After RNC Chairman Reince Priebus unveiled the Republican Party’s Growth and Opportunity Project last month, conservatives were hopeful this marked a fundamental change in the direction of the party. The 100-page document’s emphasis on engaging the grassroots and broadening party appeal seemed to indicate GOP leaders were looking to make amends with their base. Less than a month later however, the RNC renounced these claims and once again revealed the greatest hindrance to the GOP’s success: the party itself.
Many Republicans were aghast to witness the blatant political theater that took place last year during the Republican National Convention. Not only were controversial rules changes ushered in by Romney supporters and the establishment but video was released shortly thereafter revealing that the votes were rigged.
As an attempt to quell the growing animosity among grassroots conservatives, the RNC launched the Growth and Opportunity Project and offered to further discuss the rules changes at the RNC’s Spring Meeting.
Initially, it was believed the RNC was sincere in their efforts to overturn the recent powergrabs that rendered delegates nothing more than pawns being used in a chess match that had long been decided without them. As FreedomWorks New Media Director Kristina Ribali noted however, this was hardly the case:
Yesterday, United Liberty Editor Jason Pye did a write-up on Reince Priebus and his recent attempts to reach out to the Ron Paul Republicans/Liberty wing of the GOP. This action has naturally been met with much skepticism from the Freedom forces of the GOP. As a member of that group, I just wanted to expound on a few things:
First off, with all due respect, for those thinking that Priebus did this solely because he was concerned about keeping his position, that just isn’t the case. No one, and I really mean no one (including potential challenger Mark Willis), had any real hope that Priebus would be unseated. Of the 168 members of the RNC, there might have been upwards of two dozen or so that could be counted on to vote against Priebus. However, Mark Willis, the Liberty GOPer from Maine, wasn’t able to get the majority vote of the 3 different state RNC memberships to even be placed on the ballot.
Secondly, Priebus has been reaching out to the Ron Paul/Liberty people before, during, and after this most recent RNC meeting. The writing is on the wall - the Liberty forces have the momentum. And even though they’ve been the ones most involved in the degradation of the GOP for the last decade, the establishment GOP is now exhibiting what might be the strongest and most intense of human instincts - self-preservation. It’s also just common sense, as evidenced by this recent quote from long-serving, social conservative RNC Iowa Committeeman, Steve Scheffler:
“If you don’t start including new people, you’re going to die on the vine…the old guard needs to be inclusive.”
The Republican National Committee released its long-awaited “autopsy” of the 2012 election, which is supposed to help the GOP determine a way forward in future elections. Let’s just say that the report is disappointing if you view the grassroots as an important part of the process:
The GOP’s prescription to cure the ills that helped bring on yet another disastrous presidential cycle would revamp its presidential nominating rules in ways to benefit well-funded candidates and hamper insurgents - a move that quickly heated up the already smoldering feud between the Republican establishment and the tea party-inspired base.
Tucked in near the end of the 97-page report, formally known as The Growth and Opportunity Project, are less than four pages that amount to a political bombshell: the five-member panel urges halving the number of presidential primary debates in 2016 from 2012, creating a regional primary cluster after the traditional early states and holding primaries rather than caucuses or conventions.
The recommendations are also a nod to the party’s donor class. Several donors bluntly told RNC Chair Reince Priebus at meetings right after the election that they wanted Iowa, with its more conservative base, to have less of a role in the process.
Last year at CPAC, it seemed as though there was a significant schism between conservatives and Ron Paul supporters/libertarians. However, 2013 was an entirely different story. Not only did several speakers praise Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who spoke at CPAC on Thursday, for his strong stand against President Barack Obama, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus honored the Kentucky Senator and called on the GOP to embrace the “liberty-minded Republicans,” a movement of young libertarians and fiscal conservatives who are gaining influence and prominence in movement.
David Keene, former Chairman of the American Conservative Union and current President of the National Rifle Association, was more pointed about the need for acceptance of Ron and Rand Paul supporters, noting that “[p]olitical movements and political parties have two options: they grow or they die.” Keene also slapped down Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) over his criticism Sen. Paul.
During last year’s Republican National Convention, the establishment powers that be successfully pushed a series of rule changes that discouraged grassroots conservatives and Ron Paul supporters.
But after an unsuccessful election cycle, there are some signs Republicans are beginning to see that they need stop alienating the freedom movement. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus explained in a recent interview that the GOP needs to reach out to libertarian-leaning voters:
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is courting the libertarian-leaning Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party, saying, “We would be fools not to welcome in the liberty movement in this party.”
In a video posted by the pro-Paul ConstitutionalWar.org on Sunday, Priebus was asked by an interviewer what his message is to Ron Paul supporters. The video appears to have been filmed during the committee’s winter meeting in Charlotte N.C. last week, when Priebus was re-elected Friday to another term as chairman.
“I want to reach out,” Priebus responded. “The fact of the matter is we’re not going to grow our party by closing doors.”
This news was music to the ears of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who is arguably the most libertarian member of Congress. In a statement, Sen. Paul expressed approval of the Priebus’ remarks.
With the presidential election finally over and analysts still guessing what went wrong for Mitt Romney, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, announced on Friday that he will seek a second term in that post:
Mr. Priebus, who took over the RNC in 2011, announced his intentions in an email to party leaders, a majority of whom have already pledged to support the chairman, according to a letter first reported by Politico.
The Wisconsin Republican’s track record at the RNC is mixed. On the one hand, Mr. Priebus took over the RNC when it was some $22 million in debt with a nearly empty bank account. As of Oct. 17, the party carried $9.9 million in debt and had $67.6 million to spend. On the other, Mitt Romney lost the presidential race and several GOP Senate candidates lost their races, too.
Mr. Priebus is not expected to face any serious opposition and no one else has announced a campaign for the post.
While Priebus doesn’t have a challenger, his role in shutting down grassroots activists at the Republican National Convention hasn’t been forgotten. The rule changes pushed through by establishment Republicans were intended to disenfranchise. While scrolling Twitter, I caught this from Richard Viguerie, a still influential figure in the conservative movement:
This weekend, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus complained that the media is taking Mitt Romney’s “birther” joke far too seriously, saying, “Nobody seems to have a sense of humor anymore.” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who will speak tonight at the Republican National Covention, also says that the joke isn’t a big deal.
Romney himself has said that the joke wasn’t intended to be a shot at President Barack Obama, but the defense is falling on deaf ears. Romney and Republicans have essentially asked for criticism over the issue any by associating themselves with Donald Trump, the billion real estate mogul who has championed this absurd conspriacy theory.
During a press conference on Sunday, Trump, who backs Romney and was supposed to have a role at the RNC before Tropical Storm Isaac altered the schedule, again pushed the birther issue:
Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Sarasota, Fla., Donald Trump said Mitt Romney’s birth certificate quip in Michigan last week may have been a lighthearted joke, but that the issue of President Obama’s birth certificate is far from settled.
Julianne Thompson, one of the founders of Georgia Tea Party Patriots and a convention delegate, has written an open letter to Republican National Committee on rule changes made that would allow the party’s presidential nominee to revoke delegates. You can read the letter in its entirety below:
Chairman Reince Preibus, members of the Rules Committee, and the entire voting delegation of the 2012 Republican National Convention:
As a National Delegate to the 2012 RNC, I am extremely disappointed that a rule would be passed throug committee that essentially strips the grassroots of all of it’s representative power by ridding State Parties of their ability to choose whom they will send as delegates and alternates to represent their State to the Republican National Convention. The rules change would allow the Presidential nominee sweeping new power to override that process and choose their own National Delegates. The rule also allows the RNC (with only a 3/4 vote) the power to amend the party’s rules without a vote by the full Republican National Convention.
The GOP is the political Party of the grassroots. Our national delegates are the boots-on-the-ground that get Republicans elected. We are there for County meetings, State Conventions, National Conventions, and most importantly we spend our time and money canvassing our neighborhoods, going door to door, making phone calls, writing personal endorsement letters, and getting-out-the-vote for Republicans. We are the worker bees, and we are the heart and soul of the Republican Party.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the latest GOP presidential candidate to decline an invitation to the controversial debate that will be hosted by Donald Trump, saying that “retail campaigning” in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses is his “top priority.”
“Gov. Perry has talked to Donald Trump in recent days and respects him and the folks at Newsmax very much,” said campaign manager Ray Sullivan in a statement. “In the coming weeks, Gov. Perry will be in Iowa almost continually, meeting with real voters, doing town-hall meetings and events and talking American jobs, faith and overhauling Washington, D.C., to Iowa voters.”
The campaign also pointed out that there are two debates in the next seven days.
Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney have already declined invitations. Michele Bachmann backed out yesterday. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has urged candidates not to attend, largely because Trump is still kicking around the idea of running in an independent or third party bid.
The Republican National Committee is reportedly looking at the possibility of selling the television rights, a sign that the RNC is truly embracing free market principles…for the time anyways. From the CNN report:
Washington (CNN) — The Republican National Committee is considering sanctioning the GOP presidential primary debates and then selling the broadcast rights to news outlets, two Republicans with knowledge of the idea tell CNN.
The proposal was mentioned last week during a meeting of top RNC officials and a handful of political operatives representing potential GOP presidential candidates.
In February, the RNC disclosed it was saddled with more than $22 million of debt left over from the 2010 midterm elections. At that time, newly elected Chairman Reince Priebus acknowledged the committee has “a lot of work to do” to pay off its obligations so it can focus on raising money for the 2012 presidential election.
It is unclear if it is legal for the RNC to sell the broadcasting rights or whether it would constitute a prohibited political contribution in the eyes of federal law.
Also unknown is whether news outlets would pay to exclusively air a presidential primary debate. CNN and several other news organizations have already announced plans to hold presidential primary debates in 2011 and 2012.
Read the full piece here.
Personally, I like the play. It shouldn’t count as anything illegal in the eyes of the government, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out.