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Priebus: Contested convention is 'very, very, very unlikely'

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 14, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  Well, they timed the perfectly.  Now I know why they gave us these thick mikes, because, as Murphy`s Law would have it, to cue up the start of this show, they have already got the audio presentation running, and we are here in North Charleston, South Carolina, the scene for-- you might have heard something about a big debate tonight, two waves of those debates.

And you are going to see it all on FOX Business.  The bottom line is, for all the candidates hustling around and getting sort of the lay of the land earlier today, Reince Priebus was telling me, the RNC chief, who joins me now, that they have all had a chance to sort of scope things out, understand where they are going to be, their positions, and they seem like they were pretty comfortable with everything.  

How are you?  

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  I`m doing great.  
It`s a big night for the party.

And it`s a tough decision for the party.  

CAVUTO:  Yes.  

PRIEBUS:  These are varsity candidates.  It`s not easy, so they`re excited about today, and, yes, they have been through the walk-through.  They`re checking out the backstage, the podium, the sound, getting comfortable with their surroundings.

CAVUTO:  By the way, on the sound, I think I can say that they have got it just right.  It`s fairly loud.  

PRIEBUS:  Yes.  No, and nice and loud.  It`s going to be great.  

CAVUTO:  Right.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO:  All right.  I was joking with you, as I was Sean yesterday, who is your top lieutenant, about juggling this and candidates and egos.

Of course, Rand Paul won`t be showing up for a debate today.  He wanted to be in the main debate.  How do you juggle that, deal with that?  You want to be fair with everyone.  

PRIEBUS:  Sure.

CAVUTO:  And then you deal with the dust-up back and forth with candidates who feel they were slighted or Donald Trump and the dust-up with Nikki Haley.  What do you do when all that happens?  

PRIEBUS:  Well, first of all, you try to stay out of calling balls and strikes as much as you can.

And you try to remind people of Reagan`s` 11th Commandment.  And you try to remind people of what...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  Well, they have long since disavowed that.  

PRIEBUS:  I don`t know.  

You know what?  I think there`s been some jabs and there`s been some pushes and shoves.  But if you look at American history, it`s really not that big of a deal.  You look at the success of winning in a general has very little to do with the size or scope of the -- I better quit talking.  

CAVUTO:  Right.  

PRIEBUS:  Of the field.

CAVUTO:  It`s a game show.

(CROSSTALK)

PRIEBUS:  Go back to 1992, huge Democrat primary, a lot of fighting, beat an incumbent, fairly popular president.  

CAVUTO:  Right.

PRIEBUS:  Look at 2008.  Hillary and Barack Obama nearly gouge each other`s eyes out, went all the way to June, sued each other over delegates, and they killed us.  I think people overanalyze...

CAVUTO:  Much ado about nothing.

But you must be surprised that there are still so many in this race.  

PRIEBUS:  Well, you know, it depends on how you want to spend your money.  With the inclusion of super PACs, it doesn`t take a whole lot of hard cash.

CAVUTO:  That did change a lot, didn`t it?  Yes.  

PRIEBUS:  I think it did, but you do see that hard cash is king, and at the end of the day, you have got to have the hard money or the ability to identify voters, turn them out and win in those gymnasiums in Iowa in February.  And that`s expensive.  

CAVUTO:  Let me ask you a little bit about Nikki Haley.

Of course, there was a lot of heat that in the Republican response, she chose zing Donald Trump.  And she said in follow-up interviews, love Donald Trump, I have had my differences with other candidates as well.

But a lot of people quickly read into that maybe she was going through RNC talking points, maybe she was told to say what she said about the language and the kind of conduct that she was intimating made Donald Trump and his remarks so bad.  

What do you think?  

PRIEBUS:  Well, she was just praising Donald Trump yesterday.  In fact, he has helped her out on her campaign.

CAVUTO:  But not at the time of her response.  

(CROSSTALK)

PRIEBUS:  But, look, I looked at that and I looked at it as a difference of opinion.  

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  When you say you looked at it, did you look at it before she gave...

PRIEBUS:  I mean when I watched it.  No, I did not...

CAVUTO:  So there no politburo kind of stuff going on?

PRIEBUS:  No.  

What we are -- the national party is here to make sure that the infrastructure, the ground game, the voter registration, all of that, a lot of boring stuff, is done really, really well.  And whoever you`re for, whoever you`re for watching this right now, I think we can all agree that we need to have a competent national party that has its act together when it comes to the mechanics of winning an election.  

That is our job.  Staying out of the election is our job too.  And that`s why I don`t take a position on who should win and who shouldn`t.  For me, when I look at the response or difference of opinion, I remind myself and others, there are only two real political parties in this country.  

There are two doors people can walk through.  And the people that walk through those doors in many cases don`t agree with each other on everything, but that`s OK, and that`s what you have here.  You have got 12 varsity candidates.  They don`t agree with each other on everything.

But one person is going to be the nominee, and the RNC is going to be behind that...

CAVUTO:  Do you think everyone could rally around the nominee, no matter who it is?  Because when I mention Donald Trump, they say, well, some of the people aren`t too keen and say he won`t be the nominee, Neil.  

And I say, well, if he were?  Well, he won`t be.  Well, if he were?  You know?  It`s as if, are we still going through this?  

PRIEBUS:  Any one of our candidates could be the nominee.  So...  

CAVUTO:  So, what do you tell them, say that`s not productive?  

PRIEBUS:  Well, look, what I say is, if you`re going to be the spokesperson, the nominee, and the individual that represents our party, which is a private organization, you darn very well better agree that you`re going to support whoever that nominee is.  

If not, then you shouldn`t be the nominee of our party.  

CAVUTO:  Could you see the possibility -- I know you have got so many things to do.  We appreciate you taking the time.  

PRIEBUS:  It`s OK.

CAVUTO:  That we`re going to get to Cleveland with the convention and there won`t be a nominee?  Whoever it is, there might be someone leading, but a long way from the delegates necessary.  So you could have a brokered convention, multiple-ballot thing, a problem.  

PRIEBUS:  Well, first of all, there`s no brokered conventions.  There`s no brokers.  There`s no people that represent other delegates.  

CAVUTO:  Well, by that, I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

PRIEBUS:  So, the only chance to be like an open controversy or a contested convention, I think the chances are very, very, very unlikely, based on the rules as they`re written.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  I don`t know.  I have done the math on this, because you know I`m a nerd.  

PRIEBUS:  Well, I wrote -- I helped write the rules.  

CAVUTO:  OK.  Well...

PRIEBUS:  So, I know the rules pretty well.  

CAVUTO:  I have a calculator.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO:  And one of the things I have noticed, kidding aside, is that with this many candidates in the race, so many apportion delegate rewards in a lot of states, not all, that it would be very tough actually for some person to have all delegates going into Cleveland.  

PRIEBUS:  Well, actually, even in a proportional state, you -- it`s not like if you have 12 people running and you get 5 percent and I get 10 percent, that we`re splitting 5 and 10 percent of the delegates.  

CAVUTO:  Right.  Right.  

PRIEBUS:  In most of those states, if you don`t get 10 or 15 or 20 percent of the vote, and even a proportional...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  Right.  So, you`re not going to get -- right, OK.

So, all right.

PRIEBUS:  If, you got 50 percent of a vote in a proportional state, you get them all.  And so -- in a lot of states.  So, the rules are set up...

CAVUTO:  OK.  You don`t see that happening?  

PRIEBUS:  I don`t.

CAVUTO:  You see the first ballot, someone will be nominated.

PRIEBUS:  I don`t.  

And if on the high -- if the unlikely chance that we do go to a contested convention, we will be ready to take a vote on the floor.

CAVUTO:  By the way, we should stress -- and you`re a great student of history -- contested conventions are fine.  Abraham Lincoln did OK in one, right?  So...

PRIEBUS:  And we`re having a convention in July, as opposed to Labor Day, too.  

CAVUTO:  Sure.  And we don`t even start talking about Millard Fillmore.  

PRIEBUS:  Again, but it`s unlikely.  

CAVUTO:  OK.  All right.  Put you down...

(CROSSTALK)

PRIEBUS:  These clips can kill you.  I just have to keep saying that.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO:  All right, save this, this clip of this interview.  OK?

Very good seeing you, Reince.  Good luck.  

PRIEBUS:  Thank you, Neil.  Good luck tonight.  

CAVUTO:  All right.  

END

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