Republican National Committee Chairman is warning Republicans against accepting President Obama’s threats of executive amnesty as a reason to move forward on immigration reform and says Congress should avoid addressing major issues until GOP reinforcements arrive in January.
“I just want to make sure that he doesn’t use executive amnesty – which I believe is an illegal, false choice – in order to push some other type of amnesty that I don’t believe is appropriate either,” Priebus told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview in his office at RNC headquarters.
Republicans in Congress, he said, should hold off major issues other than “a continuing resolution, and things such as that” rather than “cutting major policy deals in a lame duck with people that have just been voted out of office.”
The Wisconsin native, fresh off a election day win that surprised even the most optimistic Republicans in its scope, is weighing a third-term at the helm of the party committee as the gears begin to turn on a vast 2016 effort to defeat Hillary Clinton.
Despite major inroads on campaign mechanics, including significant data efforts, Priebus has estimated the committee will need $100 million to adapt just the technological infrastructure for the larger scale of a presidential contest.
“The question is: can we raise the funds here and recruit the talent around the country early enough to compete and win a big cultural vote in this country? That’s what keeps me up at night,” Priebus said.
Priebus’ foray into legislative politics is notable because he has worked to explain the RNC’s role as a tool of winning elections more than providing ideological guidance on the direction of the party.
For instance, he recounted a conservative activist in New Hampshire recently who told him, “hey, you guys keep giving us these candidates that we don’t like for president” frequently hears that the GOP “better not run so-and-so.”
“Listen, I don’t get to choose – you do!” Priebus said.
“I’m hoping that folks out in the states and at the grassroots level at least see that we’re trying to build a competent national party that isn’t involved in primaries, but a party that, no matter who wins the primary, has a steam train they can tap into on the ground and through data to help their candidates win. No matter who that candidate is, whether it be Cochran or McDaniel, you know, we don’t care. We just want to make sure the infrastructure is competent when they plug into it,” he added.
With a debate building in the GOP over how to handle Obama’s vows to pursue executive amnesty despite the electoral thumping, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) cited Priebus’s remarks in October that Republicans would do “everything we can” to stop it to urge Speaker John Boehner and incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to stand strong.
Priebus doesn’t mind that Sessions put his remarks in the spotlight, he said: “I said what I said and I’m fine with what Sen. Sessions did.”
And now that it’s after the election, he’s sticking to the same script.
“My point would be on this executive amnesty, that number one we ought to stop it at all costs and not allow the president to do it at all costs, either legislatively or through the courts, but secondly, we not allow the president to use executive amnesty to bring us to the negotiation table, because I think it’s inappropriate, and it’s wrong, and it’s illegal,” Priebus said.
On the broader agenda for the GOP, Priebus said Republican lawmakers need to promptly develop an agenda that shows they deserve a majority.
“Leadership in the House and the Senate need to develop an agenda that’s achievable, that is true to the principles of this party, that can be done fairly quickly, so that people who people who voted for this Republican majority can be validated that they did the right thing and that there are some good positive things happening in Washington,” he said, adding, “I think John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are very committed to that.”
Regarding Obama, Priebus said the president’s inability to listen to voters is unbelievable.
“He is showing an unbelievably stubborn propensity to do everything by himself, including alienating his own party,” Priebus said.