“Voter-to-voter contacts is something that I believe in, it’s my focus, and that means having a bigger, better, stronger army on the ground. That’s what wins, and that’s what we’re committed to,” Priebus explains. And while the Democrats have talked a big game about their grassroots organization in 2012, Priebus sees the Wisconsin recall election as a signal that they’ve got stiff competition from the GOP. “They bragged about making 800,000 calls,” he comments. “We made almost 4.5 million voter contacts in Wisconsin. We’re going to do in the rest of the country what we did in Wisconsin.”
Ed Gillespie, a former RNC chairman, notes the importance of Priebus’s background. “He’s restored the RNC’s traditional role as the backbone of the Republican party’s grassroots organizational strength,” Gillespie says. “He’s working to strengthen the state parties, enlisting volunteers and grassroots activists. It helps that he comes from the grassroots, as a former successful state party chair. They also put out excellent messaging documents and videos that help rank-and-file Republicans know what to say to their friends and neighbors and coworkers when it comes to hot topics.”
On the spending side, too, things have improved. Thanks to better budgeting, in 2011 the RNC spent only 68 percent of what it did in 2009, the most recent non-election year prior.
Will all this be enough for the RNC and the Romney team to outraise the DNC and Obama? Priebus can’t say for sure.“Outraising the fundraiser-in-chief is going to be very, very difficult,” he comments. “So beating him, I can’t tell you that’s going to happen.”
Still, he says Republicans shouldn’t be concerned that there will be a huge funding gap between their party and the Democrats — which looked like a real threat at the end of 2010.
“What I can tell you is that we’re not going to lose because we don’t have enough money,” Priebus says. “That’s not going to happen.”
— Katrina Trinko is an NRO reporter.