Republican Rebranding, Year Later: Priebus Predicting 2014 ‘Home Run’

Photograph by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, during the 41st annual Conservative Political Action Conference on March 8, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, predicts a “tsunami-type election” in 2014, with his party winning control of the Senate and enhancing its House majority.

The chairman credits the president’s health-care law for boosting Republican prospects. “Obamacare is in the tank and it’s total poison across the country and they can’t get away from it,” he said at a Christian Science Monitor-sponsored breakfast today.

The fight over the Affordable Care Act should help the party with younger voters, he said, because “it’s designed to screw young people over.”

Winning the Senate this year would be “a home run for the Republican Party,” he said — it would “box the president in,” blocking his second-term agenda.

This is the party that Priebus started re-examining after the 2012 presidential election, in which large shares of minority voters supported President Barack Obama’s re-election — including a 71 percent vote from the fast-growing Hispanic community. Obama also carried the Asian-American vote.

Priebus produced a post-election report a year ago on how the party would become more agile and inclusive. As an example of the project’s success, he cited an RNC field worker detailed to cultivate support among the Asian community in Colorado — with 91 percent of the national party’s staff is based outside of Washington, emphasizing its grassroots focus.

Asked about immigration, he said he still believes that comprehensive reform is a priority for the party — as identified in the growth project — but said Republicans may disagree on what “comprehensive” means. “There’s no one size fits all on this issue.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, had her own thoughts on today’s anniversary of the Republican Party’s “autopsy.

The Republicans have not grown more inclusive, she said. “They have moved in the opposite direction.”

In an appearance at the National Press Club, the Florida congresswoman said, “outreach isn’t just about deploying bodies” to organize election campaigns. It’s about a party’s orientation and appeal to the young and minorities.

“The problem the Republicans continue to have is that they are continuing to alienate wide swaths of voters,” she said, asserting that the Democrats will be able to maintain control of the Senate in November’s midterm elections.

And deployment does count, she noted:

“We have a very organized, well-funded ground game.”

“I really hope that my counterpart remains bullish and believes that Democrats are in the dumps,” Wasserman Schultz said, noting that the RNC expected Mitt Romney to win election as president.

— Mark Silva contributed 

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