Election 2020

Priebus: Romney's Rules of 2012 'Will Not Apply to 2016 Convention'

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus discusses the election at CPAC on March 4, 2016, in National Harbor, Md. (Photo by Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto)

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said people can stop counting on the same rules at the 2016 convention as were in place at the 2012 election.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) often cites a 2012 rule that the nominee must have won at least eight states in the primaries to argue that Ohio Gov. John Kasich — who has won his home state — should drop out.

Rule 40 was put in place by Mitt Romney supporters who wanted to shut out Ron Paul backers at the convention.

Priebus told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that “it’s probably unlikely that you see major changes” as a whole when the RNC rules committee meets, but “the 2012 rules were written by the 2012 delegates, who were bound to Mitt Romney.”

“And so Mitt Romney’s rules of 2012 will not be the rules that apply to the 2016 convention, which will be made largely of Trump and Cruz delegates,” he said. “And why would people want the Romney delegates’ rules to apply to Cruz and Trump and Kasich? It doesn’t make any sense. So the rules committee will come together; those delegates will get on these committees; they’ll review the rules and the 2016 rules will apply to the 2016 convention.”

Making the rounds on the Sunday shows, Priebus told Fox that no one has actually broken the loyalty pledge even though all three remaining candidates said last week that they didn’t feel bound to support the eventual nominee.

“I personally think that these folks are posturing and I think that they want to be loyal to the party. I think they will be loyal to the party. But really, it’s about the people out there and respecting the voices of the folks both in the states and on the floor of the convention,” the chairman said.

“I mean, no one has broken the pledge. I mean, talking about what might be hypothetical is one thing. It is certainly not any standing — it doesn’t provide standing to do anything. It’s just a bunch of talk at this point,” he added. “But certainly, we expect that when candidates make commitments, that they keep them. And that’s about what I’m going to say about it.”

Priebus said “obviously we’re having a conversation within a small circle of people” about Donald Trump’s poor polling among groups the RNC has targeted with outreach efforts in recent years.

In a new Washington Post poll, 85 percent of Hispanics view Trump unfavorably, 80 percent of African-Americans feel that way, 80 percent of young people, and 75 percent of women.

“Tone and tenor have consequences,” Priebus said. “And it means that the challenge is in the general election will be there for us to make the message to every American no matter who they are, that our party is a door that we want them to walk through.”

The chairman told CBS’ Face the Nation that Trump “has also brought in millions of new voters to our party.”

“We’re ahead of Democrats on registration. We’ve had a 70 percent turnout increase. I mean, some of these things are historic for our party,” he said.

A new Gallup poll found that while the segment of Americans identifying as Democrat or leaning Dem was even last fall with those identifying as Republican or leaning GOP at 42 percent, the Dems have now gained the lead.

According to data amassed from daily tracking polls, 46 percent identify as Dem while 40 percent claim GOP. That’s one of the largest leads for the left in President Obama’s second term.

“I mean, I understand that we’ve got some drama on our side of the aisle that we’re going to have to contend with and we’ll be prepared to like never before, but I think if you look at the Democrats, I think they’re in for a fiasco, especially if Comey comes in and indicts Hillary Clinton and they have an open convention and who knows — I’ve heard people talking about Joe Biden coming back into the fold,” Priebus said.

“So, look, there is drama but we’re prepared and we’re going to win and we’re going to retake the White House in November.”