One at a time, GOP’s Priebus takes on endless interviews

August 28, 2012

By Craig Gilbert of the Journal Sentinel

Tampa, Fla. — When Reince Priebus sat down with a reporter Monday over a glass of orange juice, it was already the seventh interview of the morning for the 40-year-old chairman of the Republican National Committee, including an exceptionally stormy one on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in which he was repeatedly vilified by liberal panelist Chris Matthews.

Priebus did almost 20 interviews the day before, while preparing to gavel in a national political convention dramatically disrupted by a tropical storm.

“I take one day at a time,” said Priebus. “I try to win every day, live the mission every day, wait on God’s timing, and good things happen.”

This week’s convention is a heady time for the Wisconsin lawyer, who has never held public office and worked his way up the GOP organizational chart at the local, state and national level to get here.

His state is in the spotlight with Mitt Romney’s selection of Janesville congressman Paul Ryan for the Republican ticket.

And Priebus is in the spotlight, revamping a convention schedule in response to Tropical Storm Isaac and playing the role of attack dog against an incumbent president in nonstop TV and radio appearances. Priebus briefly convened the convention Monday before adjourning it, with the day’s proceedings postponed because of Isaac.

“I’m trying to juggle safety, juggle our message, juggle obviously our real concern, which is the people that could be in the pathway of this storm. We’ve got to juggle it all,” he says.

The party’s biggest mission at the convention?

“Two things: you still have to prosecute the President on what he promised and what he delivered,” says Priebus. “But ultimately we have to tell the Mitt Romney story.”

GOP consultant Ron Bonjean said Priebus has had two missions in trying to turn the RNC around since his election to the post early last year.

“One is fundraising and one is message – carrying the water,” said Bonjean. “He put the RNC in the black and made it extremely competitive in the money game.”

Bonjean said Priebus has also been a relentless media presence.

“In terms of the money and in terms of the message, he’s been on overdrive,” said Bonjean.

In both roles, perhaps Priebus’ defining characteristics are his energy and zeal.

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