Priebus Says Party Convention Will Give Romney Popularity Bump

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus listens to a question from Bloomberg News executive editor Al Hunt during an interview prior to the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus predicted that presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney will get a “real” and “visible” bump in the polls at the party’s national convention next week in Tampa.

“As people get to know Mitt Romney, we have a higher propensity for a quicker ascent than” President Barack Obama, Priebus said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt” airing this weekend ahead of the convention’s Aug. 27 start.

Priebus said past conventions produced bigger leads in the polls and “nowadays the news cycle is two or three times a day,” limiting those kinds of huge changes in public opinion.

Republicans are seeking momentum after a week of distractions, including Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin’s assertion that “legitimate rape” doesn’t often lead to pregnancies and the publication of hundreds of pages of investment and tax documents from Boston-based Bain Capital LLC, the private-equity firm Romney helped establish.

Romney also had to explain, in a CBS interview, that a comment he made at a Michigan rally yesterday about his birth certificate was a joke, not a swipe at Obama, after Democrats said he had aligned himself with the so-called birther movement that questions where the president was born.

Gold Standard

Priebus said he supports a plank in the Republican platform, drafted by a party committee in Tampa earlier this week, that calls for a study to determine whether to return the U.S. dollar to the gold standard. It also advocates an annual audit of the Federal Reserve Board and the 12 regional reserve banks, including monetary policy decisions.

“Doing an accounting of the Federal Reserve, finding out where the money’s coming and where it’s going is not a bad thing for our country,” Priebus said in the interview, outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum where the convention will be held.

The platform proposal, to be submitted for approval by the convention, calls for a commission to study “possible ways to set a fixed value for the dollar” similar to one in the early 1980s that studied “the feasibility of a metallic basis for U.S. currency.”

Priebus said, “It’s an issue that’s bubbling up in this country, and in particular in our party.”

Bin Laden

The chairman defended his party’s decision not to mention the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, killed in a May 2011 raid overseen by the president.

“It’s a mission accomplished,” Priebus said. “We’ve given credit to the president for his role in that mission and we applaud him for his role in that mission and I think we’re better off as an entire world without bin Laden in it.”

Priebus repeated his calls for Akin, a U.S. House member, to “get out” of the Missouri Senate race after his Aug. 19 remarks that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy. Akin has since apologized for the remark, which he made as he argued that abortion shouldn’t be allowed even in cases of rape. Akin has rejected calls for his exit from prominent Republicans including Romney.

Akin is running against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, whose seat is considered a central part of Republican strategy to take control of the Senate.

Someone Else

“People that really believe that the idea of liberty and freedom is on the ballot, people who are really believers in the cause, sometimes ought to kind of look in the mirror and realize that, you know what, sometimes you have to put yourself aside and give someone else an opportunity to win,” Priebus said.

Priebus said that while he doesn’t know whether Akin ultimately will step aside, he hopes he can “read a few polls and realize where he sits.”

He insisted that Akin’s remarks won’t hurt Romney with women voters because he said they still care most about the economy.

“We know that our party is the party of a better future, the American dream,” Priebus said. “And these are things that my mom and my sister care about deeply.”

On the Hispanic vote, Priebus said he expects Romney to get more than the 31 percent the party’s 2008 nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain, won. Romney may even “get close” to President George W. Bush’s 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, Priebus said.

Obama Favored

An NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Telemundo poll showed Hispanics favoring Obama over Romney 63 percent to 28 percent. The poll of 300 registered voters was conducted Aug. 16-20 and has a margin of error of 5.66 percent.

For Romney to win Hispanic voters, Republicans have to make clear that Obama hasn’t delivered on his promises, Priebus said.

“Our party’s actually done very well with Hispanic candidates,” he said, citing U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. “We’ve done a lousy job talking about it.”

Priebus said he is optimistic that Tropical Storm Isaac won’t interfere with the convention. While the storm, which may reach the southwest coast of Florida on the opening day of the convention, “looks very good on the track,” the RNC is “prepared for anything,” he said.

“We can do whatever we need to do to make sure that, number one, people are safe, but also that we conduct the business of the convention, which is what we’re here to do.”

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