Republican Party Chief Takes A Victory Lap

A year ago, he says, Michael Steele left the party broke and marginalized. Now all he has to do is win.

SCOTT AUDETTE / Reuters

TAMPA — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus took a victory lap Thursday morning at the opening of the committee’s summer meeting.

Priebus, who took over a debt-ridden party last year after the tumultuous term of former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele — a talented cable news talker whose management and fundraising skills drew wide criticism inside the party and regular media scandals — highlighted the party’s move to fundraising success.

“We barely had enough money to pay our staff. Our donors had fled,” Priebus said of the party when he took office 20 months ago. “Few respected us, fewer trusted us to handle our money responsibly.”

Priebus highlighted the Party’s record-breaking donations since then.

“This cycle, the RNC has raised over $247 million. Year to date, $159 million,” Priebus said. “And at the start of this month, the committee and the campaign had over $180 million cash on hand.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that is what we call a turnaround,” he added, to loud applause.

Priebus also outlined the committee’s grassroots operation leading into the fall, noting it far exceeds where the party was four years ago.

“Our more than 600 Victory staff in the 250 offices across the country continue to implement that strategy as we speak,” he said. “We have made over 10 million volunteer voter phone calls. We have a larger on-the-ground presence than we did in 2008. We’ve knocked on over 1 million doors, which is 20 times the number of doors knocked on at this point in the last presidential election.”

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