OTR Interviews

Nothing 'second tier' about first GOP debate

So-called 'Happy Hour' debate focuses on issues as candidates zing Hillary, Obama and Trump. But was there a breakout among the GOP hopefuls? RNC Chair Reince Priebus sounds off. #GOPDebate


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 6, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And joining us now RNC chair Reince Priebus live from the site of tonight's debate in Cleveland, Ohio.

Nice to see you, Mr. Chairman.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: Hey, Greta, nice to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I counted first of all two questions on Donald Trump. One to Governor Rick Perry and the other to Carly Fiorina. Are you surprised only two questions to your group?

PRIEBUS: No, I'm not surprised. I mean, right now he is the frontrunner. So I'm sure that these are the questions that are going to come up. And I would suspect that it will probably come up again at the next debate here starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

So it's going to be a great night and I can just tell you, the energy here is like -- feels like a national convention right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the word is that he has -- that Donald Trump has sort of tapped into the anger of many Republican voters. So what about the other candidates? Are they not tapping into it, or do they need to rev it up or do they have a completely different strategy?

PRIEBUS: I'm not quite sure what the strategy is, Greta. But certainly there is a lot of people that are just frustrated, in many ways frustrated with both parties. Frustrated with, you know, Washington and stagnation. And maybe there is truth to that. That Donald Trump has tapped into some of that. But you know what, it's a long campaign. Donald trump knows that too. And everyone understands this is the first of many debates. And so I expect that things are going to come up and down and that's what's exciting about this.

I think that the good thing is we've got a young, diverse party. We've got a real race on our hands, clearly. And the other side basically has a coronation. So I think that excitement is good. But obviously, Greta, containment is going to be important as well for our party. And so certainly I'm doing my best to try to make sure that we've got an orderly process.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, if there's frustration with Washington, does that mean that it's bad news for three of the candidates who are freshmen senators. We've got Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rand Paul. All freshmen senators much like then Senator Barack Obama in 2008. So does that make it more difficult for those candidates going into this debate?

PRIEBUS: Well, I mean, I guess it depends if people believe that there are folks that are trying to make things different in Washington. And certainly I think all of them are.

And so, you know, if you are fighting against that isn't working and people recognize that then maybe that would suffice.

Look, I think it's for all these candidates to make the case on their own. And like I said before, Greta, I mean, this is just the beginning and it's going to be a great night. And Fox certainly had done incredible job in putting this together tonight. I think everyone is going to be pretty excited. The first part of the debates were great, too. It was just phenomenal. So we will see where it goes next.

VAN SUSTEREN: Last night we had Carly Fiorina ON THE RECORD. And she said that she was trying to make herself known. That's what she was trying to do. And I know that you take no position to endorse any particular candidate. But, according to Google trends, Carly is the most searched candidate during the early GOP debate.

Does that mean that Carly did exactly what she wanted to do? Is she now much better known?

PRIEBUS: Well, I mean, she certainly did a nice job so did all the candidates. But I think that a lot of these candidates that were in the first heat, the first debate, you know, they are going to break out. And I think some of them are going to find themselves on the other stage at the next debate and maybe the one after. So we'll see where it goes, Greta.

You know, I don't like to get in the middle of all this sort of picking and choosing candidate stuff. But certainly you are making a good case. And she did do well. But you know, I think all the candidates did pretty well and we're going to have another opportunity in a couple of hours and it's going to be great.

Is the next debate -- do you think it's going to feel different, seem different, be a lot different?

PRIEBUS: Well, I think at the next debate, you know, it's going to be about 4500 people that are going to be in the seats. And so at this very moment what's happening -- the ticket holders are getting through security, getting into the building here and filing into their seat. You can't see it but it's on the other side of the arena from where we are sitting now.

So the crowd showing up early. All day. It's been all over the city of Cleveland. The people have been walking around. So I think that there is going to be quite a buzz there when those 10 candidates come out. I think there's going to be a lot of pressure in the room and I think things are going to be pretty tense.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Chairman, thank you, sir.

PRIEBUS: You bet. Thank you, Greta.