RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
2013 RNC Spring Meeting
Los Angeles, CA
April 12, 2013
Remarks As Prepared For Delivery
Good morning. And once again, welcome to Hollywood! That’s not something you hear RNC Chairmen say very often.
It really is great to be here in Hollywood. Or as President Obama would call it, “Real America.”
It’s true Republicans don’t have as many celebrity friends. Which reminds me, I just want to clear up a rumor. It’s absolutely not true that I asked Lady Gaga to perform at the Reagan Library dinner tonight. It’s not the first time the press has gotten that wrong. For the record, she also won’t be chairing our platform committee or serving as our new director of surrogate operations.
Anyway, I hope you’ve had a good time out here in California. I hope the sessions have been helpful for you and for your state parties. And, I hope that you found a moment or two to enjoy yourselves.
By this point, after the meetings this week and our conversations the last few months, you barely even need an update from me. But that doesn’t mean you’re not going to get one.
Over the last three months, we’ve been in touch as the RNC took on the most comprehensive post-election review in the history of any national political party.
By now, I hope you’ve had a chance to read the report of the Growth and Opportunity Project. Across the political spectrum--inside and outside our party, inside and outside Washington--there has been general agreement: It was honest. It was thorough. It was unprecedented.
I’m proud of that. And I’m proud of the work of our five co-chairs and their staff.
As your Chairman, I’ve chosen to learn these lessons now and take action now. I promised nothing less when you re-elected me three months ago.
Now the Project made 219 recommendations. And they are exactly that: recommendations. So I appreciate the input I’ve received from so many of you: your compliments, suggestions and criticism.
But regardless of how you feel about the report or the recommendations, there remains one unmistakable message: We have to grow the party, and we have to get to work now.
You can’t govern if you don’t win, and we can’t win if we can’t grow.
So last month at the National Press Club, I announced the initial steps we would take in response to the Report.
Chief among them is our $10 million investment, this year, in a new field operation that will be particularly focused on community-level engagement with minority communities and groups whose trust we need to earn.
This is about going where we haven’t been, listening to voters we haven’t heard, competing in regions where we haven’t in a long time. You know…like Hollywood.
This is a long-term investment, and we’ll have hundreds of paid individuals fanned out across America.
We won’t win support overnight, but conversation by conversation, person by person, we can show Americans that no matter their background, where they live or who they are, we want a better future for them. We care, and have the solutions to the problems they face.
As part of this new operation, we’ve made a few announcements this week.
Steven Fong will join our team as National Asian and Pacific Islander Field Director.
And on the communications side, Jason Chung is coming aboard as Communications Director for Asian and Pacific Islander Engagement.
In the coming days, we will be announcing similar Field and Communications Directors for Hispanic and African American voters. They will build and support teams in the field--because that’s where we need to be: where people live, work, and worship.
The second big task ahead of us is data, digital, and technology. We will soon hire a new Chief Digital and Technology Officer who will build out and oversee teams in those three important and distinct areas. Those teams will work together to integrate their respective areas throughout the RNC and provide a data-driven focus for the rest of the organization. And they will be the new center of gravity within the organization.
We have to foster a culture of innovation and experimentation on our side of the aisle if we’re going to be where we need to be--on the cutting edge.
And if we’re going to compete in every state and community, then we want to further empower state parties. So today, I want to announce some new, additional steps we’re taking to help our state parties lead us toward victory. As a former state chairman, this is a priority for me.
That’s why we’ve recently hired Matt Pinnell, who is stepping down as Oklahoma chair, to serve as our new State Party Director. His task will be to provide State parties with the support you need to expand your operations.
That’s also why our DC teams spent time at this meeting working with state party staff to build out state finance, communications, and political plans for the next year and a half. If we’re going to be successful in the long term, we have to think long term.
If we work together, sharing best practices and with a spirit of unity, I’m confident we can build the foundation for the next generation of Republican victories. Not just for 2013 and 2014--but for 2016, 2020, and beyond.
From time to time, we may disagree. But we can agree on the important things: Our nation needs Republican leadership. Our Senate needs a Republican majority. Our states do best with Republican governors.
So it’s our duty to lift up our party, to be ambassadors for Republican principles. We need everyone on our team. Conservatives and libertarians, the tea party and the liberty movement, and those who wear no label but are firmly to the right of center.
We want everyone to be proud to be Republicans. Because no matter how you describe yourself, no matter what candidate you believe in, when you go into the ballot box, you really have a simple choice: A name next to a big R or a name next to a big D. The Republican Party or the Democrat Party. I don’t think we have to worry about the Whigs rising again.
There’s only one party that believes creating jobs is the work of an innovative private sector, not an old, tired government bureaucracy.
There’s only one party that follows the Constitution as the Founders intended.
There’s only one party that supports giving every child the chance to attend the best school possible.
… that sees the family, not the feds, as the foundation of society.
… that wants you to be in charge of your healthcare.
… that says caring for this generation doesn’t require robbing the next.
And that party is the Republican Party. The G.O.P.: The Growth and Opportunity Party.
Now, we all have our priorities, those issues that motivate us more than others, or the leaders that inspire us. And it’s great to say, “I’m for Marco,” or “I stand with Rand,” or “Cruz is my guy” or “Nikki’s my choice.”
And it’s great to be a conservative first--a freedom lover first. But in the end, when we cast that ballot, we’re Republicans. We will either succeed together or lose together. I’m for winning together.
And if we’re united, working in harmony, we can bring more Americans to our side.
So, our primary goal must be lifting up the party, and advocating our ideas in a way that draws people in. If it’s not, then we’re helping the other side. We’re defeating ourselves.
Let me make crystal clear something I’ve said since January. While we have to do things differently, there’s one thing that can’t and won’t change: our principles.
There are some that would like us to abandon them, but as long as I’m Chairman, we’ll stay true to them. Some would have us turn into Democrats-lite, but I refuse.
To paraphrase the great Margaret Thatcher, whom the world has honored this week, “The Chairman’s not for turning.”
I’m for changing minds--not changing values.
Our values are ever-fresh, revolutionary ideas. They are the roadmap for American renewal in a new and interconnected world.
So I’d never suggest we should waiver on our principles. But I also won’t tell anyone they can’t be a part of this party. If you’re willing to defend liberty and champion opportunity, then you should be a Republican.
At the RNC, we’re in the campaigns business. Our job is to win elections. And we take on that task because we believe America deserves a government fit for the 21st century. America deserves people-driven solutions for better schools, better healthcare, and better jobs.
As Republicans, we want a stronger defense. A stronger safety net. Stronger families.
Today, there are Americans who still need jobs. Workers who deserve more take home pay. Students who must have great schools. So many of them support Democrats simply because we haven’t done a good enough job offering them our alternative. We haven’t been in their towns, their cities, their neighborhoods. But we’re going to be.
This is a new day for our party. This is an exciting time for our party. We have a deep, diverse bench of young and energetic leaders.
If there’s one thing we saw this week, it’s that from California to Texas to Rhode Island, we have successful Republicans of all backgrounds at the local and state levels. We’re proud of these stars. Because we’re the party that says government of, by, and for the people should be kept closest to the people. So we will celebrate their accomplishments, and share their stories with the American people. Because the country needs their commonsense solutions more with each passing day.
The future of our country depends on the future of our party. So, let’s seize this opportunity and keep moving forward boldly and positively -- and onward to victory.
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