the voters to like you is to demonstrate that you like them.

He is chairman of the Republican Governor's Association and considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

After an election which saw Democrats hold the White House, expand their lead in the Senate, and peck at Republicans' hold on the House, Priebus convened a panel to develop a political strategy for the Republican Party's future, particularly in the area of minority outreach. That group is expected to report back in March.

In the meantime, Priebus has been frank about what the GOP needs to do, and hasn't been shy about acknowledging past shortcomings, including the party's heavy losses last year among several minority demographics and voters who are women.

"If you look at how we're doing with Hispanics and African Americans, it wasn't good in November," he said in the CNN interview, "but you know what you've got to ask for the order in order to make the sale."

Controversial comments, including those on rape from U.S. Senate candidates Richard Mourdock and Rep. Todd Akin, do not represent the Republican view, Priebus said.

"Some of these things happen and you can't carpet the world as much as you try to," he said. "You want everything to be perfectly done and you want candidates to have comments coming out of their mouths that don't embarrass the party, but in those particular cases I think those are one-offs and I think people understand that's not our party."

He pitched the idea of ending a "red-state, blue-state" analysis – the lingo of political analysts who look at electorate leanings and likely electoral outcomes – and said the party "can compete in every state across America."

That would require resources, and Priebus has demonstrated himself capable in the area of fundraising. He paid down the party's $24 million debt following the 2010 midterm election, pumped money into races in the 2012 cycle, and ended last year with $3 million on hand.

His strategy also requires ongoing commitment.

"You can't just do it in nine months before a presidential campaign," he said. "We've got to start now and you build by having a consistent ongoing presence and relationship in communities across America."

- CNN Political Director Mark Preston contributed to this report

Filed under: Reince Priebus
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. RandyKC

    Nice to know the Republican party has decided to work on it's cipherin'.

    January 25, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  2. Strategic Bob

    take the vowels out of his name and Reince Priebus becomes RNC PR BS. that tells you everything you need to know about this tool.

    January 25, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  3. Mike

    The re-election of this clown confirms it.
    What Jindel says is true. The GOP is the stupid party.

    January 25, 2013 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  4. Quixote

    If we we following repub economic advice we would look like Britain. Still stuck in recession and with double digit unemployment. Rpubs have been wrong about economics since he 1920s.

    Prince reemus is right about addition and multiplication...they wish to add rules to multiply the impact of their minority status as a party. The plan to cheat the voters out of the president we elect is disgraceful, even for republicons. And that is hard to do.

    January 26, 2013 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  5. Dave

    Continuing to lose the popular vote and the GOP is talking about addition? WEIRD MATH, Reince.

    January 26, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  6. Marie MD

    "make the sale"? Then what. Return all you have barfed during a campaign and the real right wing zealot monster comes out? No thanks. Even mr.mardi gras from LA talk is all horse po op. Where was he in the last four years? Hospice care anyone in LA? Not under his watch.
    These rethugs will NEVER change. Like the real communists they are they are against human rights for everyone.
    The party of No BIG government wants to control our,lives in every which way. Check out the new Michigan rethug governor running on I am not going there and the first thing he signed was for it!

    January 26, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  7. Steve Smith

    The guy looses an election big and gets put back in charge, while Michael Steele get fired after the big GOP 2010 pick-up? So you fire the black winner and keep the white looser and you wonder why minoirities don't trust you?

    January 26, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  8. J'Cincinnati'redd

    The GOP, has simply lost its way. to many years of talking down to people. I mean just 9months ago they were screeming at latinos to "get out". Obama,won 72% of that group. but now you want us to belive that if u just make them all legal,then they will all run to the republican party? so this whole time latinos have been nothing more then a spanish speaking tea party group looking for a green card? what a joke get real!

    January 26, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
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