By Joe Gorman
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus says his party needs to be more consistent.
Specifically, Priebus said Friday before the Columbiana County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner at the Salem Community Center that it needs to do more than just win midterm elections.
The party also needs to win presidential elections, he said.
Priebus was the keynote speaker at the event, which also featured other prominent state Republicans such as Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta and Ohio Supreme Court Justices Sharon Kennedy and Judith French.
Priebus said that though he thinks Republicans will do well in the upcoming midterm elections, especially in the Senate, they have to carry that momentum over into presidential elections. The party has lost the last two, both to President Barack Obama.
“We have to be a party that’s good at winning presidential elections,” Priebus said.
Priebus said one of his main goals in getting ready for the 2016 presidential election is improving the party’s use of electronic and social media in elections. He also said he wants to tone down the rhetoric among candidates in some of their primaries because sometimes a bruising interparty brawl can carry over into the fall against a Democratic opponent.
“We’re killing each other all over the place,” Priebus said.
Priebus said party members at the grass-roots level are important for the digital push he wants to make because they are the ones closest to voters and can gather their information to be used to recruit members and voters. He said he wants to bring back the “precinct captain” concept to local parties, where every precinct has a captain who will coordinate information gathering and get-out-the-vote efforts.
In the last two presidential elections, Obama has been able to carry Ohio, and both times it was close. Priebus said to swing the state into the GOP column in 2016, Republicans need to be active in the state for an entire year, not just the four months of the election cycle, and he also wants candidates to do a better job of connecting with minority voters in Ohio.
He also said a candidate who comes off as a “regular guy” could help.
And he had someone in mind.
“We need to put someone on the ballot that people want to have a beer with. People like [Gov.] John Kasich,” Priebus said.
In an email response to Priebus’ visit, Meredith Tucker, communications director for the Ohio Democratic Party, said Democrats already have a proven strategy in the state while Republicans are lacking in ways to reach out to Ohio voters. She also mocked him for predicting a Republican victory in the 2012 presidential election.
“We’re sure to hear a lot of bravado about the Republicans’ plans for a new ground game in Ohio,” Tucker said in her statement. “So while they start from scratch, we’re building on our successful, already proven get-out-the-vote strategy. Reince was wrong on Ohio then, and he’s wrong on Ohio now.”