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March 8th, 2013

Priebus’ Effort to Rebuild GOP Makes Tour Stop in Des Moines

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Written by: Kevin Hall
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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus brought his “listening tour” to Des Moines on Thursday. He is conducting sessions across the country with grassroots activists to discuss what went wrong for the Republican Party in 2012 and how to rectify those problems for 2014.

“No better place than Iowa to figure that out,” Priebus told reporters after the closed meeting. “I don’t know if there’s a more grassroots place to talk to people that work in the grassroots than here and to determine some of the things that we can do better.”

Priebus pointed out that messaging and mechanics where two areas that the GOP needs to improve on. All of the recommendations from his tour, part of the RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project, will be released in a report on March 18.

“In Iowa, we have a liberty movement that we need to grow and we need to welcome in our party,” Priebus said. “It’s a growing piece of our party, constitutional Republicans, liberty Republicans, is a big piece of a growing party that cares about issues like freedom and the Constitution…That was clearly an issue here today.”

Pottawattamie County GOP Chairman Jeff Jorgenson was one of those invited to attend the private meeting of Iowa activists. He was disappointed that the meeting was not very lengthy and there was little time for discussion.

“Everybody had their input,” Jorgenson told “Everybody got a chance to speak. I thought it was a pretty good session. It was a little disappointing from the standpoint of the state party in terms of turnout. Probably those that lean toward favoring the state party leadership were probably the ones that showed, but there were some that were not part of the cabal.”

Jorgenson noted that the meeting got “a little heated” when the conversation turned to 2012 GOP presidential nominee. He said some in the room blamed the GOP’s woes on Mitt Romney. Jorgenson, who was not a Romney supporter in the Republican primary, believes mechanics were the main reason for the Election Day disappointments.

“Barack Obama has a machine in place,” Jorgenson said. “It was in action, operating 24/7, around the clock. They have found a way to find what motivates people to vote and push that person’s button to get him to vote. We’ve got to use data and social media better to close that gap.”

“It’s also a call for a party to be more of year-round operation,” Chairman Priebus said. “We can’t just show up in Iowa six months before a presidential election and expect to compete with an Obama campaign that’s here year after year after year with hundreds of people. So, it’s a recognition that we’re in the world of permanent politics.”

Priebus said Republicans do not need to moderate their message, but pointed out that the controversial statements of candidates like Missouri senatorial hopeful Todd Akin were damaging to the party as a whole.

“I don’t think our platform is the issue,” Priebus said. “I think a lot of times it’s some of these biologically stupid things that people say that I believe caused a lot of the problems.” asked Priebus about Karl Rove’s new effort to prevent “controversial” candidates like Akin from running for the U.S. Senate. Rove’s organization specifically targeted Iowa’s own Steve King during a New York Times interview.

“Obviously there’s a lot of groups out there picking winners and losers in primaries, right? It’s been happening for a long time,” Priebus said. “Personally, as an RNC, I don’t think the party should pick winners and losers in primaries and I think, historically if you look at it, it’s a bit of a fool’s game because you can’t actually predict some of the things that go on.”

About the Author

Kevin Hall

Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor’s office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad’s 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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