RNC chairman: ‘March for Life was a little bit of a wake-up call’
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 7, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that attending the 2014 March for Life gave him “a little bit of a wake-up call” about the fact that the Republican Party needs to lay greater emphasis on its commitment to the pro-life cause.
Priebus, who was speaking with a group of bloggers and reporters at CPAC, told LifeSiteNews that while “our party has to grow where we're weak...we also have to grow where we're strong. I think that sometimes we spend too much talking about where we're weak."
"We wanted to remind people about where we stand on life, we went to the March for Life, as an RNC. And I will tell you, personally – which is something I don't think I've shared a whole lot – the RNC going to the March for Life, for me, was a little bit of a wake-up call for me as chairman.”
(Listen to an audio recording of Priebus' answers here.)
Priebus allowed members of the RNC who wanted to attend the 2014 March for Life in Washington, D.C., to do so before the GOP's annual winter meeting.
“Here I am, the chairman of a pro-life party...and I got all this appreciation,” Priebus said. “But it was the appreciation that sort of woke me up to say, 'Why are these folks so appreciative of something that I thought was a pretty easy decision to make?'”
Priebus said that the gratitude of pro-life organizations brought a whole new realization. “I thought to myself, 'If these folks are this appreciative of something so simple, maybe we need to start reminding people about the core positions of our party more, so that we can grow in places where we're strong.'”
"Sometimes, the best fruit is right above your head," he said.
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While Priebus did say that the RNC doesn't typically get involved with direct policy – “we're a campaign organization,” he told LifeSiteNews – he also told Breeanne Howe of Red State that the RNC is not shying away from the issue of life. “We brought on a full-time faith engagement program at the RNC, and we've got full-time people going across the country talking to people of faith of all faith backgrounds, registering voters, working with different other groups – like Paster and Pews – and others, and challenging pastors, too, across the country, that church can't just be vanilla ice cream and cotton candy on Sunday morning, either. There is joint responsibility in talking about issues of faith.”
Priebus says he challenges pastors to stand up for what's right. “I tell a lot of pastors sometimes, in groups like this, 'I got a deal for ya. I'll be as strong on these social issues as you're willing to be on Sunday morning.' How about that deal?”
Priebus declined to criticize CPAC over what Howe said was its “[dropping] the issue of life this year.” He said that he “[does not] speak for CPAC, and [is not] going to criticize CPAC for the decisions they make that I'm not a part of or don't understand, but as far as our party, we're a pro-life party, and I'm not shying away from that at all.”
In 2012, the Republican Party's formal platform said the GOP “support[s] a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children.”
Priebus also said that the GOP is “a party that believes marriage ought to be between one man and one woman. That's our party platform, and it's a position I've never backed away from. What I have said, though, is that we need to treat each other with grace, dignity, and respect. And that's not code language. It comes out of the New Testament. And so there should be no confusion about where we stand, and so that's where we are.”
However, he demurred when asked by National Review Online's Betsy Woodruff on whether he would “hope to be reminding people of” the party's position on same-sex “marriage” more often.
“I'm not walking on down the street, but if someone wants to ask me, like you did, I didn't dance” around the issue, either, the chairman said. “I answered the question head-on, I'm very clear, and that's what you should expect out of the party.”
The discussion, which lasted 35 minutes, included a great deal of analysis about the party's primary system, an effort to get the RNC up-to-speed on digital data and other performance metrics (the party has long acknowledged its technology gap compared with Democrats), and changing the debate format to better fit with the party's needs. This includes having fewer debates and choosing better moderators, Priebus said.