Priebus: GOP about 'addition and multiplication not division and subtraction'
Reince Priebus, just re-elected to a second term as chairman of the Republican National Committee, was among the Republicans clapping at their Winter Meeting Thursday night as Gov. Bobby Jindal lambasted his party for being "stupid" and "insulting the intelligence of voters."
Priebus said in an interview scheduled to air Friday in the 6 p.m. ET hour of CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" that he embraced the tough talk and sees "eye to eye" with Jindal.
"We're right on the economics but I think its time to inspire with a smile, talk to every American no matter what state you're in and start building a party through the concept of addition and multiplication not division and subtraction," Priebus said.
Jindal's passionate calls for the party to "reject identity politics" and approach elections as the party of "growth" rather than "austerity" drew attention for their bluntness.
"We must reject the notion that demography is destiny, the pathetic and simplistic notion that skin pigmentation dictates voter behavior," he said. "We must treat all people as individuals rather than as members of special interest groups. The first step in getting the voters to like you is to demonstrate that you like them.
He is chairman of the Republican Governor's Association and considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
After an election which saw Democrats hold the White House, expand their lead in the Senate, and peck at Republicans' hold on the House, Priebus convened a panel to develop a political strategy for the Republican Party's future, particularly in the area of minority outreach. That group is expected to report back in March.
In the meantime, Priebus has been frank about what the GOP needs to do, and hasn't been shy about acknowledging past shortcomings, including the party's heavy losses last year among several minority demographics and voters who are women.
"If you look at how we're doing with Hispanics and African Americans, it wasn't good in November," he said in the CNN interview, "but you know what you've got to ask for the order in order to make the sale."
Controversial comments, including those on rape from U.S. Senate candidates Richard Mourdock and Rep. Todd Akin, do not represent the Republican view, Priebus said.
"Some of these things happen and you can't carpet the world as much as you try to," he said. "You want everything to be perfectly done and you want candidates to have comments coming out of their mouths that don't embarrass the party, but in those particular cases I think those are one-offs and I think people understand that's not our party."
He pitched the idea of ending a "red-state, blue-state" analysis -- the lingo of political analysts who look at electorate leanings and likely electoral outcomes -- and said the party "can compete in every state across America."
That would require resources, and Priebus has demonstrated himself capable in the area of fundraising. He paid down the party's $24 million debt following the 2010 midterm election, pumped money into races in the 2012 cycle, and ended last year with $3 million on hand.
His strategy also requires ongoing commitment.
"You can't just do it in nine months before a presidential campaign," he said. "We've got to start now and you build by having a consistent ongoing presence and relationship in communities across America."
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