The Corner

Priebus’s Plan to Remake the GOP Primary Calendar

On Face the Nation, RNC chairman Reince Priebus discussed in outline a plan for remaking the GOP presidential primary process that would involve include culling debates, dividing the country into four regional primary blocs, and moving up the convention. Priebus argued that the drawn-out 2012 process hurt Republicans. Transcript below:

Schieffer: let me ask you a little bit about what you want to do about the primary system that we have now. What — you’re saying too many debates, the debates start much too early, you want fewer debates, and ultimately to exercise as a party more control over — But what can you really do about the party primaries, because the states control that?

Priebus: We can do quite a bit. What i would personally want to do is I would set a beginning date, maybe January 1, and then I would set a new end date for the primary season, maybe the end of April, no later than mid-May. And if you have your convention in mid-June, the end of July, just doing that, Bob, is pretty unprecedented. If you can get an April 30 or mid-May end date, you have shortened the primary season and compacted it a little. Under the rule-making process of the national republican committee, there’s one power we do have. We can control the method by which delegates are awarded and how they’re divvied up by states and state legislatures. So of course we’re going to need states to cooperate. this is not going to be done without state parties being on board. But there are lots of options out there. One is, after your carve-out states are done, one option was to divide the country in quarters and do a regional rotating primary, do a different region every two to three weeks. That can be complicated, but that’s one of the options that’s out there. If by just setting an end date to the primary and just by moving the convention up, just by moving the convention, Bob, are you automatically — you’re automatically shortening the primary process itself.

Schieffer: I take it you think that the debates hurt your party rather than helped people get to know who these people were.

Priebus: Well, it hurt them because, number one, when you walked in the door, of course there were six or seven — there were multiple already on the calendar. It hurt because there was no way to control it. If have you 10 candidates and nine out of 10 say i’m going to take any two-hour block offered then you have a debate every three days and you’re the only show in town. While we are playing footsie debating each other 23 times, what was the other side doing? They were spending potentially hundreds of millions of dollars on data, technology, voter outreach. They’re actually getting the job done. We were debating and bailing the Republican National Committee out of debt. That tells you a lot of the story.


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