Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt” airing this weekend that he expects presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney will get a “real” and a “visible” bump in the polls at the party’s national convention next week in Tampa.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: We begin the program with the man who’s putting on the Tampa convention, RNC Chair Reince Priebus. Mr. Chairman, thank you for being with us.
REINCE PRIEBUS: It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for being here.
HUNT: The latest reports on the hurricane threat are encouraging, but if it should change, are you prepared to compress this to a three-day convention?
PRIEBUS: We’re prepared for anything. We can do whatever we need to do to make sure that, number one, people at safe, but also that we conduct the business of the convention, which is what we’re here to do. We have the ability under the rules of the RNC to put forward contingency plans immediately. We’ve set the table -
HUNT: So if anything happens, you can do that.
PRIEBUS: So we can be nimble -
PRIEBUS: - and we will be. But right now, as you say, it looks very good on the track. We’re concerned about where the hurricane might end up, but in the end we’re moving forward with this convention. And we’re excited about it.
HUNT: You weren’t happy with Vice President Biden’s decision to come down here on Monday and Tuesday. You said, hey, fair play. We can do the same. What plans do you have for his appearances down here, or what plans do you have for Charlotte?
PRIEBUS: Well first of all, Al, I really don’t mind. I think he’s our best surrogate. People think we’ve got - or Vice President Biden on the payroll. The more he talks, the better off we are. So he’s got - my message to the vice president is any pass you need, wherever it is that you need to make your stay worthwhile here, we’ll help you out.
HUNT: You’ll help him out.
PRIEBUS: But we’ll have a presence in Charlotte. And the nice thing is whatever they can do, we can - we can return serve 10 times over.
HUNT: We’ll get to Mitt Romney in a minute, but let me ask one Todd Akin question. Everybody, including you, tried to push him out to no avail. Do you still think he’s going to stay in the race to November? Do you think he’s likely to get out in September?
PRIEBUS: Who knows? I think he should get out.
HUNT: I know.
PRIEBUS: And the reason I think he should get out is that I’m a big believer in - 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: - damage yourself so terribly.
HUNT: You’ve delivered that message. Do you think he - do you think it’s probable that he’ll eventually get out?
PRIEBUS: Al, I’m - I don’t know.
HUNT: You don’t know.
PRIEBUS: I just don’t know. I think he should. I’m hoping that he can read a few polls and realize where he sits.
HUNT: Does that whole issue hurt you in the larger sense of any problem with women? Wall Street Journal/NBC, this poll said - this week - and the poll said who’s better on women’s issues of concern to women, Obama 52, Romney 24.
PRIEBUS: I don’t think so. I think that women are concerned about the position of where our American economy is at. I think women are moved by the fact that the president made promises in regards to the jobs and spending. It didn’t come to fruition. So we know that our party is the party of a better future, the American dream. And these are things that my mom and my sister care about deeply.
HUNT: Well the same issue I suppose would apply to Latinos. Telemundo poll, Romney up - or Romney behind 63-28. That looks like a reprise of 2008 when it comes to the Hispanic vote.
PRIEBUS: Well here’s the thing. Our party’s actually done very well with Hispanic candidates. We’ve done a lousy job talking about it. Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez, Brian Sandoval, Luis Fortuno in Puerto Rico. We’re employing - and what our party does is we put together this ground operation that’s second to none. We’re going to have a ground operation in places like Hialeah and Kissimmee and Las Vegas and Denver geared totally to Hispanic -
HUNT: And where do you think you’ll win?
PRIEBUS: I can’t give you a number, but I think we’re going to do a lot better than what these polls show. I think we’re going to do better than where we were in ’08.
HUNT: And better than McCain?
PRIEBUS: Yeah. Think about -
HUNT: Could you do as well as George W. Bush did?
PRIEBUS: I think we can get close. But if you think about this, at least give me this. Our top-line message when it comes to the economy, when it comes to debt, the jobs, what’s driving the electorate, we’re in a much better place in 2012 than we were in 2008. We can at least agree on that. So we’re going to do better. The question is that we have to communicate our message. We have to be disciplined with our mouth. And we have to explain to Hispanic voters that this president promised to carpet (ph) the world. He was going to deliver all of these things and he delivered nothing.
HUNT: Same thing with the issue of Medicare. Is it hurting? The Quinnipiac poll said that voters in Florida, Ohio, your state of Wisconsin, they don’t like the premium voucher idea at all. By Robin Meszoly
PRIEBUS: But Al, when you take that poll, just yesterday there were two polls that showed in Ohio and Florida that when asked who do you - seniors - who do you trust to handle the problems that are facing Medicare, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, they lost. It was Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan they want it to be.
HUNT: You can at least neutralize the Medicare -
PRIEBUS: We’re ahead by 24 percent with seniors in Florida today. So we not only have to neutralize it, but here’s the thing, if you don’t mind. There’s something that Republicans and Democrats can agree on. If we don’t do anything about Medicare, it’s going to go broke, OK? So what are we going to do about it? What we’ve said is we’ve got a plan that every member of Congress uses that will only apply to people who are 54 and younger. If you’re 55 and older, you don’t have to listen to anything about this guaranteed affordability plan. If you’re 54 or younger, the question is what are we going to do to ensure the long-term health of Medicare? That’s a good debate to have.
HUNT: And so therefore you don’t think that that’s distracting from the jobs and the economy issue that really was going to be the linchpin of your campaign?
PRIEBUS: That is still the linchpin. We’re still going to prosecute the president.
HUNT: So when you talk about Todd Akin and talk about Medicare -
PRIEBUS: Well you asked me about it.
HUNT: I did, I know, but -
PRIEBUS: If you want, I’ll just ignore your questions and I’ll just talk about jobs and the debt and the deficit. I can do that. I’m trying to be responsive. And I’ll tell you, the number-one issue is the president failed the mission when it comes to jobs, the debt and spending and this economy. And - and a piece of that has to be also a concern in this country that Medicare’s going broke. And this president is assisting in the bankruptcy of Medicare.
HUNT: So that’ll stay front and center.
HUNT: Let me - one platform - or one or two platform questions. Romney doesn’t agree with all the platform. There’s a slight difference in abortion, for instance. The platform also calls for stripping the independence of the Federal Reserve and returning to the gold standard. Is that just a salvo to Ron Paul or is that Governor Romney’s position?
PRIEBUS: Well, this is the position of the party. When I was chairman in Wisconsin, we had a pretty similar platform in our own state party. That was years ago. I think that there is a desire among Americans, and I think even most Americans, that 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.
HUNT: The gold standard?
PRIEBUS: I don’t know. This is something that I think, transparency, the Fed printing money, I think it’s an issue that’s bubbling up in this country, and in particular in our party. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I certainly don’t think it’s a losing issue. I think accountability’s a good thing.
HUNT: For 10 years Americans were preoccupied with getting rid of Osama bin Laden who killed so many of our fellow citizens. We bagged him. We got rid of him. Why does the party platform not mention him this year?
PRIEBUS: Because I think that it’s a mission accomplished. 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.
HUNT: So, it’s not an issue for the platform?
HUNT: Final question - in the sample of most recent polls, I think if you look at them, you’d say Obama is ahead by a little bit, maybe a field goal. At this convention, what do you hope to accomplish.
PRIEBUS: My polls show that we’re ahead by a field goal.
HUNT: Well, I’m looking at the Wall Street Journal -
HUNT: Let’s just assume that for a minute - at the end of this convention, where do you hope to be? How much of a bump can Mitt Romney get?
PRIEBUS: You know, it is hard to tell on bumps because nowadays as you know, you are a veteran, it used to be that the news cycle - you could move mountains in a week. But nowadays the news cycle is two or three times a day.
I think we are going to get a bump; I think we have a better opportunity for the bump as a party, as a challenging party, so that when people get to know Mitt Romney and get to know who he is and the decent man he is and his story of the American Dream and his generosity, as people get to know Mitt Romney, we have a higher propensity for a quicker ascent than Barack Obama.
HUNT: Just give me a scope of the -
PRIEBUS: I can’t give you a scope, but I can tell you I think it’s going to be real and it’s going to be visible, but I don’t know what it will end of being.
HUNT: Mr. Chairman, we’re all looking forward to Tampa next week. Thank you very much for being with us.
PRIEBUS: This went by fast - happy to do it.
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