Reince Priebus took to the podium at the National Press Club just moments ago and laid out a strategy to boost the Republican Party back into the seats in Washington, D.C. that included messaging, demographic partnerships, data and technology, and revamping the primary election cycle.
After a dismal turnout for Republicans in the November 2012 elections, conservatives across the nation have taken to either overthrowing or cleaning out the GOP. Now the GOP is scampering to rebuild.
The speakers at the three-day CPAC 2013 convention held in D.C. at the end of last week, spoke loud and clear they were tired of the “establishment” that has put a choke-hold on the conservative voice, the people’s voice.
Priebus spoke on the ‘Growth and Opportunity Report’ that highlighted some strategies needed to rebuild the party, “marking a fresh beginning” for the Republican Party.
Outlining what changes are needed, Priebus started out with messaging without concern for putting the party’s playbook out in the open. Stating that the Republican “priciples are sound and not rusty thoughts” he went on to say there needs to be a “road map to American renewal”, also stating that “the way we communicate our principles aren’t resonating wide enough.”
Dismissing the “stuffy old men” and the perception of the Republicans being the “party of the rich”, Priebus stressed the party is about “families that are strong and children that are well educated”.
The principles highlighted by Priebus were school choice, lower costs of healthcare, jobs, and focusing “on what helps families thrive.”
Continuing on the line of messaging, Priebus quoted Ronald Reagan’s statement referring to being more inclusive with “our 80% friend is not our 20% enemy” and that the Republican Party needs to “learn what works on a state level and apply it nationally” such as Steve Pearce did in New Mexico.
With regard to the messaging strategy Priebus says Republicans “must inspire our way forward” and “do a better job of connecting with people through our principles.” The RNC will be establishing “regular focus groups” throughout the nation with town hall meetings, sharing “polling results” with campaigns, reminding candidates that “it’s not just what you say but how you say it,” and inspiring the “spirit of optimism.”
Making the segue into where and how the messaging strategy should work, step two was called ‘demographic partners’.
Going back to debunking the Democratic strategy of calling Republicans the party of ‘grumpy, old, rich, white men’, Priebus didn’t mince words on how Republicans “need to make up ground” with women, youth, and minority voters citing there is an “urgency to connect with minority communities,” because “in the near future we’ll be a minority-majority country.”
With regard to demographics, Priebus laid out 10 steps:
1. establish senior level advisory counsels for Latino groups
2. establish swearing-in citizenship teams
3. talk regularly and openly with groups like the Urban League and others
4. work with state parties to build recruitment program for minority candidates
5. hire communication staff that promotes minorities
6. develop aggressive minority footprint on college campuses, particularly minority campuses
7. appoint youth liaison to work with young and Latino Republicans
8. go beyond traditional news media
9. work with state parties and sister committees that actively recruit women
10. work on visibility of GOP women
The 10-part strategy in demographics, Priebus says, requires an “overhaul in the campaign structure.”
A $10 million budget has been established to complete this overhaul as the RNC sees it. “Launching new national field program at local levels in minority areas,” will require hiring hundreds of individuals to help “engage all demographic groups,” including national political directors for Hispanic and Asia-pacific demographics “dedicated to minority, youth, and women.” Included in the budget is a strengthening of state parties, which is akin to the Herman Cain grassroots campaign that sparked the multi-level grassroots movement back in 2011 and which was later utilized by both the Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich presidential campaigns after Cain dropped his own presidential bid.
Data & Technology
The obvious method of integrating new sources of data, Priebus says the RNC will invest more resources and integrate data into “every single thing we do.”
Starting by hiring a new chief digital and technology officer, Priebus says the data and technology will be the “new center of gravity within the organization.”
Some methods of utilizing this new-to-Republican platform of outreach is creating an “open data platform using a common API” that will help with voter contact, offering “hack-a-thons” in several cities in the U.S., embarking on “data and digital roads to help state parties enhance their own operations”, updating and upgrading GOP.com to “better utilize social media”, and setting up an “RNC field office in San Francisco” to serve as a “hub for data and digital training.” Priebus expects the new Republican digital age to “revitalize” their approach for the 2014 and 2016 elections.
Given the major face-slap to the Republicans in the 2012 election-cycle, the RNC has devised a new strategy with regard to their primary season.
Stating that “debates are vital to the primary process,” Priebus says the RNC needs to create a system of earlier primaries and guidelines to a “more rational number of debates” and moving “quickly to primary dates.”
While some conservatives feel the longer primary season gives them a better opportunity to vet candidates, especially when there are many, the RNC has decided to move their Republican National Convention out of August and to an earlier date, still yet to be decided, making the “primary season shorter.”
Finalizing the New Strategy
Priebus made sure to point out that the overhaul of the RNC and the Republican Party as a whole will be an “unprecedented effort” and that the “lion share of the work falls on the RNC.”
Knowing that “raising money isn’t always the easiest task,” Priebus says the RNC is setting up donor councils.
Priebus says the RNC, by large part via their ‘Growth and Opportunity Project’, have “identified problems and are implementing solutions.”
When asked about Karl Rove and his personal strategy of dismissing certain types of ‘far-right radical’ candidates, Priebus responded with “as far as the RNC is concerned, we don’t pick winners and losers in the primaries. But it’s also not our prerogative to tell other people what they can and cannot do,” referring to the SuperPACs Rove has established and where those PACs spend their money.
As far a Spanish-speaking presidential candidate, Priebus says “it’s not necessary but certainly a bonus.”
With Ohio Senator Rob Portman changing his stance on gay-marriage after finding out his son is gay, Priebus did not hesitate to say the RNC will continue to support Portman.
Summing up the conference, Priebus is quoted as saying the “[Republican] party is not fragmented.” That there is always room for “common, healthy debate and conversation.”
Without terming the new strategy of proper messaging as ‘conservative’ principles of constitution, less government, and less spending, Priebus made it clear that the goal is to “build this party and do it quickly” and that it “takes leadership” in order to rebuild the GOP.