The chairman of the Republican National Committee made a trip to Iowa today, rejecting calls for the GOP to moderate its message. Reince Priebus, a Wisconsin Republican, presided over the national party in 2012 and has been elected to stay on for the 2014 elections.
“Listen, I don’t think our platform is the issue,” Priebus told Iowa reporters late this afternoon. “I think a lot of times it’s some of these biologically stupid things that people say, you know, that I believe caused a lot of the problems.”
Priebus pointed to controversial comments about abortion from Missouri Republican Todd Akin. Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King backed Akin in 2012. King may run for the U.S. senate himself in 2014 and GOP operative Karl Rove has threatened to run ads against King, so a more moderate Republican candidate could win a primary. Priebus said Rove has a First Amendment right to make the case against King.
“Obviously there’s a lot of groups out there that are picking winners and losers in primaries, right? It’s been for happening a long time,” Priebus said. “…Personally, as an RNC (chair), I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe the party should pick winners and losers in primaries and I think it’s, historically, if you look at it, it’s a bit of a fool’s game because you can’t actually predict some of the things that go on.”
Priebus is on a “listening tour” to visit with Republicans around the country and chart a new course for the party. He told reporters today in Des Moines that the GOP can’t just wait ’til the last four months of a campaign and, instead, must embrace “permanent politics” in order to compete with Democrats.
“It’s something that quite frankly our party has been slow to get to because we really don’t like politics as a vocation, as a party. It’s something that we resist, generally, as a party and it’s something that has to come to an end,” Priebus said. “If we want to compete at a granular, person-to-person, heart-to-heart level — we’ve got to be here all the time.”
Priebus said the “liberty movement” presidential candidate Ron Paul built in Iowa must be “welcomed” because it’s a “big piece” of a growing party. The chairman of the Iowa Republican Party and a majority of members of the state central committee are Ron Paul supporters.