Priebus retains GOP helm
WASHINGTON, Jan 26, 2013 (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Reince Priebus, re-elected Friday as chairman of the Republican National Committee, said his mission is to put the GOP on a permanent rather than cyclical political footing and compete in all regions and states, even those dominated by Democrats.
"There is not a state that isn't worth the effort," Priebus said in a telephone interview after he was overwhelmingly elected to a second term by the RNC in Charlotte, N.C.
Despite the GOP's huge disappointments in the presidential and U.S. Senate races in November, the Wisconsin attorney is credited with repairing the party's finances. The disappointments included top-of-the-ticket losses for president and Senate in Priebus' home state of Wisconsin.
Now Priebus says his new priorities are to upgrade the party technologically, create more of a year-round political apparatus and broaden the party's coalition by reaching out to voting groups and areas that haven't been voting Republican. "We're not going to grow this party by dividing. The only way is by adding and multiplying. Nobody is turned away. Everybody is welcome," he said.
Exactly how the party goes about these tasks remains to be seen. After every defeat, parties go through a debate over what went wrong and whether its problems are cosmetic, mechanical and circumstantial or whether they are more fundamental than that.
There is wide agreement among party strategists that the GOP can't prosper in the long run without increasing its appeal beyond its older white voting base and needs to perform much better with the growing population of Latino voters.
In his speech to the RNC on Friday, Priebus said "we didn't have enough voters" in the fall. "We must compete in every state and every region, building relationships with communities we haven't before," he said. "At the RNC, we are dropping 'red' and 'blue' analysis. We must be a party concerned about every American in every neighborhood. We must develop the best technology with the help of the best minds and train activists, volunteers and candidates with the modern tools of a modern party."
Priebus ended up running unopposed after a challenger from Maine couldn't muster the minimum support needed to qualify for the ballot.
In the interview, Priebus suggested that the party's problems are partly a matter of style and tone.
"We got to be more positive. We've got to put a smile on our face. We win economic arguments. We win the numbers arguments. We've got to do it with a smile. We've got to do it in a way that inspires people," he said.
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