TIME 2016 Election

Democrats Narrow Convention to Columbus, New York or Philadelphia

US Campaign 2012
President Barack Obama onstage at the Democratic National Convention at the Time Warner Cable Arena on September 6, 2012 in Charlotte, N.C. Charles Ommanney—Getty Images

Also considering moving it earlier in the summer

The Democratic National Committee announced Monday afternoon that it had narrowed the list of finalist cities to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention to Columbus, New York and Philadelphia.

The announcement comes after a round of visits by DNC technical advisors to five semifinalist cities, including Birmingham and Phoenix. Cleveland was initially a semifinalist, but was removed from contention once it was selected earlier this year to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.

“We’re thrilled to move to the next step of the selection process to determine where Democrats will come together to nominate the 45th President of the United States,” said DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a statement. “We are fortunate to have such a diverse and vibrant group of cities interested in hosting this special event and we thank Phoenix and Birmingham for showcasing their special communities.”

The Democratic National Committee is considering three dates for the convention: the weeks of July 18, July 25, and August 22, 2016. The date and location will be finalized early next year, but indicate that Democrats are considering following Republicans in moving the convention earlier in the summer, freeing up general election dollars earlier for their eventual nominee. The Republican National Convention will start either on June 27 or July 18, 2016, according to the Republican National Committee, with a final determination expected in the new year.

Central to the DNC’s thinking as it further narrows the list will be the host city’s ability to come up with the tens of millions necessary to fund a convention, particularly now that Congress has withdrawn public financing of the quadrennial Republican and Democratic gatherings. The 2012 DNC convention in Charlotte ended up deeply in debt, with Duke Energy forgiving a $10 million loan to the host committee, despite President Barack Obama’s pledge that his convention would not accept corporate donations.

TIME Immigration

Latinos, Young Voters Applaud Obama Action On Immigration, Polls Show

Immigrants Rally To Thank Obama
Nov. 21, 2014 - Washington, District of Columbia, U.S. - Hundreds of Latino activists and families gather outside of the White House the day after Obama's immigration executive order in Washington on Nov. 21, 2014. Oliver Contreras—Zuma Press

Latino voters of both parties blame Congressional Republicans for failing to pass an immigration reform bill

The vast majority of Latinos and voters under the age of 35 support President Barack Obama’s executive action last Thursday shielding between 4 and 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, according to new national polls.

The overwhelming support from these two growing demographics may have major implications for voter turnout and party affiliation in 2016.

Almost 90% of Latino voters say they “support” or “strongly support” Obama’s executive action, according to a national poll by Latino Decisions and commissioned by two pro-immigration reform groups, Presente.org and Mi Familia Vota.

Nearly three-fourths (72%) of voters under the age of 35 supported the president’s action, according to a national poll by Hart Research Associates [PDF].

While both Latinos and young voters showed particularly strong support, 67% of all voters—both men and women from states that supported both Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012—felt favorably toward the executive action, according to the Hart Research poll. More than two-thirds of all voters were in favor of allowing the undocumented parents of children or young adults to stay in the U.S., and of providing temporary work permits to eligible immigrants.

Both polls found that voters believe Obama’s executive action is lawful. Respondents strongly disagreed with strategies, suggested by some Republicans, to fight the action: 72% of voters opposed the idea of Republicans shutting down the government until the president agrees to end the executive action, according to the Hart Research poll. (62% of Tea Party Republicans were in favor of that strategy.) Four out of five Latino voters opposed the idea of Republicans passing a bill to defund a federal program issuing work permits to undocumented workers, according to the Latino Decisions poll.

Latino support for the executive action appears to be largely bipartisan, according to Latino Decisions. While 95% of Democratic Latino voters were in favor of the executive action, 76% of Republican Latinos were as well. The issue of immigration reform remains deeply personal for many Latino voters, 64% of whom have friends, family members, coworkers, or acquaintances who are undocumented.

Sixty-four percent of Latino voters blamed Congressional Republicans for failing to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill; 24% blame Obama and Democrats, according to the Latino Decisions poll.

Insofar as Latino voters were disappointed by Obama’s executive action, the reason seems to be that it didn’t go far enough. Two-thirds (66%) of Latinos said that Obama should use additional executive orders to shield from deportation those undocumented immigrations who were not covered by last Thursday’s action, which covers only those who have not committed a crime, lived here five or more years, and are either parents of a U.S. citizen or legal resident child here in the U.S. The action does not grant them citizenship, but it does allow them to get legal work permits.

The Latino Decisions poll included 405 Latinos randomly selected from a nationwide database of registered voters. Its margin of error is +/- 4.9%. The Hart Research Associates poll surveyed 800 likely 2016 voters and had a margin of error of +/-3.5%.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary’s 2016 Campaign is Ready, Hypothetically Speaking

Hillary Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to a crowd during a campaign stop to promote Democrats in re-election bids in the east Denver suburb of Aurora, Colo. on Oct. 21, 2014. David Zalubowski—AP

Would-be surrogates tried to make the case for Hillary without admitting she's running

Hillary Clinton is almost definitely, but not certainly, going to run for president and if she does, she’ll most likely be the strongest candidate, but she could totally still lose, so Democrats shouldn’t get cocky.

That was the awkward message from would-be Clinton surrogates who were among the several hundred politicos, fundraisers and activists who showed up for a “Ready For Hillary” convention in New York Friday.

At some moments, they seemed to fall over themselves insisting that the former Secretary of State’s ascendancy should not be considered “inevitable,” while at other moments they discussed in great detail the organizational structure, fundraising and messaging efforts that are already in place to buttress her 2016 campaign.

Former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez said that ambivalence as a result of the pummeling Clinton’s campaign received six years ago, when many Democrats considered her a shoo-in as the Democratic nominee.

“In 2008, we got eviscerated by a better campaign on the ground,” he explained. “Lessons have been learned. So there has been extraordinary preparation and it’s a very, very different, far more sophisticated operation that’s there and it’s ready for her, should she decide to run.”

Adam Parkhomenko, who founded the organizational group Ready for Hillary, which has spent the last two years collecting a database of roughly 3 million supporters, echoed the sentiment.

“I wouldn’t have been doing this since January 2013 if I thought she was inevitable,” he said. “We learned in 2008 she’s not inevitable. No one’s inevitable.”

Stephanie Schriock, the head of EMILY’s List, who is expected to play a major role in a future Clinton campaign, said she looks forward to a “healthy primary.”

“As everyone goes through a presidential primary process, it’ll be the candidate who make the case,” she said, adding that Clinton, while clearly the front-runner, will not be immune to that process. “There’s nothing inevitable about 2016.”

Meanwhile, several Clinton backers, including Schriock, former Obama campaign organizer Mitch Stewart, Correct the Record’s David Brock, and political strategist Chris Lehane, spoke directly about what organizations would have to work together on the ground to make a 2016 Clinton campaign most effective, what issues Clinton would be most likely to emphasize, and what message the campaign would be built around. All agreed that a hypothetical Clinton campaign will likely to focus on working class voters, who are feeling increasingly marginalized in today’s economy.

Clinton must project a vision for “economic opportunity for American families,” said Schriock. That’s a phrase she used, with slight variations, twice more during a half-hour talk with reporters. The campaign will likely focus on connecting with working class voters, women, Hispanics and the African American community over issues like equal pay, minimum wage and leveling the playing field for the middle class, she said.

Nina Turner, an Ohio state senator, said that a Clinton campaign could easily motivate key voting blocs, like the African American community, by staking progressive positions on issues like prison reform or creating more economic opportunities for the working poor. But, she said, “This is not about a coronation for anybody.”

Stewart agreed that “a hypothetical Clinton campaign” would have to focus primarily economic issues. “We have to come up with an economic message that shows working class voters that we’re on their side,” said Stewart.

When asked what issues would put Clinton in the strongest position against other potential Democratic contenders, such Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, or Jim Webb, who announced yesterday that he was exploring the possibility of running, Stewart demurred. “I’m not going to comment on any hypothetical candidate,” said Stewart, laughing. “Except my specific hypothetical candidate.”

TIME 2016 Election

Jim Webb is Running

Meet the Press - Season 67
Former Sen. Jim Webb, left, and moderator Chuck Todd, right, appear on Meet the Press in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. William B. Plowman—NBC/Getty Images

He's a long shot, but could give Hillary heartburn

With all the impact of a sparrow’s feather landing in the forest, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb announced the formation of a 2016 presidential exploratory committee last night. He did it in a video and letter sent to supporters. He thus becomes the first official challenger to Hillary Clinton, who has not yet gone exploratory, on the Democratic side.

Webb is interesting. He is not your standard-issue politician. He is a decorated former Marine, perhaps the best war novelist of the Vietnam generation, Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan. His one term in the Senate was protean, with Webb focusing on issues as diverse as the reestablishment of relations with Burma, and prison reform, and the new GI bill for Iraq-Afghanistan veterans.

He will be a refreshing presence on the campaign trail. He doesn’t talk like a politician. He can be blunt and combative. He has taken strong populist economic stands and was a strong opponent of the war in Iraq. In fact, Webb goes in strong whenever he takes a stand. He’ll certainly be fun to watch during debates (he was a boxer at Annapolis).

You’d have to call him a longshot, of course. But I suspect he’ll be one of those long shots who have the power to shape a campaign with new ideas and sharp arguments. He will certainly cause Clinton some populist agita, should she run.

TIME 2016 Election

Jim Webb Announces Exploratory Committee for a Presidential Run

Then Sen. Jim Webb at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, in 2012.
Then-Sen. Jim Webb at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, in 2012. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

And so it begins.

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb announced late Wednesday that he was forming an exploratory committee to run for President.

The Senator, a Vietnam veteran who was elected in 2006 for a single term as a Democrat, had announced in 2012 that he was retiring from politics. Now, he’s the first potential candidate to announce an exploratory committee, which will allow him to raise funds and test the waters for a run for the White House.

“We desperately need to fix our country, and to reinforce the values that have sustained us, many of which have fallen by the wayside in the nasty debates of the last several years,” Webb says in a 14-minute video explaining his decision, in which he brandishes his cross-aisle experience working in the Reagan administration. “I hope you will consider joining me in that effort.”

The Senator raised his national profile in 2006, weeks after taking office, when he gave his party’s response to President George W. Bush’s State of the Union.

TIME 2016 Election

Republican Governors Blast President Obama’s Immigration Plans

Rick Perry
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a conservative rally in Smithfield, N.C. on Oct. 24, 2014. Gerry Broome—AP

Without any announced candidacies, Republican governors appear to be jockeying for position in 2016

BOCA RATON, Fla.

As President Barack Obama prepares to announce executive action on immigration reform in a Thursday evening primetime address to the nation, he is already facing criticism from many of his would-be replacements.

At the annual retreat of the Republican Governors Association, a cohort of governors eyeing bids at the White House blasted Obama’s planned announcement even as they were silent on any counter-proposals to address the President’s concerns. The immigration debate, operatives in both parties say, is likely to be front-and-center in 2016.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence called Obama’s forthcoming announcement a “profound mistake.” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called it “the height of arrogance for this president to go around the Congress.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said someone should sue to stop it. Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that his state would.

But the governors were by-and-large loath to offer their own vision for how to address the nation’s immigration issues. In 2013, after the party’s 2012 defeat, the Republican National Committee identified immigration reform as a must-pass issue for the GOP. But the GOP successfully bet on an older, whiter electorate in 2014 to justify the delay internally. House Republicans have refused to take up a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013, a move that Obama has said prompted his unilateral action.

The only apparent consensus among the governors was that Obama was going down the wrong path and should first deal with securing the border. “You will not get Americans to support an immigration reform bill until—not together, but until—the border is secure,” Perry said.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he would wait to see what Obama announced before weighing in. “We will have to wait and see what he says and what he does and what the legal implications are,” he said.

The governors encouraged congressional Republicans to avoid a government funding show-down this December over Obama’s immigration actions, saying a shutdown would be counterproductive. Christie said he has “confidence” in Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader-elect Mitch McConnell can keep the government open. “All this kind of hysteria about shutdown to me is just people wanting to make news,” Christie added. “I wouldn’t push a shutdown, I think you go to court,” Walker said.

Pence called on Republicans to use the budget process to push back against Obama’s action. “The president has an opportunity now to work with the Congress after it convenes in January and to find a piece-by-piece approach in dealing with the issue of immigration reform,” he said. “The power of the Congress is the power of the purse.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday the action would affect “millions,” while advocates familiar with the action say roughly five million will be affected.

Asked about specific immigration reform proposals, Christie repeatedly declined to weigh in. “If I run [for president], we’ll see,” he said. “If I were to run for president, I would then articulate the basis for my candidacy.”

Only Kasich explicitly stated he was open to a pathway to citizenship for those in the U.S. illegally. “I’m open to it, I will tell you that,” he said.

“There already is a path to citizenship in this country and I would suggest it shouldn’t be changed,” Perry said, breaking with Kasich.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Kasich Takes the Stage

John Kasich
Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks to supporters at the Ohio Republican Party celebration in Columbus, Ohio on Nov. 4, 2014. Tony Dejak—AP

After resounding re-election, the Ohio governor looks to his next campaign.

Less than a week after a rousing, victorious ending to one campaign, newly re-elected Ohio Gov. John Kasich looks as if he’s preparing for another, this time on the national stage.

Throughout his first term as governor, the Republican struggled to manage the complicated politics of his swing state, taking criticism from the left for scaling back the influence of public sector unions and from the right for accepting federal money from Obamacare to expand Medicaid. But his do-it-my-way message worked. Three years ago, Kasich was so unpopular his re-election was a longshot. On Tuesday, he won by 32 percentage points in one of the most politically polarized states in the nation, making inroads with women and minorities across the state, as he scooped up independent votes.

The performance instantly made Kasich a presidential contender—donors are already reaching out with invitations and Republican groups are inviting him to speak. Kasich, 62, isn’t shying away from the attention, but he’s not in a hurry either. Speaking with TIME Monday afternoon, the Governor said he wasn’t ready to decide whether to run for the White House. But he showed signs he is seriously considering it: in the coming months, for example, Kasich will launch a national campaign in support of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, just the sort of crypto-campaign that can test the presidential waters and build a national brand.

Kasich ran unsuccessfully for president once before, in 2000. At the time, he was a 16-year incumbent in the House of Representatives and Chairman of the House Budget Committee, and his campaign never gained traction: he bowed out even before the Iowa Straw Poll as George W. Bush dominated attention of the political and donor classes.

If he runs again, Kasich would likely find it easier to gain traction in a crowded, but divided field. That’s due in part to the good fortune Ohio has seen over the last few years. Though his re-election was buoyed by the implosion of his Democratic opponent’s scandal-plagued campaign in August, Kasich also took credit for the state’s booming economy.

In an interview with TIME, Kasich talked about his victory, what he hopes to accomplish in his second term, and how he’s working to maintain work-life balance as he contemplates his political future.

You won re-election by 32 points…in Ohio. How did that happen?

Kasich: I think that we had a program that covered really—I like to call it the 360 program. We build a stronger economy; help with tax cuts and some reform of regulations, and balancing budgets and all of that. The economy is so much stronger than when I came in four years ago. And in addition to that, once the economy’s strong, which is the most important thing you can do, then you have an obligation to help the people I like to say live in the shadows. So, whether it’s the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the working poor, we’ve been able to get insurance for families that have an autistic child, the developmentally disabled have been helped. Minorities feel now—I can’t speak for all of them—but a number of the leaders feel there is a place for them. So everyone was included, Ohio is doing better, and I think it’s become a lot more united. And I think as a result of that, that’s why you get results. We’re basically an ideas administration. We don’t rest on our laurels, we don’t play a lot of politics. We look at problems, try to fix them, and come up with new and cool things that’ll help the state.

How would you classify your politics? Are you preaching compassionate conservativism?

Kasich: Well no one’s ever been able to put me in a box and I’m not about to start putting myself in there.

What does your re-election mean for Ohio and its politics?

I don’t think there’s a sea change. People today, not just in Ohio, but in the country, they want solutions. They want to believe that things are going to get better. We have for the first time in a dozen years 60% of Ohioans feel that the state is headed in the right direction. I think it should not be interpreted as anything other than you ought to come to Ohio, you gotta tell people what you want to do and how their lives are going to be improved. And whoever does the best job of that is the person who’s going to have the best results.

What’s your top priority for the second term?

Kasich: It’s going to be a lot more of the same. It’s job creation, making sure that our safety net programs are only a net and not a trap. That they have to provide an opportunity for people to get on their feet. Continuing to include all Ohioans in what we do. It’s education, it’s workforce, it’s reforming higher ed. We can chew gum and walk at the same time out here. We’ll have a very expansive agenda.

Your victory is already starting talk about you running for president in 2016.

Kasich: Well, what I’m excited about is that people are showing a lot of interest in the things that we’ve done out here, and I think that’s good. That makes me happy—it’s pleasing to me, I should say—that people are going to take a very hard look at what we’re doing here. And I think the process of being hopeful, being really opportunity oriented, not just in rhetoric but in action, showing that no one get’s left behind, not just by talking about it but by doing it, I think is really a key. And not just sitting around with your finger in the air trying to figure out who’s going to like what you do. Take into account where the public is, but lead, lead. Don’t try to just figure out what the polls say, what the poll-driven programs are. I mean, I don’t look at polls, I pay no attention to them. I’m going to pay attention to the public, and the sense of where the public is on certain things, but you have to lead. And so I’m pleased that as a result of this—it was really an unbelievable win—that people are going to start to say how did it happen. And they are saying it now. It gives me a chance to talk about what I think public life ought to be about, which is to lift everyone. It’s not about what your party is, it’s not about which group do you appeal to, it’s about being in this and trying to build and trying to lift everyone, regardless of who they are, regardless of whether they vote for you. That’s not the point of this business.

Do you think too many politicians are too focused on the polls?

Kasich: Why don’t you decide that.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker appeared to criticize you over the weekend for taking Medicaid expansion funding. How do you defend it?

Kasich: I don’t defend it, I’m for it. I’m not defending anything.

Have you seen those comments?

Kasich: No, I really don’t have any reaction—I haven’t seen these comments, it wouldn’t matter if I did see them. You know, we’re doing what we’re doing here in Ohio, and it’s working for people. It’s helping people, it’s lifting people, and that’s what I’m so comfortable with and very pleased about.

So you’d use a presidential campaign to spread your message?

Kasich: I’m going to be spreading it one way or another. I’m going to be out campaigning aggressively for a balanced budget amendment, I assume I’m going to be making some speeches, where people are going to want to say ‘tell us what you did.’ And, I’m not kind of anxious to… You know, we only did a handful of interviews. I think I was asked to go on virtually every show, and I just sort of said, look, we just had an election. It’s an important time to get some rest, to recharge the batteries.

That must be hard, trying to decompress after the campaign?

Kasich: I was telling one of my colleagues the other day, I was a congressman for 18 years and in the legislature for four and at that point my job really overshadowed my life. But I’ve got a good mix between doing my job, having that responsibility, and having a normal life. And I live in my own home, I don’t live in the governors’ mansion. I play golf, I work out, I lead a very normal life, which probably surprises a lot of people. It’s not unusual to see me just right in the neighborhood. But in terms of the campaign, that’s a little bit of a different situation. Let me just give you some statistics. In less than three years, I put 250,000 miles on the cars in which I travel. And in the last 100 days, since Labor Day, I think I did well over 100 events. So it’s like running a marathon with a sprint at the end, which of course all great marathoners do, and at some point you’ve got to stop running and rest up. So I’m trying to get away from it. I’m trying to recharge. It’s important if you want to have good perspective, you’ve got to make sure that you’re rested. So I’m working at it. I’m exercising, I’m playing golf, I’m trying to get away, spend some time with my family. But I think I have a ways to go before I’m fully recharged.

TIME 2016 Election

Dr. Ben Carson’s Non-Campaign for President Hits the Air

Dr. Ben Carson is shown on a screen backstage while he speaks during the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.
Dr. Ben Carson is shown on a screen backstage while he speaks during the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. Lexey Swall—Grain for TIME

A lengthy informercial on the conservative doctor may be a prelude to a presidential campaign

Pretending to run for president can be a lucrative business. Just ask Donald Trump, who’s milked every dime and dollop of attention from his perpetual flirtation with politics. So too can running a no-shot campaign. Just ask Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich, whose book sales skyrocketed from the attendant publicity.

Sometimes the spoils of fake campaigns accrue to people other than the supposed candidate. For many months now, a political-action committee has been raising money to cnovince retired doctor Ben Carson to run for president. Carson, who shot to stardom on the right with a rebuke to President Obama at the 2013 national prayer breakfast, has become a sizzling commodity in conservative circles, racking up straw poll victories and placing high in surveys of a hypothetical 2016 field. The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee has capitalized, raising a staggering $11 million this cycle in a bid to coax Carson to run. That’s more than the Ready for Hillary folks, even though Clinton seems nearly certain to run and Carson has told media, including TIME, that he has little interest.

He may have changed his mind. This weekend, an hour-long documentary on Carson will air in 22 states, plus Washington, D.C., including media markets in Oregon and upstate New York where Presidential politics rarely travels. Carson’s business manager is footing the bill for the program, entitled “Ben Carson: A Breath of Fresh Air.” The lengthy, expensive advertisement for Carson’s campaign-in-waiting convinced Fox News to cut ties with Carson, as it did in 2012 with Gingrich and Rick Santorum when those men took serious steps toward launching presidential bids. “2016 is upon us, and Ben Carson is first out of the gate,” declared the Democratic research firm American Bridge.

While the documentary seems to indicate that Carson is seriously mulling a campaign, it is not likely to convince rival political operations to take the doctor seriously.

There is no doubt that Carson is hugely popular on the right; in a recent poll of Iowa Republicans, he placed second to Mitt Romney in a ranking of prospective presidential candidates. And his backers have shrewdly tapped into the direct-mail fundraising machine that long been a powerful force on the right. But smart campaigns don’t blow huge sums on running over-long advertisements at odd times in states that don’t matter. It’s an unusual stunt for an unusual figure, who still may not be a candidate at all.

TIME 2016 Election

Republican Party Boss: We’ve Got To Be “Just About Perfect” To Win In 2016

Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, participates on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National at National Harbor, Md.
Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, participates on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National at National Harbor, Md., March 8, 2014. Ron Sachs—CNP/AdMedia/Corbis

A warning to his own party after a winning election about the coming challenge

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the GOP’s victories Tuesday amounted to the “tsunami” he predicted months ago, but predicted a tough road ahead for the GOP if it hopes to win the White House in 2016.

Speaking to reporters at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor, Priebus said the election amounted to more than just a rejection of unpopular President Barack Obama. “It was also the acceptance of conservative Republican leadership across the board,” he said triumphantly.

Under Priebus’ leadership, the GOP has made historic gains to its data and field programs buoyed by record party fundraising, but he said the bar will be even higher in 2016, when the electorate will be more favorable to Democrats. “I think we’re going to have to be about perfect,” he said.

Priebus, who has served as chairman for four years, said he would likely run for another two-year term to helm the party in January.

“I think we’ve got a long way to go to be ready for 2016,” he said. “Granted, we are excited and proud of where we’ve come, but I think we’ve got to be about perfect as a national party to win a national cultural vote in this country. I think the Democrats can be good and win, but we have to be great.”

Priebus acknowledged that many in the party are “tired and tapped out” after the expensive midterm race, but said he is confident that the party’s donors will realize they need to keep their checkbooks open. “They’re going to double down on our program because they know that investing in mechanics is the way that we’re going to be able to win in 2016,” he said.

“I think that our early vote program has to decisively beat the Democrats,” he said. “No nominee is going to have $100 million for a data platform, and no nominee is going to have a yearlong field operation. It’s going to take the RNC to fill that void, and it’s going to be expensive.”

Priebus said the GOP is not pulling out any staffers from presidential battleground states, a change from previous elections. “We’re going to have to be three times bigger than we were in 2014,” he said. “I think it’s going to take a massive amount of money and a huge paid program in the battleground states starting immediately.”

In an effort to keep the party as ‘about perfect’ as possible, Priebus indicated he is willing to take an active role in the upcoming GOP primary process to keep the discourse civil and focused on winning the White House. The RNC has already taken steps to compress the primary calendar and has taken control of the debate process to cut down on the number of intra-party battles after the 2012 cycle.

“I think that there is a very strong feeling among the grassroots and among many of our donors that aren’t going to put up with Republicans slicing each other apart,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a high level of disdain for candidates who spend their time trying to destroy other Republicans.”

“I will be less concerned about my own reputation and refraining from being vocal,” Priebus added, “with candidates that go out of their way to simply just kill each other.”

Priebus highlighted Republican successes in 2014 at reaching out to minority voters, noting the GOP won nationally among Asian-American voters, saying the party will be doubling down on those efforts for 2016.

But Priebus had a stern warning for Obama on immigration reform, calling Obama’s promised executive actions “a nuclear threat” that amounts to “throwing kerosene on the fire.” “What essentially he is telling the American people is that he doesn’t give a darn about Republicans and Democrats working together,” he added, echoing recent comments by Speaker of the House John Boehner and likely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

He added that, as party chairman, he remains opposed to marijuana legalization efforts. “As far as marijuana is concerned, I’m opposed to that,” he said.

He also took a shot at the likely Democratic nominee for President in 2016. “I sure as heck hope we’re running against Hillary Clinton,” he said. “What you just saw on Tuesday night was about as flat of a performance as you could have ever seen from the Democratic Party’s brightest star.”

 

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