By Justin Sink
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus is calling on the party to compete in every state across the country, as he unveils a major overhaul in response to November’s election.
"We must compete in every state and every region, building relationships with communities we haven’t before," Priebus plans to say in excerpts of a speech to be delivered Friday.
“We have four years till the next presidential election, and being a 'blue state' is not a permanent diagnosis," he plans to say.
Priebus will give the speech as RNC members gather in Charlotte, N.C., for the party's Winter Meeting. It comes as Republicans are scrambling to reboot following a 2012 election cycle that saw Democrats retain the White House, gain seats in the Senate and win a majority of ballots cast in House races.
Among Priebus's other goals, according to excerpts of the speech, are developing "the best technology with the help of the best minds"; articulating the party's core principles "in ways that are modern"; and "seiz[ing] the lead" with digital operations.
"In order to do all this, we need to empower, equip and train our candidates, volunteers, and operatives ... whether it’s a college activist recruiting volunteers in Pasadena or a small businesswoman running for town council in New Jersey," Priebus will say. "Let’s host Skype-based training sessions and Google hangouts on campaign strategy, fundraising, door-to-door advocacy, and digital tools. We need to give the next generation of organizers access to the brightest experts."
In many ways, Priebus's model mirrors that pursued by Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) after George W. Bush was reelected president in 2004. Dean directed the DNC then with the explicit goal of organizing within every voting precinct, using young candidates and new technology to extend the party's base. His strategy was partially credited with Democrats retaking the House and Senate in 2006.
Republicans face a steep road to recovery. In a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last week, 49 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of the party — the highest figure since 2008.
Moreover, President Obama's campaign infrastructure was thought to be technologically and structurally superior on Election Day. Last weekend, Democrats announced plans to keep that organization in place with the creation of a legacy nonprofit group to be led by the president's former campaign manager, Jim Messina.
But Priebus is optimistic that the GOP will bounce back.
"The good news is our principles are sound. We stand for opportunity and for liberty. Freedom is always a new idea — an ever-fresh, revolutionary idea," he plans to say.
Already, the RNC has begun soliciting ideas for how to best move the party forward. On Wednesday, Priebus launched a new website to solicit grassroots ideas on how to repair the party's image, encouraging supporters to complete a survey on how the GOP should proceed.
“I am very pleased to unveil the Growth and Opportunities website to our RNC members here in Charlotte. The work of our grassroots activists has always been an important aspect of the party, and listening to their ideas will continue be an asset in developing a solid path forward,” Priebus said in a statement. “The website will help facilitate a dialogue between our Republican activists, RNC members and other party leaders."