June 16, 2014

I've read a lot of excuses and potential explanations for why House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary race over the last week, from the right claiming it was immigration reform, to Brat's campaign against Wall Street, to right wing radio's support and the fact that no one has bothered to make sure there wasn't a problem with the unverified voting machines.

The one thing I have not heard anyone try do is to twist themselves into knots to argue is that it does not mean there are some deep divisions within the Republican party -- or at least until this Sunday.

I don't know of the RNC's Reince Priebus is trying to fool himself, host Bob Schieffer, the CBS audience, or all of the above, but I don't think he did a very good job defending the indefensible here and pretending that everyone in the Republican party is one big happy family right now, or that there's a chance in hell that any of them were ever going to come together on some sort of immigration reform.

You can bet that anything that would pass a Republican congress would make sure that we have a permanent underclass of workers with no right to vote, no chance of ever becoming citizens, no opportunity to unionize, and that are paid something below minimum wage.

And rather than admit that the GOP is divided, Priebus took the opportunity to just attack Democrats instead. To his credit, Schieffer did actually point out that his party has a long history with the far right wing of their base.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. And we're going to turn from Iraq to politics back home. Reince Priebus is the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Mister Chairman, thank you for coming.

REINCE PRIEBUS (Republican National Committee Chairman): Happy Father's Day, by the way.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Thank you very much. Eric Cantor got beat. Lindsey Graham won. How divided is the Republican Party right now?

REINCE PRIEBUS: Yeah, I don't think it's divided at all. I mean I think you have-- you have districts that are eighty-five percent Republican and more than one Republican wants to be congressman and in some cases more than one person wants to be a senator. And so, you know, I think in the regard to the Cantor issue. I think Tom Price had it right this past week when he said, look, when-- when you're trying to be a majority leader and-- and Eric did a great job of it. But it takes you all over this country, takes you out of your district. And pretty soon that good work you're doing nationally becomes a liability locally. And I think it's a local issue. I mean we all know what Tip O'Neill had to say about local politics.


REINCE PRIEBUS: And that's what this is.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I hear you and with respect to your answer, if the Republican Party is not divided, then do I take it you're all for immigration reform or you're all against immigration reform?

REINCE PRIEBUS: But the Democrats don't agree on everything either.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, of course--

REINCE PRIEBUS: I mean the fact that--

BOB SCHIEFFER: --I'm asking about your party?

REINCE PRIEBUS: Yeah, but no. I don't think so. I think that if you look at-- you google Ted Cruz, you google Rand Paul and immigration, you-- what you'll find is that even Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have been out there publicly calling for serious immigration reform. And so, in fact, Rand Paul on March nineteenth went to the Hispanic Chamber and said we need comprehensive immigration reform. Those are his words, not mine. I think there is consensus that the immigration system is broken, but how to fix it is another issue.


REINCE PRIEBUS: And if Harry Reid says it's my way or the highway, well, guess what? It's not going to happen.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, people like Lindsey Graham say there ought to be a path to citizenship for the immigrants who are in this country right now. Would most Republicans agree with that?

REINCE PRIEBUS: I'm not sure about that. But, you know, as chairman of this party I think that what we have to do is more fundamental than just argue about policy. I mean-- and we've been on-- we've been talked about this before. You get the policy right all day long but if you don't have a conduit in the community, on a long-term basis, if you don't have Republicans and Hispanic and African-American, and Asian communities talking about the Republican Party or nominee, et cetera, for four years, not just four months, you're not going to improve in national elections. But, you know, we're heading into a midterm, Bob, and I think we all know this. We can keep-- we can keep discussing the Republican Party, we're going to add seats to the House, so majority is going to grow. And I think most people out there believe that we've got better than fifty-fifty chance of winning the U.S. Senate. We're doing about everything you need to do to keep winning. I mean the fact is we didn't beat an incumbent president in 2012. We're winning everywhere else. The future is very solid and I think this year is going to be a great year for our party.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know so much of it reminds me of 1964, maybe I'm the oldest person around, and I probably am and maybe the only one old enough to remember that. But I remember a Republican Party where you had republican moderates mostly in the east headed by Nelson Rockefeller and then you had western conservatives headed by Barry Goldwater. Those two factions never came together and Goldwater lost the election in a historic landslide.

REINCE PRIEBUS: And-- and look--

BOB SCHIEFFER: How do you prevent that from happening, Reince Priebus?

REINCE PRIEBUS: Well, you do-- you do what we're doing at the national level. You-- you become a four-year party. You get in communities nonstop. But the fact is where are we not winning, Bob? I mean what-- what state governor's races are we not winning? What-- what House races are we not winning? I mean we're-- we're talking about--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you're not winning--

REINCE PRIEBUS: --what's taking the--

BOB SCHIEFFER: --at the last presidential election.

REINCE PRIEBUS: Okay. That's right. One-- one incumbent President with-- with a-- with a country that said fifty-fifty right track, wrong track. I mean that is not shocking that an incumbent President didn't win. The fact is we're-- we're now running with a lot of great people that have a vision for this country like Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, and others, in my own state of Wisconsin, that are very dynamic. And it looks like Hillary Clinton is getting ready. She went from a seventy-percent approval rating down to about fifty-eight in eighteen-- fifty-two in eighteen months.

BOB SCHIEFFER: She just opened her book tour. She has her book out. Some said she kind of stumbled a bit when she started talking about being dead broke when she and her husband left the White House. What's your-- give me your review of her book tour so far.

REINCE PRIEBUS: Well, I mean, if you just take a step back for a minute, you know, the Hillary Clinton folks wanted just to be sort of a campaign rollout. And when communications people do a rollout, they try to pick their-- you know, really great interview to do so they picked Diane Sawyer. Diane Sawyer ended up picking her apart. You know she said she was dead broke, she didn't have any answers on Benghazi. Just said a day earlier, the White House said Hillary Clinton's top accom-- accomplishment is that they decimated al-Qaeda as if they didn't know what the next day's newspapers were going to say. I mean, I-- I just don't think she is very good at it. I mean they-- they've staged this thing. They've planned this book. It's a book of mushes, I think, Mark Halperin called it. And-- and she went out of the gate with one gaffe after the next. This is my point. We're going to do great in this mid-term. And I think people expect us to do well and then we're going to move into the presidential election. The Democrats have nobody behind Hillary Clinton and if she keeps freefalling--


REINCE PRIEBUS: --she's not going to be the nominee.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But will you be united in the presidential election?

REINCE PRIEBUS: We will be united in the presidential election. And if-- if you just take one race of Eric Cantor, a Republican district that remains Republican, and you want to talk about Mississippi, another Republican state that's going to be Republican, you know, you're taking two races out of the entire country and extrapolating that into some big division.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, what-- what will be your appeal to Hispanics because right now, what did Mitt Romney get, thirteen percent?

REINCE PRIEBUS: He got twenty-seven percent.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Twenty-seven?

REINCE PRIEBUS: Twenty-seven percent. But, look, you can't talk about, you know, some of the things that-- that were done in that race. Number one, you know, the word self-deportation certainly didn't help Mitt Romney's chances with-- with Hispanics. But the-- but the bigger problem, Bob, is that if you're not in the community but for three months before an election, you're not going to win over those voters. And what we've said at the Republican National Committee is we need to have a four-year program in Hispanic communities and black communities and Asian communities and that's what we have done. And I think we're going to have a better chance. And you know what economy, jobs, it's still number one. And right now, the President hasn't delivered and Hillary Clinton's been a part of it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Reince Priebus, always good to have you.


BOB SCHIEFFER: We hope you'll come back.



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