Entries in RNC (96)


RNC's New Program Seeking New Followers

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The "GO" in GOP now stands for "Growth and Opportunity."

Republicans, still stung by losing the White House in November as well as failing to capture the Senate, are ready, willing and able to hear what Americans have to say to improve their chances during the 2014 mid-term elections and in 2016.

That's why as part of its winter strategy session, the Republican National Committee has unveiled its  "Growth and Opportunity Project," an attempt to attract more women, minorities and young people who are firmly in the Democratic camp.

A website has been set up to get ideas from Americans as well as to listen to their criticisms about the GOP.

Among the questions posted by the RNC are, "Do you think the Republican Party shares your values?" and "Do you think the Republican Party listens to voters like you?"

The RNC also lists five areas where the party feels it needs to improve in order to be more inclusive of a changing U.S. electorate.

What's more, the site features a short video of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus soliciting questions from potential new followers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Reince Priebus Seeks Return as RNC Chairman

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON ) -- Reince Priebus will run for another term as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

A source close to Priebus’ chairmanship campaign confirmed his decision to ABC News.

The RNC selects its chairman every two years at its winter meetings in January.

Priebus was elected chairman in January 2011 at the Gaylord resort in National Harbor, Md., after seven rounds of voting. He succeeded the embattled Michael Steele, who dropped his bid after four rounds of voting, and also beat out former Missouri GOP chairwoman Ann Wagner, former Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis, and former Bush administration official Maria Cino.

He took over after Steele left the party saddled with debt and embroiled in controversy over his leadership. An uproar over young donors at a bondage-themed Los Angeles nightclub, on the RNC’s dime, had not helped things. The party did, however, make historic gains under Steele’s tenure, re-taking the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterms.

Priebus will seek re-election after a tough year for the party, which not only saw Mitt Romney lose to President Obama, but which also fell well short of expectations in down-ballot races. Democrats gained two Senate seats in a cycle that initially Republicans were hopeful of gaining the Senate majority.

Priebus’ tenure, however, has been marked by little controversy, especially compared with Steele’s, and a big GOP victory in his home state of Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker boosted Republicans nationally by surviving a Democratic recall challenge.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Marco Rubio Calls Romney’s I-Wish-I-Were-Latino Comment ‘a Joke’

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called Mitt Romney’s I-wish-I-were-Latino comment, which came to light in a leaked videotape this week, a “joke.”

“I think he meant it as a joke,” Rubio said on a conference call organized by the Republican National Committee, adding that’s “how most reasonable people would take it.”

Romney was shown on a hidden-camera video clip posted by Mother Jones magazine telling his audience at a May 17 fundraiser in Florida about his father’s background.

“My dad, you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company,” Romney said. “But he was born in Mexico, and had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years. And, I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”

As it turns out, Romney made a similar reference -- publicly -- in January in an interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos.

Although Romney’s week has been dominated by coverage of the leaked video, he has also been spending time courting Latino voters. The GOP nominee is campaigning in Florida on Wednesday and Thursday, and his campaign has deployed Rubio in a new television ad airing in Florida focused on Medicare.

When asked whether the Romney-Ryan ticket was on the right course to win on Nov. 6, Rubio said, “I just feel confident about the message we’re putting out there.”

Rubio also said he sensed “increasing enthusiasm as we get closer to Election Day” and drew a contrast -- the same one that Romney campaign officials are seeking to make this week -- between what Rubio called the prevailing view of the state of the race inside “the political universe” vs. “out in the rest of the world.”

In the “rest of the world,” Rubio said, people are “increasingly realizing we can turn this thing around pretty quickly” if we “do a few simple but important things.”

“That realization is going to turn into enthusiasm and that enthusiasm is going to turn into turnout that’s going to help us get over the top.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


RNC Raises $35 Million, Breaks August Fundraising Record

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican National Committee raised more than $35.6 million in August, marking the best August on record for the RNC, a spokesperson with the committee confirms to ABC News.

Both the RNC and the campaigns will file their monthly fundraising reports on Thursday, but this also marks a record breaking cycle for the RNC. They have raised more than $193 million, a record, although the Obama campaign and the DNC did best the Republicans in the most recent fundraising month.

“We’ve enjoyed a lot of support from voters across America and it’s helping us run a top-notch get out the vote effort that is going toe-to-toe with Obama,” RNC spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski said.

This news comes just one day after we learned the Romney campaign had to take out a $20 million dollar line of credit last month, marking the first time in the cycle Romney’s campaign was in debt. They are $11 million in debt after borrowing the $20 million from the Bank of Georgetown.

Earlier this month, President Obama and the Democratic National Committee reported raising over $114 million in August together. They bested the Romney campaign and the RNC, whose joint total was $111 million.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Clint Eastwood Explains Empty-Chair Speech

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In his first interview since the infamous invisible Obama empty chair routine that transfixed the Republican National Convention last month, Clint Eastwood says the Romney campaign didn’t know what he was going to say and he didn’t come up with the empty chair idea until he was about to go on stage.

“They vet most of the people, but I told them, ‘You can’t do that with me, because I don’t know what I’m going to say,’” Eastwood told the Carmel Pine Cone of Carmel, California.

He says he came up with the idea to interview an absent Obama just before taking the stage.

“There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down,” Eastwood said. “When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea. I’ll just put the stool out there and I’ll talk to Mr. Obama and ask him why he didn’t keep all of the promises he made to everybody.”

The only person he told about the idea was the stage hand, he said.

“The guy said, ‘You mean you want it at the podium?’ and I said, ‘No, just put it right there next to it.’”

Eastwood said he’s not used to giving speeches, but in his estimation, that was supposed to be part of his draw for independent voters that might be watching.

“It was supposed to be a contrast with all the scripted speeches, because I’m Joe Citizen,” Eastwood said. “I’m a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there,” he said.

Check out the entire interview from the Carmel Pine Cone.

Watch Eastwood’s empty chair speech:

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Still ‘a Huge Clint Eastwood Fan’ After Ribbing

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- President Barack Obama says the ribbing Clint Eastwood gave him at the Republican National Convention last week doesn’t mean he won’t watch his movies.

“I am a huge Clint Eastwood fan,” the president said in an interview excerpt released Sunday.

“He is a great actor, and an even better director,” he continued. “I think the last few movies that he’s made have been terrific.”

USA Today asked the president about Eastwood’s participation at the GOP convention while Obama was traveling to Iowa on Saturday. The interview will be fully released on the publication’s website Monday and in print Tuesday.

Eastwood was a much-hyped mystery speaker at the three-day long event, rousing the crowd in a 12-minute oratory that included a satirical “interview” with Obama, in the form of an empty chair. The president said he didn’t hold a grudge against the blunt performance, which some considered borderline vulgar.

“One thing about being president or running for president — if you’re easily offended, you should probably choose another profession,” the president said.

Obama said not to expect any similar acts at the upcoming Democratic convention this week in North Carolina.

“I think we’ll be playing this pretty straight,” he said.

Most of the president’s surrogates on Sunday morning’s political talk shows largely reflected his stance, with few directly criticizing the Hollywood legend. On ABC’s “This Week,” senior adviser David Plouffe said, “We’re all Clint Eastwood fans here in the Obama campaign.”

“The president, myself, we all, I think, everyone in America thinks he’s been an amazing actor and director and an American treasure,” he told George Stephanopoulos. “I do think the Romney campaign would probably not, three days after their convention, still having questions raised about Clint Eastwood. So you’ll have to ask them how that all went down.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney’s Speech Is ‘Locked’ Hours Before He Takes the RNC Stage

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Mitt Romney’s speech is “locked” and ready to go, a top campaign adviser told ABC News, previewing the acceptance speech Romney will deliver Thursday night as the Republican National Convention comes to a close.

According to the adviser, Romney has been working on the text for “a couple of weeks,” drafting it, in part, on the iPad he carries with him everywhere on the campaign trail.

Allowing for the possibility that the Republican nominee may make a few minor last-minute changes, the adviser said it is otherwise “pretty locked.”

The speech is divided into four parts: Romney’s philosophical and world view; his biography; his disappointment with the Obama years; and his vision for the country.

Before the speech, convention organizers plan to show a video presentation featuring Romney. In it, “Governor Romney talks about love,” the adviser said.

Thursday night’s theme is “We Believe in America,” and the evening will offer a chance for the campaign to deal head-on with two aspects of Romney’s personal story: His record at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he helped start, and his Mormon faith.

Two campaign surrogates -- Romney’s close friend Bob White, who serves as the chairman of the campaign and who helped establish Bain, and Tom Stemberg, the founder of Staples, a Bain-backed company -- plan to specifically address Romney’s time at the firm and his private sector experience.

“We know that the Democrats want to try to make Bain a negative for us,” one Romney campaign strategist told ABC News. “It’s not.”

In addition to the surrogates, the Romney campaign plans to feature some videos calling into question Democrats’ support for America’s small businesses, and the campaign will also unveil a new portion of their website devoted to Romney’s record at Bain.

Romney’s faith will also be front and center on Thursday night.  Grant Bennett, a friend of Romney’s and a fellow member of the Mormon church, will address the convention. And although Romney’s religion will be a key part of Thursday night’s program, it’s unclear to what extent speakers -- including Romney himself -- will discuss faith generally rather than Mormonism in particular.

Asked whether the word “Mormon” would be uttered Thursday evening, the Romney adviser said, “I can’t believe it won’t be uttered in the faith section,” but declined to say whether it will make an appearance in Romney’s speech.

Romney’s achievements as governor of Massachusetts will also be on display Thursday night. His former lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey, will give voice to those years.

The night will feature a parade of Olympic athletes who will highlight Romney’s time as the head of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.  Olympic hockey player Mike Eruzione of “Miracle on Ice” fame; Kimberly Rhode, who won the gold medal in skeet shooting at the 2012 Summer Games in London; and speed skater Derek Parra, who medaled in the 2002 Games, will all speak.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will kick off the 10 p.m. hour and introduce Romney.

Thursday night’s program will end with not one but three balloon drops as Romney, his wife, Ann and their family and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, his wife Janna and their family take the stage in successive waves.

Just before the final benediction led by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, the singer Bebe Winans and the Tampa Bay City Life Church Chorus will lead the entire convention hall in singing “America the Beautiful.”

Romney’s off-key, solo rendition of the patriotic tune at a primary campaign event in a Florida retirement community was used in an Obama campaign attack ad.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Soundcheck Points to Clint Eastwood Cameo at RNC; Planners Stay Mum

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Republicans have not yet officially confirmed the identity of the “mystery speaker” who will appear before Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio during primetime Thursday night.

In the 10 p.m. hour of Thursday night’s Republican National Convention, a six-minute chunk of time between Rubio’s speech and Romney’s speech has been allotted for “applause.” That’s plenty of time for a standing ovation and a five-minute speech from Clint Eastwood, the respected director and long-ago star of Dirty Harry.

All week, the buzz in Tampa has been that Eastwood would make a cameo appearance, and Thursday offered what may be an important audio clue that those expectations are correct.

During a soundcheck for the night’s activities, the distinctive whistling theme to The Good the Bad and the Ugly, an Eastwood Western, was played in the convention hall.

Earlier Thursday, Romney staffers refused to address the subject.

“Because if it was a mystery speaker, it wouldn’t be a mystery anymore,” said Romney adviser Russ Schriefer on a conference call with reporters.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Billionaire Donors Hide Behind Velvet Curtain at Republican Convention

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When oil and chemical baron David Koch took his seat among the throngs of Republican grassroots activists on the convention floor in Tampa this week, he was making a rare appearance on behalf of the small group of wealthy donors who are bankrolling a good portion of Mitt Romney's bid for president.

For the past several days in Tampa, Koch has been the exception. Most of the deep-pocketed donors -- the ones fundraising consultants call "the whales" -- have spent the convention largely out of sight.

Unlike Koch, they have watched the parade of speakers at the convention podium from high above, in a vast luxury skybox on the fourth and fifth levels of the Tampa Times Forum. Their box was cordoned off by ropes and blocked from public view by a velvet curtain.

The lofty perch, with its leather sofas, flowing liquor, and platters of food, offers a potent symbol of the enhanced role in the 2012 campaign for the wealthiest donors, according to Charles Lewis, an academic and campaign watchdog who has monitored the role of money in politics for years.

"It's where we are in American politics," Lewis said. "We have billionaires giving unprecedented sums and we have levels of secrecy never seen in the contemporary historic era."

Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law School professor who has been tracking money in the 2012 elections, said he has calculated that 47 individual Americans have given 42 percent of the money in this year's presidential campaign. "We have never had an election, in the last hundred years, that has had this type of money," he said.

That phenomenon has been most evident with a group of $1 million supporters of the Romney campaign called the "Victory Council." While the Romney campaign has kept the identities of his top-level fundraising team a secret, ABC News has been able to track their movements throughout the convention, and has slowly begun to identify them.

This week, the "Victory Council" has gathered in private receptions at museums and in hotel suites during the day, and attended the convention in a private suite at night. Thursday, they received a morning political briefing from Romney's senior staff, and then were whisked in SUVs to a private luncheon with Romney at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club.

Reporters were held well back from the scene, as the candidate's motorcade pulled in shortly after 11 a.m. Among those spotted by ABC News was Wilbur Ross, a Palm Beach billionaire who oversees the private equity firm W.L. Ross and Co. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that Ross has given $470,000 in contributions in his time as a political donor.

On Wednesday, the group gathered aboard a 150-foot yacht moored at St. Petersburg Municipal Marina. Those attending included Ron Weiser, the campaign's national finance chairman and the former ambassador to Slovakia under President George W. Bush, Virginia developer Bob Pence, independent oil and gas producer Charles Moncrief, Georgia-based investment advisor Greg Schwartz, Sr. and Richard W. Boyce, a former Bain colleague of Romney's.

Many of the supporters covered their name tags as they exited the event. One of them, when asked his name, began to trot to his waiting SUV.

"Can't say your name?" he was asked by ABC News.

"No. Gotta run -- thank you," he said.

Mel Sembler, a major fundraiser who was an ambassador during both the George H.W. and George W. Bush administrations, took just a moment to answer questions. Asked how much he had agreed to raise for the campaign, he replied, "We're going to raise whatever's needed."

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell attended the yacht party on Romney's behalf. After visiting with the donors, McDonnell stopped to speak with ABC News about the event. He said he had no problem with the fundraising efforts, because they were consistent with the campaign finance laws today.

"Four years ago Barack Obama raised twice as much as the Republicans and this year I think it's going to be an even finance approach to this thing," McDonnell said. "Both sides are going to have equal money to get the message out."

The latest numbers show Romney outpacing Obama in fundraising. The joint fund-raising committee for Romney reported $185.9 million in cash on hand at the end of July, compared to $123.7 million for Obama's joint committee.

McDonnell said that he would favor efforts to require donors to identify themselves, even if they are not required to do so in some circumstances today. "I'd like to see more sunshine on both sides …I think that's fair," he said.

While Koch had the most public presence of the major supporters in Tampa, he has been equally restrained when approached for an interview. Outside a well known Tampa steakhouse, Koch was asked about his role in raising money for the campaign. He hustled to his car silently, a bodyguard jostling the ABC News camera crew that followed.

The billionaire delegate from New York was equally restrained with his remarks around reporters on the convention floor. Earlier this year, Huffington Post reported that he told a conservative gathering in California that he would commit $10 million to seeing President Obama defeated.

How much he has actually given, though, may never be known. Much of his political spending appears to be routed through nonprofit groups, most notably the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, that are not required to disclose their funders.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Camp Condemns Convention-goers’ Racist Taunts

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Since two Republican National Convention attendees were ejected for hurling racist taunts at an African American CNN camerawoman, the Romney campaign has been in repeated contact with the network, senior Romney campaign adviser Russ Schriefer said on a conference call with reporters Thursday morning.

Those talks have included apologies, Schriefer said.

“We thought it was absolutely deplorable. We condemn it in any way–to the highest possible way. That behavior is just reprehensible, so we have–we could not be more clear on that,” Schriefer said. “There were immediate and continued conversations and apologies with CNN did take place.”

On Wednesday, CNN reported that two people were removed from the GOP convention after they threw nuts at a CNN camerawoman, saying, “This is how we feed animals.”

The convention released a statement condemning the incident, CNN reported. It read: “Two attendees tonight exhibited deplorable behavior. Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated.”

CNN acknowledged the incident, stating, “CNN can confirm there was an incident directed at an employee inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum earlier this afternoon. CNN worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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