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Morning Joe
updated 3/27/2013 6:18:25 AM ET 2013-03-27T10:18:25

"How does Reince Priebus reconcile his approach and his agreement with voter registration policies that many in the black community view as anti-black, racist?" Michael Steele asks.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele thinks the Republican Party needs to start looking at its policies, not just its messaging and campaigning strategies.

“How does Reince Priebus reconcile his approach and his agreement with voter registration policies that many in the black community view as anti-black, racist, whatever the term happens to be,” Steele said. “You’ve got to reconcile how people feel about your policies, not just the fact that you’re going to show up. You can show up any time. It’s what you say and what you do when you get there that matters most to people.”

The Republican Party’s gut check 2012 self-assessment: the $10 million “Growth and Opportunity Project” pointed to process and messaging issues as big problems, but Steele points to voter ID laws that largely disenfranchise minorities as a policy the party needs to revaluate its actions more than its words.

When presented with Steele’s argument later on The Daily Rundown, Priebus scoffed at his predecessor’s name and reiterated his standard, thinly veiled complaint about the state of the RNC finances he inherited from Steele. (Steele’s response to the jab? “I won, and he didn’t.”)

“I’m not going to engage in an argument with Michael, but the fact of the matter is you have to have enough resources to be able to have an effective ground game in minority communities…we’ve brought our financial condition back in order so we can actually hire hundred of people across America and that’s what this report calls for.”

Priebus said Obama’s successful organizing methods, and not the Democratic Party, are the real opponent the RNC is fighting–exactly the sort of response Steele said the party is using to keep from having to expose and address their own policies and principles.

“I argue taking the party outside of its comfort zone. A lot of members at the time thought that was a good idea until they realized this is going to require exposure on policy, exposure on principle, exposure on a lot of things that the party just didn’t want to be exposed on,” Steele said.

Watch Priebus on The Daily Rundown:

Video: Blocking and tackling: The GOP and its future

  1. Closed captioning of: Blocking and tackling: The GOP and its future

    >>> look at that pretty shot of washington.

    >> gorgeous!

    >> here with us now is editorial director of huffington post media group howard fineman . hello.

    >> hi, mika.

    >> and also joining us is charles cooke .

    >> he isn't wearing a scarf. i'm a liverpool fan. what is up?

    >> you didn't tell me that until just now.

    >> what is going on?

    >> my --

    >> no excuse to follow the empire.

    >> that is loyalty.

    >> what is your excuse for liverpool?

    >> i was born there.

    >> okay good.

    >> i'm making this stuff up. a long story get into it later.

    >>> the republican party decides they are going to reboot and god knows if any party ever needed rebooting, our party did, but i don't know. i looked at the press conference and i read some of the documents and i'm left wondering whether these people get it. what was your take?

    >> i think all parties do this when they lose.

    >> right.

    >> it is, obviously, important to change.

    >> right.

    >> the democratic party has changed a little as well. but there is a risk of going overboard . you know, if you look back to 2004 , the conventional wisdom was the democratic party had to become the republican party and the republican party now has an awful lot of people advising it telling it what to do who would like it become the democratic party because they are republicans . i think a grade to which the republican party to be careful not to move with the wind and lose its soul. having said, there are, obviously, issues and structural problems that young people don't like it.

    >> a bad sign!

    >> not a growth proposition.

    >> you know what else they did, mika? they got the biggest bus they could fine and drove it down the middle of the street. as the bus was passing, they pushed mike steele under it and he is with us now.

    >> are you okay?

    >> i find it interesting, michael. you were blamed despite the fact you were rnc chair when we made historic gains in 2010 . what was your take on the do you mean?

    >> when i came in as national chairman on 2009 it was on the heels of having our clock cleaned in 2008 and having it cleaned again in 2006 . i didn't need to spend $10 million to figure that out. the reality was what it was and you come in and you put the boots on the ground . you go out and you talk to people directly and you expose the party in way not traditional. i argued taking the party out of its comfort zone . a lot of members at the time thought it was a good idea but saw it required exposure on policy and exposure on principle and a lot of things the party didn't want to be exposed on. still a lot of things the party does not want to expose itself to. the words are nice.

    >> like what?

    >> the fact that you really going -- how does reince prieb it's reconcile his approach and his agreement with voter registration policies that many in the black community view as anti-black and racist? whatever the term happens to be. you got to reconcile how people feel about your policies not the fact you're going to show up. you can show up but it's what you say and do what you get there matters most to people. why in my first trip as national chairman up to here to harlem. 300 people showed up at town hall . the question was why are you going to harlem? that is where the votes, where the people are.

    >> exactly. howard fineman you had a horrible experience last night. you actually read the document. you said it reminded you of a term it paper that a student didn't want to write.

    >> they repeated the same nonstatements over and over again.

    >> what was the most telling nonstatement?

    >> the nonstatements were, first of all, they focused entirely on process in the driest aspect of the process. we need to be better data mining as if that would help. the data is clear. people under 30 overwhelmingly support the democratic party or overwhelmingly oppose this republican party . it was an exercise and not talking about what the real issue. the real issue is, as i see it, that the libertarian part of the conservative movement / republican party and the evangelical part of the conservative movement / republican party which were held together by ronald reagan and held together by fear of communism, are now at war with each other. the one honest paragraph in that whole report was the one in which they said that marriage equality is a gateway issue for young people and if we don't change on that issue, we're never going to get to young people at all. that was the one paragraph that actually was a strong statement.

    >> you know, it's so fascinating. you go back and read history. you've lived it. how old were you in 1964 ?

    >> 21.

    >> 21. you remember this very well. goldwater wins a historic landslide.

    >> loses a landslide. you said won.

    >> i mean lbj wins historic landslide. greatest landslide since '36 when fdr beat alf landon . boy, if you read pearlstein's books, the reviews were crushing. the republican party is dead and committed suicide and much worse than we were hearing here. two years later the republican party has the best off-year election and we march on to victory.

    >> because reality changes. a vietnam war going to bed and change people's minds. back in '89 republicans won five of the last six elections and electoral lock on the country. they have five six straight elections and south and west and democrats are done. then bill clinton shows up and, importantly, challenges his own party on stub substance, not process. he says we are brain dead . we have got to change on welfare and let people know we are tough on crime. he is a death penalty democrat. now people are saying the republican party is dead.

    >> but, charles, two years after bill clinton won said, we changed plolitic forever. my only point is i'm all for the hand wringing. nobody has been more critical of the republican party than myself, but sometimes it just comes down to blocking and tackling. getting the best quarterback and getting guys and women that know how to block and tackle. and this campaign was run horrifically the past year.

    >> if i can play devil's advocate for a moment. i think the gay marriage as a gateway may be arbitrary. if you look at the country. we have to be careful not to pretend that the white house is america. that's a general seat that we have because the president is so powerful and he is so visible. if you look at congress. the republicans did win congress again. the senate, the democrats have, but it's not a huge majority. and if you look at the states, the republican party is very healthy. also some of their issues have very popular. obama care is not still a popular law.

    >> what is the difference between on the state level republicans control 60% of the governor's houses. they have the majority of the state senators . they have the majority of the state legislatures . why a disconnect between the republicans on the state level and republicans in d.c.? charles and then howard.

    >> i think it's probably easier than more local you get to see the advocacy of a political program and it's very difficult for you to sell a program that we don't want to do this and we don't want to do that. i think it's probably a combination of it being easier to see. and there's a lot of money which comes from, you know, the federal government to people without it being of great cost to them or noticing it very much so it's easier to vote at the federal level , especially if you're not paying the taxes. we still don't have the taxes paying for the spending. you can't do that local. you can't borrow it.

    >> two quick things. yes, the presidency is somewhat different but this issue of marriage equality is moving so fast, the republicans have to get out of the way of it if not they will get run over by the younger generation. the other issue is at the it state level, republicans have to be pragmatic problem solvers. they can't take a philosophical distance against government because they have to run government. then the efficacy of being smart in a conservative way about using government can show results and it has shown results around the country and why republican governors are pretty popular.

    >> howard fineman and charles cooke , thank you very much.

    >> howard came with his louisville.

    >> university of louisville tie.

    >> coming up next is best seller harlan coppen who will join us. you're watching " morning joe ," brewed by starbucks. [

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