RNC Chair Shuts Down Stephanopoulos Spewing Dem Claims of GOP ‘Civil War Food Fight’

On ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday, co-host George Stephanopoulos told Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus that the GOP was “breaking apart” and quoted Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to bolster his claim.

Stephanopoulos touted how “Democrats are making hay” of the contentious Republican primary and recited attacks from Schultz: “Look at the Republicans, they’re in a civil war food fight. I think at the end of their convention the Republican Party will not be the Republican Party of today and they be will likely blowing themselves to smithereens.” He then pressed Priebus: “Aren't you worried about a convention where no one’s happy?”

Priebus turned the tables by blasting the Democrats: “Well, first of all, I mean, Debbie doesn't really have any room to talk. I mean, they're gouging each other's eyes out and the director of the FBI is reviewing a possible indictment of Hillary Clinton. So, I mean, I don't think she's got anywhere to talk.”

Earlier in the exchange, Stephanopoulos touted accusations from Donald Trump that “the system is being rigged by party operatives with ‘double agent’ delegates who reject the decision of voters.” Priebus pushed back: “Well, look, the rules were put out there over a year ago. It's up to the campaigns to understand them....I mean the system has been around for a long time. It was good enough for Abraham Lincoln, I think it's good enough for whoever our nominee is going to be. So, look, this is democracy in action.”

Preibus further explained: “I think that we're losing sight of what the word ‘convention’ actually means. It is a coming together of our party members to write rules of our party, to elect officers, that's what conventions are. So this is what’s happening – ” Stephanopoulos interrupted: “You say it's a coming together, but it sounds like it's going to be a breaking apart.”

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Priebus also appeared on NBC’s Today Friday morning and was similarly grilled by co-host Savannah Guthrie: “I don't know if I need to remind you, Donald Trump is never at a loss for words. And let me just play you a clip of the things he has said about the Republican Party organization just over the last several days.... For good measure, he added at another point that you personally ought to be ashamed of yourself. Is he out of line?”

Moments later, fill-in co-host Willie Geist pushed claims that the GOP delegate process was “anti-democratic”:

But, Chairman, he's not alone in thinking that this system is a little odd. One where it’s party activists and delegates who choose the president, and not the voters. There was no caucus, there was no primary in the state of Colorado. There are people who say that's anti-democratic, including many of the millions and millions of people who support Donald Trump. Don't you think, as you look at it from a common sense point of view, there’s something strange about that system?

Here is a full transcript of the April 15 GMA interview:

7:09 AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s get more on this now from the chair of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. He joins us from Washington. Thanks for joining us, Mr. Chairman. You heard Donald Trump in that piece right there complaining about the rigged rules on the Republican side. He also has an op-ed in this morning's Wall Street Journal. Here's what he says, “What we are seeing now is not a proper use of the rues but a flagrant abuse of the rules. Delegates are supposed to reflect the decisions of voters but the system is being rigged by party operatives with ‘double agent’ delegates who reject the decision of voters.” Your response?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: GOP Chair Responds to Trump’s Charges; Front-Runner: Process is a “Scam” & “Rigged”]

REINCE PRIEBUS: Well, look, the rules were put out there over a year ago. It's up to the campaigns to understand them. So in a vote system, depending on the outcome of the vote, candidates receive delegates. Those candidates must vote for that candidate, for that winner, so they're actually bound to vote for the winner, nothing is being taken away. And then when those elections happen for who those delegates are in those states, that's the process that the campaigns are intimately involved with and who wins those elections and who doesn't is up to the campaigns to make sure that those people win and that's what he's complaining about.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Trump also writes that he wants to reform the system, wants to work with you to reform the system. Do you think the system needs reform and have you spoken with Mr. Trump about it?

PRIEBUS: Well, I mean the system has been around for a long time. It was good enough for Abraham Lincoln, I think it's good enough for whoever our nominee is going to be. So, look, this is democracy in action. Both political parties use a similar system. The other piece of this is that this is a convention and I think that we're losing sight of what the word “convention” actually means. It is a coming together of our party members to write rules of our party, to elect officers, that's what conventions are. So this is what’s happening –

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say it's a coming together, but it sounds like it's going to be a breaking apart.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: GOP Chair Responds to Trump; Will There be Chaos at Convention?]

PRIEBUS: No, you know what I mean. It's the coming together of delegates to write the rules and elect officers. And that's what we're doing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But meantime, the Democrats are making hay of this. You had the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, out last night saying, “Look at the Republicans, they’re in a civil war food fight. I think at the end of their convention the Republican Party will not be the Republican Party of today and they be will likely blowing themselves to smithereens.” Aren't you worried about a convention where no one’s happy?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: GOP Chair on Heated Primary Fight; Can the Republican Party Heal?]   

PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, I mean, Debbie doesn't really have any room to talk. I mean, they're gouging each other's eyes out and the director of the FBI is reviewing a possible indictment of Hillary Clinton. So, I mean, I don't think she's got anywhere to talk. But, no, it isn't easy. I'm not trying to claim it isn't and there is drama, but that's what our party needs to do, we need to come together, we need to pick a nominee, we need to come together and put our eye on the prize, which is the White House. But we're having a conversation right now of who that person will be and it hasn't happened, potentially, since 1940. We'll see.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us this morning.

PRIEBUS: You bet.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, you know, this long fight taking a toll on all sides.

ROBIN ROBERTS: It really is, George.

Tell the Truth 2016 NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC Good Morning America NBC Today Video George Stephanopoulos Savannah Guthrie Willie Geist Reince Priebus

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