Priebus on a possible Paul Ryan nomination: "No…Our candidate is someone who is running"
April 3rd, 2016
01:00 PM ET

Priebus on a possible Paul Ryan nomination: "No…Our candidate is someone who is running"

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Reince Priebus chairman of the Republican Party, joined anchor, Jake Tapper to discuss Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and more.

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”

Contacts: Lauren Pratapas — Lauren.Pratapas@turner.com; Brooke Lorenz- Brooke.Lorenz@turner.com

CNN STORY: RNC chief: 'Our candidate is someone who is running'

 

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

Priebus on Trumps unfavorability numbers: “ Well, I think in a general election campaign, all the candidates know that, you know, that it's a little bit different, and the message has to be very broadly-based, not just at the base of the Republican Party and participants in the primary process. But, look, our party's the party of the open door.  And the only way we're going to grow is by adding people in the door, and not subtracting and dividing people out.  So, I think there will be plenty of time to speak to the general public.  But, right now, we're having a conversation within a pretty confined space.   

Priebus on Trumps call for mass deportation: “Well, look, I think that immigration and a secure border is something that every American's worried about. And if you look at the numbers, you're seeing lots of independents and Democrats saying, yes, I think that we need to secure that border…..Well, look, as a party - as a national party, one of our problems was that we weren't in Hispanic and black communities on a full-time basis.  And the big changes we have made here is getting to a place where you have got 10 people every 10 blocks in Cleveland, in Cincinnati, in Pueblo County, Colorado.  I mean, if you look at what we have done as a party, we had 46 percent of the Hispanic vote in Colorado in 2014.  We spent about $7 million or $8 million on the ground there.  We got 28 percent of the black vote in Ohio.  That didn't just happen by accident.  It happened because we were committed to communicating and getting Hispanic and black voters to the polls and telling them about our party of equality and freedom and opportunity. That's some of the biggest changes we have made in our party.  But, sure, candidates have to watch their mouth.  They have to watch their tone and their tenor.  And the only way you can be the party of the open door is if you keep that in mind. And so, you know, it's going to be my job, and it's our obligation here to work with our candidates when we get to the general election and make sure that we're doing our best and putting our best foot forward in communicating our message to every American, no matter who they are or where they live. 

Priebus on the Democratic Party: “…They're not happy with the president's policies on immigration.  And, quite frankly, if you look at the people that are coming into the Republican Party, we have got the first-time voter registration edge on Democrats in over, like, 25 years in battleground states, Jake. No one can deny the fact that we're seeing record turnout.  We're up 70 percent.  The Democrats are down by 30 percent.  And who knows?  I mean, you might be talking about an open convention on the Democrats' side if Hillary Clinton gets indicted or charged.  Who knows?  Maybe they will open up the delegates on their side and Joe Biden will reappear.  It's possible.  I'm not just saying it in tongue in cheek.  I think it's possible.”

Priebus on a possible Paul Ryan nomination: [TAPPER] “….From the standpoint of the party rules, is there a possibility that House Speaker Paul Ryan could end up as the Republican nominee maybe on the fourth or fifth ballot, something of a consensus candidate?  [PRIEBUS]  No, because, number one, he doesn't want to do it.  And I know Paul very well.  And, you know, he doesn't seek out these things.  He's one of the unique people in Washington where, you know, his ego is, like, not even there.  And he's not selfish.  And he doesn't think like that. So, here's the thing.  If anything like that were to happen, which I think is highly, highly unlikely, I think our candidate is someone who's running, OK?  That's pretty obvious.  But, number two, even if something like that were even remotely possible, that candidate would actually have to have a floor operation and an actual campaign going on with the delegates to make something like that possible. And Paul's not going to do that.  So, my answer is no.  But, clearly, there's a lot of information out there that people are spreading around to cause a lot of confusion.  But I think that our candidate is someone who's running.” 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And joining me now is the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus.

 

Reince, good to see you.  Thanks for joining us.

 

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  Hey, Jake.

 

TAPPER:  So, if Donald Trump secures the nomination, he would start this general election campaign as the least popular candidate in modern times.

 

Take a look at this from the latest "Washington Post"/ABC News poll - quote - "Three-quarters of women view him unfavorably.  So do nearly two-thirds of independents, 80 percent of young adults, 85 percent of Hispanics, and nearly half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents."

 

How do you begin to turn those numbers around, sir?

 

PRIEBUS:  Well, I think in a general election campaign, all the candidates know that, you know, that it's a little bit different, and the message has to be very broadly-based, not just at the base of the Republican Party and participants in the primary process.

 

But, look, our party's the party of the open door.  And the only way we're going to grow is by adding people in the door, and not subtracting and dividing people out.  So, I think there will be plenty of time to speak to the general public.  But, right now, we're having a conversation within a pretty confined space.

 

TAPPER:  How does that open door figure with the giant wall that Mr. Trump wants to construct?  Because he's certainly sending a message that is apparently, according to polls, chasing away a lot of potential Republican voters, Latinos, Muslims, independents, women, Republican-leaning independents.

 

Are they going to be able to make their way to that door?

 

PRIEBUS:  Well, look, I think that immigration and a secure border is something that every American's worried about.

 

And if you look at the numbers, you're seeing lots of independents and Democrats saying, yes, I think that we need to secure that border.  They're not happy with the president's policies on immigration.  And, quite frankly, if you look at the people that are coming into the Republican Party, we have got the first-time voter registration edge on Democrats in over, like, 25 years in battleground states, Jake.

 

No one can deny the fact that we're seeing record turnout.  We're up 70 percent.  The Democrats are down by 30 percent.  And who knows?  I mean, you might be talking about an open convention on the Democrats' side if Hillary Clinton gets indicted or charged.  Who knows?  Maybe they will open up the delegates on their side and Joe Biden will reappear.

 

It's possible.  I'm not just saying it in tongue in cheek.  I think it's possible.

 

TAPPER:  It's certainly possible, but let's turn back to the Republicans, because you're talking about securing the border, and I take your point.

 

But it's been three years since you and the GOP put out your autopsy report, looking at the reasons why you felt the party lost the 2012 election.  And the report said that the party needs to improve its image with Latino voters.

 

This is what you said back in 2013 on the issue of immigration - quote - "Using the word self-deportation, it's a horrific comment to make.  I don't think it has anything to do with our party.  When someone makes those comments, obviously, it hurts us."

 

In retrospect, self-deportation compared to what we're hearing from Mr. Trump on the campaign trail, I mean, that's practically La Cucaracha.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

PRIEBUS:  Well, look, as a party - as a national party, one of our problems was that we weren't in Hispanic and black communities on a full-time basis.

 

And the big changes we have made here is getting to a place where you have got 10 people every 10 blocks in Cleveland, in Cincinnati, in Pueblo County, Colorado.  I mean, if you look at what we have done as a party, we had 46 percent of the Hispanic vote in Colorado in 2014.

 

We spent about $7 million or $8 million on the ground there.  We got 28 percent of the black vote in Ohio.  That didn't just happen by accident.  It happened because we were committed to communicating and getting Hispanic and black voters to the polls and telling them about our party of equality and freedom and opportunity.

 

That's some of the biggest changes we have made in our party.  But, sure, candidates have to watch their mouth.  They have to watch their tone and their tenor.  And the only way you can be the party of the open door is if you keep that in mind.

 

And so, you know, it's going to be my job, and it's our obligation here to work with our candidates when we get to the general election and make sure that we're doing our best and putting our best foot forward in communicating our message to every American, no matter who they are or where they live.

 

TAPPER:  Have you communicated to the front-runner that perhaps he needs to watch his tone and tenor when it comes to this general election electorate that is paying attention and, according to polls, not liking what they hear from him?

 

PRIEBUS:  Well, I mean, obviously, we have got to talk to all of our candidates about those things, and I think I have.  And it's been, in some cases, pretty well-documented that I have.

 

But, look, we're in the middle of a pretty tight race right now.  And, as you know, people are talking about the potential for an open convention, and no one really knows, obviously, who's going to be the nominee.  But it's our job to be fair and give credence to the voice and vote of our delegates and voters across the country.

 

TAPPER:  People in Washington, D.C., are waking up to this headline at "The Washington Post," "The Future According to Trump: Massive Recession."

 

Are you concerned at all about that message, a message of doom and gloom?

 

PRIEBUS:  Well, certainly, people are afraid in this country, and they're angry with the president that hasn't delivered.  And whether you're on Main Street or whether you're in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, or wherever you're from, things have not improved.

 

And so I think, you know, when people are afraid and when they're angry, sometimes, people say things that they regret.  But the truth is, is that people are concerned about the future.  And every candidate is going to communicate their message differently.

 

But it's up to us to choose a nominee along with the voters across the country, and then get our message out to the people and win in November.  I think we're going to do that.  You look at Hillary Clinton, she's in the ditch.  Her numbers are backwards.  She's losing to a socialist in Vermont.

 

I get that we have got some drama on our side of the aisle.  I won't shy away from that.  But, certainly, when you look at the - what's going on on the Democrats' side, I think they're on the verge of a fiasco at their convention.  And I don't know what Comey is going to do at the FBI either.

 

TAPPER:  On Thursday night, there was a town hall meeting, and Donald Trump was asked about whether he - not - whether or not he thought women who get abortions should be punished.  And he said, yes, there has to be punishment.

 

Now, he's since walked back that answer.  But Rush Limbaugh, who is a major conservative voice, as I'm sure you know, expressed real concern about what that answer will mean to Democrats.  Take a listen.

 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

 

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I'm telling you, what happened last night was huge in terms of rejuvenating the Democrats.  They were moribund.  They were falling asleep.  They were depressed.  They don't have a candidate they could give a damn about.  They're excited not at all.  Their turnout is nothing.  Now they're energized.

 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

 

TAPPER:  Are you concerned at all?  Is Rush Limbaugh right?

 

PRIEBUS:  Well, he's right about the first part, that they have nothing to be excited about.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

PRIEBUS:  He said it better than I could.

 

But, look, I mean, he's since walked that back.  Of course, we don't want women prosecuted.  But, again, as I said before, we're the party of the open door.  That means anyone can come in.  Obviously, we have our principles that we're a pro-life party.  We believe that.  I expect that, obviously, to be the case moving forward.  And I'm happy he clarified his comments.

 

TAPPER:  Former Bush adviser Karl Rove said this week that a fresh face might be the thing that could give Republicans a chance in November.  John Boehner has said that that person should be Paul Ryan, your fellow Wisconsinite.

 

From the standpoint of the party rules, is there a possibility that House Speaker Paul Ryan could end up as the Republican nominee maybe on the fourth or fifth ballot, something of a consensus candidate?

 

PRIEBUS:  No, because, number one, he doesn't want to do it.  And I know Paul very well.  And, you know, he doesn't seek out these things.  He's one of the unique people in Washington where, you know, his ego is, like, not even there.  And he's not selfish.  And he doesn't think like that.

 

So, here's the thing.  If anything like that were to happen, which I think is highly, highly unlikely, I think our candidate is someone who's running, OK?  That's pretty obvious.  But, number two, even if something like that were even remotely possible, that candidate would actually have to have a floor operation and an actual campaign going on with the delegates to make something like that possible.

 

And Paul's not going to do that.  So, my answer is no.  But, clearly, there's a lot of information out there that people are spreading around to cause a lot of confusion.  But I think that our candidate is someone who's running.

 

TAPPER:  All right.

 

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, thank you so much.  Always a pleasure to have you on, sir.

 

PRIEBUS:  You bet, Jake.

###END INTERVIEW###

 


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