RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
“Renew. Grow. Win.”
2013 RNC Winter Meeting
January 25, 2013
Remarks As Prepared For Delivery
Embargoed Until Delivery
Good afternoon. It’s an honor to be elected your Chairman for a second term. I am humbled by your trust and support—and to each of you, I say thank you.
The task before us now is charting our party’s future. We have an opportunity and responsibility to shape the GOP of the next generation.
By now, you know the theme of this meeting: Renew. Grow. Win. That is my agenda for the next two years. Renew our party. Grow our ranks. And win MORE elections.
We must compete in every state and every region, building relationships with communities we haven’t before. At the RNC we are dropping ‘red’ and ‘blue’ analysis. We must be a party concerned about every American in every neighborhood. We must develop the best technology with the help of the best minds—and train activists, volunteers, and candidates with the modern tools of a modern party.
That is the vision I want to share today—and that’s the work that we must begin today.
It’s a big challenge, but we can do it. Four years ago, when I took over the Wisconsin GOP, we faced an uphill battle. But two years later, we won a Senate seat and the governorship, won Republican majorities in a left-leaning state, and sent new Republican representatives to Congress. We turned a very “blue state” pretty darn red.
Two years ago, we found a broken organization at the RNC. But we accomplished the goals we set for ourselves. Our debt: we overcame it. Our committee: we rebuilt it. Our reputation: we saved it. And in the presidential race, no RNC has ever been a more supportive partner to a nominee than we were.
So, I know we can tackle the challenges ahead if we commit to it.
Now, the way I see it, we have three options going forward. First, we could keep talking about our principles in the same way we always have. But doing the same old thing the same old way doesn’t sound like a winning option.
Second, we could compromise our principles. Some would like that, but it would make us little more than watered-down Democrats. That would be wrong for our party and for our country.
Or, the third option: We can stand by our timeless principles—and articulate them in ways that are modern…relevant to our time and relatable to the majority of voters. And that, I believe, is how we’ll achieve a Republican renewal. That’s how we’ll grow. That’s how we’ll win.
We’re still in the middle of a comprehensive review, but there is one clear, overriding lesson from November: we didn’t have enough voters. I’m no math whiz; I’m an attorney. But I don’t need a calculator to know we need to win more votes. We have to find more supporters. We have to go places we haven’t been, and we have to invite new people to join us.
This is about more than the next two years—it’s about 2016, 2020, and beyond.
The good news is our principles are sound. We stand for opportunity and for liberty. Freedom is always a new idea—an ever-fresh, revolutionary idea.
These are the values that brought people to America—and continue to attract others to our shores. Has anyone come here in search of a superior government bureaucracy?
No, they come for a better life, in pursuit of happiness, a dream, a goal. Entrepreneurs, innovators, the lives they live: that’s what we stand for.
I think of my mother, born and raised in Khartoum, Sudan—and my father, whom she met when he was in the U.S. army, stationed in Ethiopia. They moved to Queens, NY, where he was an electrician and she was a seamstress. Their lives were simple but secure—because this country offered them the opportunity to build something for themselves.
Now, as Republicans, we know that if government isn’t limited, opportunity will be. But Democrats don’t see that; they’re the party of big government. The president’s inaugural address erased any lingering doubts about that.
Give Democrats a problem and they’ve got the same old solution: a federal bureaucracy. That’s not new. That’s not modern.
So we’re the party that offers something new. We’re the party of innovation. We want a real, dynamic economy driven by the free market, grown by the people. Not one dependent on government’s redistribution machine to keep it afloat.
We don’t want more money in Washington’s pocket. We want more money in your pocket—where you shop, where you live.
We want students and parents empowered by equal opportunity in education, not restricted by unions. We want an open energy economy that harnesses all sources of power, not those selected by an activist Energy Department. We want a healthcare system that respects doctor-patient decisions—not government dictates.
Innovation isn’t born from a government office building; it comes from garages and laboratories and dorm rooms. Why, in the age of crowd-sourcing, would America trust its most important decisions to—and rest its hopes for the future on—Washington politicians?
We are the party that says the individual can make better decisions than the bureaucrat. And we believe caring for this generation should not require robbing the next.
We can unite Americans around our values if we prove we can take them to a better place. So we must take our message to all voters and to every state.
It’s time to stop looking at elections through the lens of “battleground states.” We have four years till the next presidential election, and being a “blue state” is NOT a permanent diagnosis. Just three presidents ago, in ’88, Republicans won easily in places like California, Illinois, Connecticut and Delaware. If we make the commitment, we can win again.
When candidates like Scott Walker, Susana Martinez, and Chris Christie win statewide, they prove that no blue state is that reliably blue. But it’s up to all of us to decide if we are willing to fight for these states. It takes work; it won’t happen overnight. But from what I’ve seen in Wisconsin, we can make it happen. In two years, we want to hear two words: “Republicans everywhere.”
And we want to be Republicans for everybody. We have to take our message of opportunity where it’s not being heard. We have to build better relationships in minority communities, urban centers, and college towns. We need a permanent, growing presence.
Simple “outreach” a few months before an election will not suffice. In fact, let’s stop talking about “reaching out”—and start working on welcoming in. Political support is cultivated over time—not collected on Election Day.
On the local and state level, we have many success stories in states like Texas and Florida—where Republicans are winning in minority communities. Let’s learn from them, highlight them, celebrate them, and apply those lessons nationwide.
In order to do all this, we need to empower, equip and train our candidates, volunteers, and operatives. Let’s host Skype-based training sessions and Google hangouts on campaign strategy, fundraising, door-to-door advocacy, and digital tools. We need to give the next generation of organizers access to the brightest experts.
And in the digital space, we don’t want just to keep up. We want to seize the lead. There are many leaders in the field willing to help the cause; they simply need to be asked.
As a party, we must recognize that we live in an era of permanent politics. We must stop living nominee-to-nominee, campaign to campaign. As we saw this election, our opponent benefited from a multi-year head-start. Now is the time to begin to develop a permanent, national field infrastructure. This is the opportunity to get a head-start of our own.
In all of this, we must promote our values. We must define ourselves before others define us. I’m tired of playing defense, so let’s go on offense.
On the issue of spending, for example, we must aggressively challenge the president—not just because it’s good politics, but because it’s good policy. It is morally indefensible to keep using the national credit card and sending the bill to our children.
And there’s no better way to promote our values than to spotlight conservative policies in practice—and that is best seen today on the state level. Where Washington Democrats have failed us, Republican governors are taking the lead, balancing budgets, and reforming government.
States with Republican governors are creating more jobs. And in 2012, eight of the ten top states to do business were led by Republicans. We know Republican reforms in the states will compare favorably to Obama’s wasteful, anti-reform Washington.
So, the task before us is transforming the party—to be a force from coast to coast. It doesn’t require resorting to the cynical, divisive identity politics of the Democratic Party; it means embracing our common identity as freedom-loving Americans.
In the next two years, we will lead. We won’t be supporting actors anymore; we will lead and lead boldly. We will be unafraid to challenge conventional wisdom.
And to those who have left the party, we want to earn your trust again. To those who have yet to join us, we welcome you—with open doors and open arms. This is your home, too. There’s more that unites us than you know. My job is to make that clear.
And Mr. President, if you’re listening, I have a message for you. We know you won the presidential election, and you like reminding us. Congratulations.
But you’ve made your party into one that promises more from government, but delivers less and less from our economy—particularly for Hispanics and African Americans, who have struggled disproportionately in the Obama economy.
And two years from now, your party is going to be up against Republicans that offer something better: more from this economy. More opportunity for everybody.
In the next election, I don’t know who people will vote for. I don’t even know who will run. But I know this: We will be a Republican Party that people will want to join. A party that inspires again. Not a party that just says “no”…but a party that says “follow us to a brighter future.” A party of prosperity, success, and freedom.
It doesn’t matter where you live, who you are, what you look like, or what your last name is. Because we will be a party for everyone, everywhere.
That’s the party you and I are here today to renew. That’s the party we are going to grow. That’s the party that can win.
As your Chairman, I will do everything I can to achieve this better future. But I want you to know it will take all of us. I need your help and your commitment. Together, we can build a better Republican Party.
Thank you—and God bless you.
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