In an interview with Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on MSNBC's The Daily Rundown on Thursday, host and incoming Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd proposed a cause for the GOP's difficulty in attracting women voters: "...do the arguments about contraception end up...putting the party on mute with those same women voters who may like your economic proposals but say, 'You know what? There's just too many crazy white guys who have crazy theories about my reproductive system and I'm not listening.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Priebus rejected the notion: "No, I don't think that's the case at all." Todd continued, this time imagining the thoughts of Hispanic voters: "And Hispanics, same thing. Hispanics who maybe on some social issues would be with you, but the immigration talk says, 'You know what? I can't trust because they've got a whole bunch of crazy guys that talk crazy on immigration.' Isn't that an issue?"
Before introducing Priebus, Todd hyped selective reporting of a study by Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS organization: "...this morning's headline in Politico is about a GOP report from another entity detailing how the Republican Party is, quote, "stuck in the past," and that women are "barely receptive" to the party."
In his first question to Priebus, Todd wondered: "The Republican Party is in worse shape with women now than it was in 2010. Why do you think that is?"
Priebus pushed back on Politico's slanted story:
But I think the point of that poll wasn't reported, obviously, by Politico. And the point of the poll actually was, is that if you looked at it, women were rejecting the Democratic Party by 40%, they were rejecting the Republican Party by 50%. I don't think either party can do a victory lap here....The poll's gist wasn't "Oh, the Republicans are stuck in the past." The gist of the poll was 50% of the women are saying they have a negative view of the Republican Party and 40% of the women are saying they have a negative view of the Democratic Party.
Near the end of the exchange Todd hit the GOP over campaign spending: "Do you wish your candidates weren't all showing up in one place, like with the Koch brothers, at one of these events? Do you think that sort of feeds the Democrats an issue about saying they're being bought and paid for?"
Priebus pointed out: "Well, listen, they have their own – they have the same issues. I mean, Tom Steyer and their big money....They've got the same issue as far as outside groups is concerned."
Here is a full transcript of the August 28 interview:
9:16 AM ET
CHUCK TODD: Two months to the midterms and the Republican Party, most notably the RNC, is dumping millions more into its efforts to take back the Senate. The RNC says it will spend now a total of a hundred million dollars on this year's election, specifically targeting certain Senate races.
On the flip side, this morning's headline in Politico is about a GOP report from another entity detailing how the Republican Party is, quote, "stuck in the past," and that women are "barely receptive" to the party. This begs the question, isn't this new report an echo of the autopsy from March of 2013? The party's relationship with women was just one of the things that that report recommended Republicans get straight before the midterms, and certainly before 2016.
Another was the immigration issue. Consider these three sentences from the autopsy as pointed out by Chris Cillizza last month. Quote, "We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our party's appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all."
So what happened? How did we get from that to headlines like these today [New York Times headline: "Immigration Clash Could Lead to Shutdown"; Washington Post Headline: "Border Stance Weighs on Midterms"] and can we expect the immigration issue to come back to the center before the midterm election? Here to talk about all of this and a little bit more, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee. Mr. Chairman, good morning to you.
REINCE PRIEBUS: Good morning, Chuck. Now before we get into all of this, I – this is for-
TODD: You're trying to soften me up. Yeah, nice try, I know this trick.
PRIEBUS: This is for your background and your set at Meet the Press. [Gives Todd a small Green Bay Packers helmet].
TODD: Oh, you're hoping we get-
PRIEBUS: We're going to have a big year. Both in the Senate and for the Green Bay Packers.
TODD: Packers better have.
PRIEBUS: And the Brewers are killing it too.
TODD: Thursday night, opening night of football. This time a referee isn't going to steal the game.
PRIEBUS: That's right. It's a tough way to start, too.
TODD: Let's start, though, with the issue of this midterm report. This is done at Crossroads, a Republican, obviously, supporting super-PAC. In some cases it's not news. The Republican Party has problems with women voters, but it does seem more pronounced. We've looked at it, our own pollsters, we've looked at it from four years ago. The Republican Party is in worse shape with women now than it was in 2010. Why do you think that is?
PRIEBUS: You know, I'm not sure. I mean there's one poll and we've done a number of polls too. I think one of the things that we see consistently is that tone matters. But I think the point of that poll wasn't reported, obviously, by Politico. And the point of the poll actually was, is that if you looked at it, women were rejecting the Democratic Party by 40%, they were rejecting the Republican Party by 50%. I don't think either party can do a victory lap here.
But the point of the poll was, I believe, was that to the members of the House and the Senate, is that if you present your plans and you present the solutions to problems that relate to the economy, which is the number one issue and you push back on what the Democrats are selling out there in the field, you can actually win women over. I mean that was the entire point of the poll.
TODD: Okay, you know it's interesting, because we're talking-
PRIEBUS: And we're going to have a good year, in spite of all this chatter, we're going to have a great year.
TODD: It's interesting, though, when you talk about that, because I've heard the same argument about Hispanic voters.
PRIEBUS: But I think it's true. I mean, you have to fight for the votes, Chuck.
TODD: There's no doubt. But the problem you seem to have is when it comes to women voters, do the – do the arguments about contraception end up blinding – basically putting the party on mute with those same women voters who may like your economic proposals but say, "You know what? There's just too many crazy white guys who have crazy theories about my reproductive system and I'm not listening."
PRIEBUS: No, I don't think that's the case at all.
TODD: And Hispanics, same thing. Hispanics who maybe on some social issues would be with you, but the immigration talk says, "You know what? I can't trust because they've got a whole bunch of crazy guys that talk crazy on immigration." Isn't that an issue?
PRIEBUS: Right. Well, I mean, two different issues. No, I don't believe it is.
TODD: But same – but same problem.
PRIEBUS: Well, let me – Well, I think it's a different kind of problem but let me just explain. On the first piece, in regard to women voters, the polling that we find and the polling that you're citing right there, I didn't see all the cross tabs or anything...
TODD: Fair enough.
PRIEBUS: ...no one did, but the general gist of it was, is that the economy is the number one issue. And in fact women actually don't really – don't really – aren't really moved on these issues as much as I think the pundits and everyone believes that they are moved. And that in fact, if Republicans talk about things like the economy, the debt, and make the case for jobs and schools and education and push back, I think Republicans can be more – more competitive.
TODD: Democrats are winning by some thirty and forty points on economic issues.
PRIEBUS: As far as the Hispanic issue is concerned, my position has been the entire time, and you and I have talked about it, is that you have 37% of Hispanics that self identify as conservatives, except you don't have Republicans in Hispanic communities making the case to Hispanic voters. So you can get the policy right all day long. Okay, you adopt a particular immigration reform package. So you adopt this package in Washington, D.C., but if I don't have a conduit in the Hispanic community at the church festival, at the community event, saying, "Here's what the Republican Party stands for," you're not going to move those numbers.
So, I mean, I understand people want to get caught up in policy and legislation, but the fundamental problem that we're trying to address is actually having people in the community to make the case to Hispanics and to women, and that is that what the gist of the poll is. The poll's gist wasn't "Oh, the Republicans are stuck in the past." The gist of the poll was 50% of the women are saying they have a negative view of the Republican Party and 40% of the women are saying they have a negative view of the Democratic Party.
TODD: Yeah, well, welcome to this election cycle where nobody's happy with either side.
PRIEBUS: And we're still on pace to win a majority in the United States Senate.
TODD: I wanna ask you about having your candidates.
TODD: No, no, no. Is it healthy for the RNC having basically more Republican candidates getting more help from an outside group like Americans for Prosperity rather than the RNC? You're putting in a lot of money, $100 million. They're putting in more.
PRIEBUS: Well, I'm not sure if that's true.
TODD: I mean, is it – but is that – is that helpful to the party building-
PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, I reject the premise because there was not an entity in America last year in 2013 that raised and spent more money than the RNC as far as Republican – whether outside group, inside group, any group. The fact is-
TODD: But are outside groups – aren't they bad for the national parties?
PRIEBUS: No, I don't think they're bad at all. I think they're very – I think they supplement – I think they can be very helpful and they can supplement very nicely what's done on the ground.
TODD: But should they be?
PRIEBUS: They – sure.
TODD: Shouldn't that power belong to the two parties?
PRIEBUS: Well, listen, as long as the national parties on both sides are restricted by how much money that we can raise from individuals, you're never going to have a situation where outside groups can't be helpful. I think they can be. I don't believe outside money is as effective as hard money. I think hard money – meaning, for the viewers, money that's regulated by the FEC, is money that any candidate and any person can use. It's like O-type blood. Everybody wants it, everybody can use it, but there's a limited supply. That money, party money, both sides, candidate money, is gold. The outside money can be valuable, but it has very – it has a very much more limited use.
TODD: Do you wish your candidates weren't all showing up in one place, like with the Koch brothers, at one of these events? Do you think that sort of feeds the Democrats an issue about saying they're being bought and paid for?
PRIEBUS: Well, listen, they have their own – they have the same issues. I mean, Tom Steyer and their big money and their opposition to things like Keystone Pipeline and getting the debt under control and doing basically nothing and stopping 300 bills in the Senate. They've got the same issue as far as outside groups is concerned. But I think where it's at is the Supreme Court has said very clearly that it's legal. I think it's here to stay. The only thing I would advocate is that the committees on both sides, DNC and RNC, should be at the same level playing field as these outside groups.
TODD: And I think that is – that is what's creating a real problem here, both for transparency, so many things. Reince Priebus, chairman of the RNC.
PRIEBUS: Thank you.
TODD: Thank you.
PRIEBUS: Go Pack, go.
TODD: One thing we all agree – America should agree on, America's team.
PRIEBUS: Yes, it is America's team.
TODD: That's right. Actually owned by the citizens of Green Bay.