RNC Chair Reince Priebus had lots of assurances for This Week host George Stephanopoulos that all was good with the recent in-fighting we've seen from Republicans, but that didn't stop him from immediately taking a pot shot at former Romney aide, Eric Fehrnstrom, for his criticism of Priebus for the push to ban CNN and NBC from hosting Republican primary debates.
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus made clear that the 2012 campaign is long over on Sunday, when he went after a former top aide to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
On Friday, the RNC voted unanimously on Friday to ban CNN and NBC from hosting 2016 primary debates if they go forward with proposed programs about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"Attacking the media is a loser's game," he added.
When asked about that comment on Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Priebus dismissed Fehrnstrom by mocking him for one of his infamous 2012 campaign comments.
"Well, I don't know if his Etch A Sketch is on tilt. ... I'm not really taking advice from Eric Fehrnstrom right now," Priebus said. "I'm trying to build a party that's year-round. I'm trying to fix a data and digital operation, I'm trying to get a hold of a primary process and a debate debacle that as you know, I've called the traveling circus."
As Amanda noted, the fighting continued on Twitter with others piling onto Fehrnstrom as well. We all know the real reason for wanting to limit the number of debates. They know they harmed them in the last presidential election. They don't want people to hear too many of them talk. Fehrnstrom is correct though, the optics are terrible for them whether Priebus wants to hear it or not.
Full transcript below the fold.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by the man who's got the job of bringing the GOP together, party chair Reince Priebus.
Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us this morning.
I want to start off by showing this big story that appeared in "Politico" this week, called "Eve of Destruction;" ominous headline right there.
Went on to say, "It is almost impossible to find an establishment Republican in town who's not downright morose about the 2013 that has been and about to be. Most dance around it in public, but they see this year as a disaster in the making, even if most elected Republicans don't know it or admit it."
PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, kali (ph) mera (ph) George --
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm glad you got the Greek in, OK.
PRIEBUS: Hey, listen, and if you saw the next few "Politico" articles, you saw articles just yesterday about the peace and actually detente on the Republican National Committee between those Libertarians and the RNC.
I actually think, George, look, you know what, a healthy family debate is not a bad thing at all. I really believe that.
I don't think at a time when we just came off of a presidential election that having a party that's just dull and boring is not good just for our party, but for this country. I think that these debates are good. I was there in Boston.
Obviously I would appear to be someone that would be claiming that everything is hunky dory, but actually we had a very positive meeting, and there was peace and there was debate, and everyone left energized about the future of a party that is drastically changing its approach to politics.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And I think you got a standing ovation when you called for this resolution saying that there would not be any Republican debates on CNN and NBC if they continue to go forward with these documentaries and films about Hillary Clinton.
One notable dissent came from Mitt Romney's former senior adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom; he had this tweet right here.
He says, "It's bad optics for the RNC to block CNN and NBC from sponsoring presidential debates. Attacking the media is a loser's game."
PRIEBUS: Well, I don't know if that's just sketches on tilt, George. I'm not really taking advice from Eric Fehrnstrom right now. I'm trying to build a party that's year-round. I'm trying to fix a data and digital operation, I'm trying to get a hold of a primary process and a debate debacle that, as you know, I've called a traveling circus.
The fact of the matter is I've got to protect this party and our nominees. We don't want a whole lot of 23 debate rounds like we've had before. And I would just say that entities like NBC and CNN that are moving forward with four-part miniseries about Hillary Clinton are not going to take part in our debates.
Look, if you're not going to have 23 debates, these guys are making it a lot easier for us to pare that down to a reasonable number in front of people and entities that actually give a darn about the future of the Republican Party.
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