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. Sniffit

    ""We must reject the notion that demography is destiny, the pathetic and simplistic notion that skin pigmentation dictates voter behavior," he said. "

    "In the meantime," he continued, "we need to make sure the population explosion of minorities taht's quickly overtaking GOP/Teatroll relevance and influence, is sufficiently brought under control by manipulating their voting rights and the country's electoral systems."

    January 25, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "He pitched the idea of ending a "red-state, blue-state" analysis"

    Of course he did...that will no doubt be a core and oft-repeated talking point used to justify their atetmpts to split the electoral votes in GOP-controlled states that habitually vote for Dems as POTUS.

    January 25, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "I think people understand that's not our party."

    [insert gameshow incorrect answer buzzer]. Wrong. Most people recognize that the crap spewed by the likes of Akin and Murdock represents what yuo really think and that just went off the reservation for a few minutes, forgetting they were supopsed to hide it because they know it's not popular.

    January 25, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    Changing the salesperson and sales pitch won't make the Republican message more meaningful when the product is snake oil.

    January 25, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  5. MaryM

    GOP, its not your packaging, Its your product. The Majority of Americans are NOT buying your product. Change the GOP product or go the way of the dinosaurs

    January 25, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  6. Borderless

    The GOP has a lot of ground to make up and a lot of damage control to do. I think this Republican epiphany demonstrates at least a decent start. Contrasting themselves to the Democratic party which has lost it's liberal roots and is now focusing on division and hate to achieve their goals is something I think will be helpful to the GOP. I hope the Democrats and their followers rein in the hate soon. If they don't they may miss some golden opportunities to bring about some very positive changes.

    January 25, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  7. Borderless

    Obama has had the most corrupt administration in US history. The fact that the GOP allowed him to get re-elected shows that they must make some fundamental changes. Thanks to the blind allegiance of so many Democratic sheep, the GOP will likely see a resurgence in 2014 and a new president in 2016. I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing, but a rabid squirrel would be better than the current president.

    January 25, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  8. 2012liberal

    *can't win fairly, cheat

    January 25, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  9. midnite62

    The GOP's policies are what's killing them and demographics as well. They know the public is against what they're trying to sell so they have to rig the elections and try to decimate voting rights in order to win. The MSM should be reporting that fact honestly instead of trying to put a nice face on the GOP's deception and undemocratic ways.

    January 25, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  10. Thomas

    Karl Rove is the smartest being in the GOP , next is Reince Priebus ?

    January 25, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  11. midnite62

    Republicans can't win on policy because the majority of the voting public doesn't like their policies. Demographics are not in the GOP's favor so now they're devising ways to still win elections even when no one wants them. The MSM should be reporting on the Republicans deceptive and completely undemocratic schemes to maintain power and have an unfair advantage in elections. Don't put a nice face on this.

    January 25, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "GOP about 'addition and multiplication not division and subtraction'"

    ....except when we're dividing up districts and subtracting from the power of the popular vote to determine elections....

    January 25, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  13. realitybite

    How about learning some Math first? A person who knows math wouldn't accusing Obama for being a high spender when he is the only president in decades to reduce spending.

    January 25, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  14. Alexis S. J.

    This guy is talking like a grade-school politician.

    January 25, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  15. plain&simple

    The say one thing while doing the opposite republicans....and they insult all of us by thinking we are to stupid to understand this! Different day same stupid agenda!!!

    January 25, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  16. vic , nashville ,tn

    Under RNC chairman Reince Priebus GOP lost the white house , net lost in the house and senate , republicans elected him again WOW

    January 25, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  17. nothing new here


    "I think people understand that's not our party."

    [insert gameshow incorrect answer buzzer]. Wrong. Most people recognize that the crap spewed by the likes of Akin and Murdock represents what yuo really think and that just went off the reservation for a few minutes, forgetting they were supopsed to hide it because they know it's not popular.

    January 25, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  18. nothing new here

    Blah, blah...nice try. GOP.
    I'll stay an Independent/Libertarian.

    January 25, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  19. yogi

    May be the GOP should replace the elephant with a pig, with lipstick. The GOP will never change, and they can only win with their dubious practices of stealing votes in whatever way they can. Republicans are disgusting.

    January 25, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  20. Ancient Texan

    Permiting the party elite to select the candidate and using all kind of shenanigans to make sure the people's choice is ridiculed and demeaned in favor of the elite's choice doesn't work. Examples; Dole, McCain, Romney.

    January 25, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  21. Jim Knope

    There are three issues that seem to be particularly important to the GOP: Economic conservatism, immegration, and social issues (banning abortion / limiting gay rights). They can pick just about any one of those and be fairly successful. Any combination of two or more and they are a dead party. There are a number of us that are fiscally conservative but cannot support the party on social issues. Hispanics would likely support them on the social issues but would not on immigration, etc.
    The House will continue to be Republican for some time because of gerry mandering of districts. The senate and presidency will stay in democratic control for the next couple of cycles. This will cause the Supreme Court to move to the left as conservative members die off.

    January 25, 2013 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  22. ted

    This guy and Michael Steele and you might as well add Limbaugh and Rove have conspired to ANNIHILATE the GOP, John Boehner. NOT Obama.

    January 25, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  23. DENNA

    Wow. The GOP is really taking this diversity seriously. Nothing like the cold, hard slap of the hand of reality to wake these fools up.

    January 25, 2013 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  24. Larry L

    Republicans are thinking about marketing changes rather than changing the very core of their bigoted, narrow-minded, old-white-guy perspective. Nobody will be fooled.

    January 25, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  25. Tony

    The GOP is now trying to divide electoral votes in states that went to Obama in the last two elections, including Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Wisconsin. When Republicans say that they are not about division and subtraction, you know that the opposite is true.

    January 25, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
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