Republican Priebus Says Gender Battle Is Fictional (Transcript)
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend that Democrats and the media have created a phony conflict with the role of gender in U.S. elections.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: We begin to show with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for joining us. The primary was held in your state of Wisconsin last week. It’s obvious to almost everyone, Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee, but I noticed in Wisconsin, your home state, he’s trailing Barack Obama by 11 or 17 points in two polls. He’s got a real uphill challenge, doesn’t he?
REINCE PRIEBUS: I think it’s pretty early out. So first of all, you’ve got a couple things there. No. 1, the primary in Wisconsin was a big night. I agree with you for Governor Romney. Now obviously I have to be neutral but I don’t have to avoid the facts. It was a good night for Mitt Romney. There’s just no question.
HUNT: Why is he behind by 11 in one poll and 17 in the other?
PRIEBUS: Well, let me get to that point right now. I think some of that polling was prior to the election on Tuesday. I would imagine now that if you did a poll this week and over the weekend you’re going to see those numbers close. My only point is, is that head-to-head is very early to be comparing in these kinds of states, and I think especially in Wisconsin; I think people are focused in on Governor Walker and that situation.
I’m confident that it will be a very, very close election in Wisconsin and I think if the Democrats overplayed their hand as they’ve done in this recall election I actually think the Republican nominee can win Wisconsin in November.
HUNT: Mr. Chairman, a huge issue in November is going to be the Supreme Court’s decision on health care. After hearing the arguments, are you persuaded the court’s going to rule one way or another and what will the political ramifications be?
PRIEBUS: I certainly agree with most people in that the mandate seems to be in real big trouble. I think it’s a matter of our Constitution, separation of power, the 10th Amendment, James Madison; everything foundational to America. I think it will get struck down and I think it will be good for a country that get struck down but I also think then -
HUNT: Was it appropriate for President Obama to comment on why the courts would be engaged in judicial activism it if it overturned the law?
PRIEBUS: I don’t get that at all as a 13-, 14-year lawyer. If anything, what we have is a court that is looking at the separation of powers and the 10th Amendment. It’s the most fundamental issue in our country as far as federalism -
HUNT: Do think it was inappropriate for the president say that?
PRIEBUS: I don’t know if it’s appropriate, I just think it’s foolish. It sort of disingenuous and foolish as a lawyer and a former law professor. So for fundamentally unsound. I think it makes him look foolish as a lawyer, to tell you the truth.
HUNT: Tell me, size up the role that money is going to play in this year’s election and which side has the advantage.
PRIEBUS: I don’t know if we are going to be able to raise as much as Barack Obama since he’s in love with raising money, but we are not going to have any money problems on the Republican side of the aisle. In fact, right now we have more money than the Democratic National Committee right now and I think that once we get our nominee where we will be off to the races, and I don’t believe that at the end of the day the president is going to have much of an advantage over us.
So this isn’t going to come down to a lack of money; you’re going to have $1 billion on one side and you’re going to have somewhere near that on the other side.
HUNT: Your side might have an advantage with the outside groups, at least the Harold Simmons the Koch brothers and the like huge funding, and a lot of it going through Karl Rove. When was the last time you talked to Karl Rove?
PRIEBUS: Maybe a few weeks ago.
HUNT: Do you talk to him regularly?
PRIEBUS: I don’t know what that means, regularly, but every once in a while I see Karl and I think he’s doing great work and I think he’s done great work in our country and for our party so I think is a good resource.
HUNT: Those outside groups can make a big difference, don’t you think?
PRIEBUS: Well, I think both sides have those outside groups, but I think fundamentally what’s most important now, and I think this is true. This thing is not going to be done on television and radio. I believe that door-to-door campaigning, voter-to-voter contacts is the only way to truly win these races and it’s going to happen in the battleground states in this country and we are going to be ready to fight.
HUNT: Let me ask you this. The Democrats of course say you are waging, the GOP is waging a war on women. I know you don’t agree with that, but looking at the polls, you have a gender gap problem. Recent polls show a huge, huge margin for Democrats among women voters. How big a problem is it? How do you close it?
PRIEBUS: Well, for one thing, if the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars, and mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we have problems with caterpillars. The fact of the matter is it’s a fiction and this started a war against the Vatican that this president pursued. He still hasn’t answered Archbishop Dolan’s issues with Obama world and Obamacare, so I think that’s the first issue.
How to we combat it? We make the case to women and everyone in this country, no matter what your background, that No. 1, this president hasn’t fulfilled his promises. No. 2, we can do better in this country in regard to jobs and the economy. People need to be having better jobs. They need to make more money. They need to be more prosperous and it’s the Republican Party that wants to help everybody, no matter where you are, whatever income bracket, we believe that jobs should be better, people should be doing better and choices should be more. That’s what our case is going to be and hope women in this country are going to accept that.
HUNT: How about the Latino vote? Recent polls have showed that Obama is beating Romney 5 to 1 among Latinos. That’s a huge problem. How big of a Latino vote do you think you can get in November?
PRIEBUS: I think we can get up to 40 percent or better. I think if you look at where we are at as far as top-line messaging when it comes to jobs and the economy we do much, much, much better in the Latino communities in 2012 and then we did in 2008. I think that’s easily acceptable, but secondly we’ve got better messengers like Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez, Brian Sandoval, and Luis Fortuno in Puerto Rico was the governor there that will be very helpful to us in Florida. So I think we’re doing much better with messengers, but ultimately where we need to go out, what my job is and what our job at the RNC is, is to take our message into Hispanic and Latino communities.
That I think is where we need to go, and obviously that’s the direction we’re heading. You’re seeing some of the hiring that were doing around the country and fulfilling that mission.
HUNT: Mr. Chairman, party chairmen are always optimistic and I’m sure you are now, but give me your forecast for a big surprise when upset we may see this fall.
PRIEBUS: For one thing, and it’s not going to be much of a surprise, but Barack Obama is going to lose. I do think we are going to win the Senate and I think we are going to do it not just in places like Virginia and Florida and Ohio but I think we are going to win in Wisconsin and I think you look at Linda Lingle out in Hawaii; although she’s not getting a lot of press out in the mainstream media, I think she’s a senator that wins out in Hawaii. So I think we have so many opportunities in the Senate, Al, that I think that a lot of them are going to come in and we will win the majority of the Senate.
HUNT: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much and a happy weekend to you.
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