GOP leader Reince Priebus: Our primary system is a "complete disaster"

Republican National Committee head wants to give Republican candidates fewer opportunities to embarrass themselves

Published March 16, 2014 5:18PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Speaking on a phone call with a group of California Republicans on Friday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus vowed that changes to the GOP's presidential primary process would fix a system that had become a "complete disaster."

Arguing that his plan to reduce the number of presidential debates for the 2016 presidential primary is "not an establishment takeover," Priebus said changing his party's nomination system is simply about "using your brain."

"Everything's not a conspiracy," he added.

"I think a traveling circus of debates is insanity in this party," Priebus went on to say to about 200 delegates. "We're proposing to have fewer than 10 and, this time around, we're going to pick the moderators." During the 2012 nomination process, Republican presidential candidates held no fewer than 27 debates.

More from the Associated Press (via the Huffington Post):

The chairman also touted a key victory this week in a hard-fought Florida congressional race that is seen as a possible bellwether of November midterm election. Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a special election Tuesday that largely turned on President Barack Obama's health care law.

"By the way, people still hate Obamacare, and that helped," he said to laughter.

Republicans are trying to catch up to the high-tech operations that Democrats used to elect Obama in both 2008 and 2012. Priebus said the GOP has an office in the San Francisco Bay Area city of San Mateo that is building a $35 million data platform to help candidates.

He said he is trying to convert the party from one that showed up "for five months once every four years," into one that works year-round and can invest in competitive governor's races and congressional races in every state.

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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