RNC Condemns NSA Surveillance While Vowing to be the Real Party of Fairness
WASHINGTON -- The Republican National Committee highlighted projects to draw in more women voters at its winter meeting in Washington and passed a new package of policy statements including a call for the cessation of National Security Agency surveillance programs.
The 168-member committee also approved a rule aimed at penalizing states that try to "leapfrog" one another by conducting presidential primaries before March 1, a move that RNC chairman Reince Priebus called "reforms to put Republican voters, not the liberal media, in the driver’s seat."
He later called it a "historic moment" in "taking control of the primary process."
Without naming names, Priebus even took a dig at the type of comments that have made negative headlines from Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock on abortion during campaign 2012 to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at the RNC podium Thursday talking about the Dems' communication to women.
"Our example matters," Priebus said. "I’ve said many times before that the policies and principles of our party are sound. However, as we look to grow the ranks of our party, we must all be very conscious of the tone and choice of words we use to communicate those policies effectively."
One person in the ballroom clapped loudly in response to this statement, and a handful joined in.
"We should set the standard for future RNCs – and also set an example for other Republicans," Priebus continued. "We all know the GOP has to get out of our comfort zones and go to places we haven’t been for a while and engage and welcome new voters."
The chairman said engagement efforts mean "getting to know communities where we hadn’t been for a long time, and we’re talking to people who hadn’t heard from us for too long."
"That’s how you grow a party," he said.
Priebus singled out Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), as well as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), as members of Congress who have been thinking outside of the box on policy and outreach.
"I’m glad to see friends like Rand Paul going to Detroit to support the party’s efforts there. Likewise, I’m glad to hear Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Rand and others taking up difficult issues, sharing Republican ideas on how to fight poverty in this country—a problem that has gotten worse under Democrat leadership and this administration," Priebus said.
"They each have their own approaches. But at the end of the day, expanding opportunity is always the focus. And that’s what we stand for as Republicans. The issue of income inequality is best addressed by ensuring equal opportunity for all."
The chairman said the GOP needs to seize on the fairness doctrine message pushed by President Obama, expected to be his main theme at next week's State of the Union address.
"When we make sure people have equal opportunities – in education, in the job market, in health care – we can all end up better off. That’s the right approach. And that’s what’s fair," Priebus said. "I think that’s what Americans expect from their leaders. Fairness. We’re about that as a party, too. It’s not fair to voters when leaders they trusted lie to pass their agenda."
"Republicans are going to stand for fairness, freedom, and equal opportunity for all Americans."
Priebus took shots at those sowing a message that the party is divided and hailed the RNC as a uniter for factions of the party.
"I’m disappointed when people try to attack our work—or create dissent, or the appearance of dissent, for their own benefit. Every once in a while, we read or hear some of our own friends even attacking the RNC," he said, adding that the attacks are unwarranted because of the committee's field operations, technology upgrades, outreach efforts, and "ground game that will help governors like Scott Walker and Rick Scott and all of our Senate opportunities across the country."
"We’re doing something unprecedented here. When, in the history of our party, has the RNC been able to completely transform our approach to politics in less than a year?" Priebus said. "…As we keep up the work, let’s set an example for our fellow Republicans."
Sharon Day, co-chairman of the RNC, said the GOP needs to not view courting women voters as outreach to a minority group as women make up 53 percent of the electorate.
Furthermore, she stressed, "We can't fight the Democrats' phony rhetoric on women with male voices."
Day highlighted some of the RNC's efforts intended to target women, including an RNC women's summit, greater cooperation with the GOP women's caucus in Congress, a "Women on the Right Unite" project, more women in leadership positions on campaigns, and recruitment of women between the ages of 21 and 40 to serve as precinct captains.
"That is exactly the age group of women voters that we need to reach and we need to empower," she said.
RNC members heard that the committee is in good financial health, with more than $9.2 million in the bank today, an increase of over $4 million from this time last year.
In addition to the resolution condemning NSA spying as a violation of the 4th Amendment, other resolutions that passed on a voice vote included a statement "warning that China's peaceful rise might not be peaceful," a call for a repeal of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, a sense of the committee that U.S. military morale needs to be restored, a new pro-life strategy, a resolution on "taking back public lands," and a recognition of the pact between the U.S. and Taiwan.
Also today, Priebus and Michigan GOP chairman Bobby Schostak issued a joint statement calling on national committeeman Dave Agema to resign for comments about gays and Muslims that have included defending Russia's anti-gay laws as "common sense."