GOP chair seeks to boost party image

RNC Chair Reince Priebus is urging the party to explain its priorities.

Story highlights

  • RNC Chair Reince Priebus wants the party to lose its obstructionist image
  • Priebus: "I want to talk about the things we're for."
  • Priebus spoke Thursday at George Washington University
A year after Republicans were criticized for playing a major role in the government shutdown, the chairman of the Republican National Committee gave a big speech Thursday in an attempt to tear away at the party's obstructionist image.
"People know what we're against. I want to talk about the things we're for," Reince Priebus said Thursday at George Washington University.
The speech was part of the Republican Party's rebranding effort following its 2012 presidential election loss, in which GOP nominee Mitt Romney lost to President Obama in large part because of his weak standing with minorities, young voters and women.
Priebus was critical of the way the party operated nationally in the past, saying the GOP had simply become a "U-haul trailer of cash for a presidential nominee" once every four years -- an approach he called a "loser strategy."
He stressed that the party needs to be "obsessed over the mechanics" of voter outreach efforts, especially in the data and digital fields.
"We also have become a midterm party that doesn't lose and presidential party that doesn't win," he said, attributing the pattern to a lack of voter engagement and on-the-ground work.
"There's something that goes on in presidential elections that we have to get our act together and that's what we're going to do," he continued.
He ticked off 11 topics that he said are "driving the Republican Party" -- a policy list that included health care, the economy, national security, and immigration.
Priebus named a number of Republican lawmakers in Washington and governors who have proposed or enacted legislation that would address poverty, education and energy.
Among them were Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and House Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.
"One election won't fix everything, but we can take a step in the right direction this November," he said. "If the American people hire us, we'll be ready on day one."
The Democratic National Committee, which had staffers at the speech, knocked Priebus' remarks as simply recycled material.
"Reince Priebus just wrapped up his third rebrand speech for the GOP (not to be confused with his earlier rebrand speech or the one before that) but all we heard was the same old rhetoric that is out of step with reality," the DNC said in an email blast.​