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Priebus Announces Minority Outreach Initiative at RNC

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced a $10 million outreach initiative Sunday to better convey the party’s message to voters, particularly minorities.

Priebus said the GOP’s “unprecedented” self-evaluation has shown that it has a “quality of context” problem with relating to voters, largely because of “parachuting” into communities months before an election rather than building grass-roots support.

If Republicans have a level of familiarity with a community, he said, it is easier to maintain party support in situations where a candidate’s blunder – like Missouri GOP Rep. Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments — could torpedo the chances for victory come Election Day.

“We have to win the math war — which we do a good job of — but we’re going to have to learn how to win the heart war,” Priebus said.

Republicans need to do a better job of translating to voters how the deficit can directly affect them, such as their employer’s ability to give them a raise.

“We have to relate things to people’s lives,” he said.

Priebus also called for a shorter presidential primary season and condensed debate calendar to prevent early attacks lobbed by competing candidates to overshadow the main contest. He said he would ideally like to see the national conventions moved up to June or July, with a primary season that ends in April or May.

Priebus acknowledged that any major changes to the national party’s primary process would require support from the states. The Republican Party makeover requires more consistent marketing that transcends election cycles, he said.

The party needs to especially emphasize the cadre of young politicians, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, who are becoming standard-bearers of Republican ideals. “We’re going to stop being a supporting actor and start leading this country,” Priebus said.

— Lauren Gardner

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