Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, joined anchor, Jake Tapper.
For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.
MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”
Reince Priebus on State of the Union: Full Interview
Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, on GOP candidates insulting one another: “…the way you communicate and tone is very important. And, sometimes, it's not what you say, but it's how you say it. I think all of our moms - have told us that. But - all these candidates are going to have to account for their own mouths and their own words. And so, if you go back to 2012 - it wasn't anything another candidate said - whether it be the 47 percent or whether it be self-deportation. It was the nominee's words that came back into play. So, look, I think, at the end of the day, each candidate is going to be accountable for their own words and their own mouth. And so they should proceed with caution.”
Priebus on his job as chairman of the RNC and the status of the Republican Party: “My job is to make sure that - when we have a nominee, that we're ready to go, and we can beat Hillary Clinton, who's already under 40 percent, and over 60 percent of the American people say they don't trust her. So, I think we're in a great place as a party. …But we have to make sure that we continue down this path of building up the infrastructure, building up our operation at the national level, and making sure that we put a candidate on the ballot that people like, that people want to have a beer with, that people believe have a great vision for this country. And then you team that up with a much better operation on the ground this time around, I think that we're going to win, and this is just part of the process.”
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper live at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. With the next Republican debate just three days away, we have already seen the first casualty of the 2016 primary race. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry dropped out, but not before warning Republicans that they nominate front-runner Donald Trump at their own peril.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK PERRY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The conservative movement has always been about principles, not about personalities. Our nominee should embody those principles. He or she must make the case for the cause of conservatism more than the cause of their own celebrity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joining me now is Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus. Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us. I can't recall a presidential race where the front-runner was throwing and receiving so many elbows. Just this morning, Governor George Pataki released a statement in which he's basically saying he's refusing to support Donald - Donald Trump if he's the Republican nominee. He will not vote for Donald Trump, he says.
This comes on the heels of an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer in which Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, also running for president, repeatedly refused to pledge to support Trump if he wins the Republican nomination. You got the Republican candidates to sign these loyalty pledges. Are you concerned at all?
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: No, I'm not concerned. I - you know what? Every candidate in all these campaigns are going to do whatever they need to do in order to benefit their own campaigns. And I suspect that there will be a lot more things happening over the next several weeks. But they're all going to have an opportunity on Wednesday. And you're going to be in the middle of it, Jake. And I think, you know, one of the undiscussed issues is just controlling the debate and making sure that everyone has an ability to speak. And there will probably be more elbows thrown at that debate. And you're going to have your hands full. But I suspect that it will be a great night and a good opportunity for those campaigns to make their voices more heard, and they can speak to each other about it.
TAPPER: Yes, I guess I will get a little taste of what it's like to be Reince Priebus for the evening.
TAPPER: When former...
PRIEBUS: Yes, you get it...
PRIEBUS: But you only get it for a few - a couple hours, though, buddy.
TAPPER: Right. No, your job is much tougher.
TAPPER: When former Governor Perry dropped out of the presidential race, Senator Rand Paul posed this question on Twitter - quote - "What does it say about GOP when a three-and-a-half term governor with a successful record of creating jobs bows out as a reality star leads in the polls." That's a question from a Republican senator and presidential candidate. What does it say about the state of the Republican Party, Mr. Priebus?
PRIEBUS: What it says is, we have got 17 candidates running. And, just by attrition, you're going to have people dropping out. I mean, look, there's not enough hard cash to go around to pay campaigns in these states in order to keep 17 candidates alive. I mean, that's just the way it is. And so people are going to drop out, and, eventually, we're going to get a nominee.
My job is to make sure that when we get - when we have a nominee, that we're ready to go, and we can beat Hillary Clinton, who's already under 40 percent, and over 60 percent of the American people say they don't trust her. So, I think we're in a great place as a party. I think this is ours to lose. But we have to make sure that we continue down this path of building up the infrastructure, building up our operation at the national level, and making sure that we put a candidate on the ballot that people like, that people want to have a beer with, that people believe have a great vision for this country.
And then you team that up with a much better operation on the ground this time around, I think that we're going to win, and this is just part of the process.
TAPPER: As you know, Mr. Priebus, many Republicans are very concerned about the tone and tenor of the Republican race, especially when it comes to how Latinos are hearing this Republican race. Governor Perry raised this in his farewell address, for want of a better term. He said - quote - "Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant. It betrays the example of Christ." Are you at all concerned that any of your candidates are crossing the line when it comes to talking about Latinos, to the point that it might actually cost you the White House?
PRIEBUS: Well, look, I have said many times, the way you communicate and tone is very important. And, sometimes, it's not what you say, but it's how you say it. I think all of our moms have - have told us that. But, look, you know, all these candidates are going to have to account for their own mouths and their own words. And so, if you go back to 2012, you know, it wasn't anything another candidate said, the - whether it be the 47 percent or whether it be, you know, self-deportation. It was the nominee's words that - that came back into play. So, look, I think, at the end of the day, each candidate is going to be accountable for their own words and their own mouth. And so they should proceed with caution.
TAPPER: As you know from visiting the Reagan Library, it's an amazing experience. And one of the reasons it is, is because you really - it really captures well Reagan's sunny optimism, which is one of the reasons he won so overwhelmingly in 1980 and 1984. When you walk through the Reagan Library, the United States doesn't seem like the - quote - "hellhole" that Donald Trump has described it as. And Trump's not the only one that is, I think, not really channeling Reagan when it comes to talking about how great this country is. Are you worried at all that the Republican candidates have been too doom and gloom when they talk about the United States, that maybe they could benefit from some of the Reagan cheer?
PRIEBUS: Well, Reagan's cheer comes from Reagan's work. I mean, he was one of the greatest presidents that we have ever had in this country. And so, certainly, when you go to the Reagan Library, you go back to a time of Ronald Reagan, where that attitude was present. But I don't believe that you can just take the feeling of the Reagan Library and claim that ever - you know, in perpetuity, that's the feeling that we have today.
I mean, each era has a different feeling. And I think, at this point, a lot of people out there across this country are concerned about their futures. And I think that, if you look at the polling, there's a reason why. In spite of your questions that you have asked, there's a reason why that almost all of our candidates right now are beating Hillary Clinton head to head.
And so it's because they don't think that this country's on the right path, and we can do better. But, certainly, I do believe that we're a blessed nation, that we're a blessed people, that - that we have the - the blessing, as a family, to be in a wonderful place, and that we want this country to not just be great, but we want it to be a place that can achieve even better things in the future. And, so, certainly, we are happy and cheery, and we're - we're - we have a feeling of gratitude to be in America. But I think, like all of us, we want to be in a better place than we are today. And I think that's the attitude we ought to have as a party.
TAPPER: Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, I will see you on Wednesday night here at the Reagan Library. Thank you so much for joining us.
PRIEBUS: All right. We're counting on you, Jake.
TAPPER: Thank you.