RNC head seeks to shore up party support as Donald Trump divides

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The chairman of the Republican National Committee tried to shore up faith in his organization at a conference of conservative activists here, promising the crowd that the party infrastructure would fully back the GOP nominee for president.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., Reince Priebus was in damage control mode, laying out the role of the RNC, which he said is focused on building the infrastructure and ground game to allow a Republican candidate to win the presidency in November.

“There is nothing controversial about a national party that has its act together when it comes to a ground game and data. We were embarrassed in 2012. We were reading everyone people bragging about what Barack Obama did on the ground. We have to do the same thing,” Priebus told the crowd.

“Whether you’re for Ted Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Trump, they need to have a national party that has its act together and that’s what we’re all about,” he added.

Considered by many to be the center of the party establishment, Priebus at time faced a cold crowd. He was booed when he said the GOP Congress has not been able to shepherd Republican priorities into law because President Barack Obama is in the White House.

This week’s meeting of conservative activists, many of them disenchanted with the party orthodoxy, comes as a growing rift has emerged in the Republican Party over Donald Trump’s surging candidacy.

Priebus underscored that the RNC will provide “full backing and 100 percent support” to the party’s nominee.

“Whoever the majority chooses is going to be the nominee of the party. That’s our pledge to you,” he said.

Priebus dismissed current predictions of a brokered convention in Cleveland as “early talk.” He estimated the odds of a contested gathering in July as “very small,” placing the likelihood at 10 percent or 15 percent.

He said it was better for candidates to focus on winning states instead of pushing a brokered convention, a strategy former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney advocated for in a blistering criticism of Trump yesterday.

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that...