Priebus: Our job is to coalesce around nominee and to win

RNC chairman weighs in on 'Your World'


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 22, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, formally no reactions right now from the Marco Rubio camp on Rick Tyler, the Cruz communications director, being fired, but Donald Trump certainly has respond.

He's been issuing a series of tweets over the last hour, the latest saying: "Ted Cruz has now apologized to Marco Rubio and Ben Carson for fraud and dirty tricks. No wonder why he has lost evangelical support."

We're monitoring this, because as yet no response from the Rubio camp. And they might not be having any response.

But we have someone who is supporting the senator coming up in the next block.

Ahead of that and this dust-up within the Grand Old Party is Reince Priebus, of course, the chairman of the RNC.

Reince, good to have you.


CAVUTO: What do you make of this, and Rick Tyler being forced out of his communications post in the Cruz campaign?

PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, we're not going to get in the middle of calling balls and strikes among the campaigns. I think every campaign hires and fires people all the time -- not all the time, but once in a while.

But, look, obviously, you have got to be careful on social media. And little retweets and things like that can cause problems. So, again, I'm not -- I'm not in the middle of it, and -- but, certainly, it makes for a bit little more drama for the day. That's for sure.

CAVUTO: What do you make of Donald Trump's response to all of this, though? He really comes out swinging, saying, essentially: Ted Cruz has been playing an ad about me that is so ridiculously false, no basis in fact, take the ad down, Ted, biggest liar in politics.

And on and on, we go.

PRIEBUS: Well, I mean, it's pretty par for the course. Right?

Campaigns often spar with each other, and it was no different in 2012, same thing in 2008. They said this, and it's not true, and that's not fair.

Those things happen in campaigns. What -- ultimately, time runs out, delegates are allocated, and we are going to have a nominee. And so we're getting there. I think it is obviously exciting to people. We're -- we have got numbers off the chart. The debates are through the roof. People are interested in our party. We're breaking records on turnout.

We have got volunteers that are coming out of our ears. We're doing great as a party. But, obviously, you want to get to the point where you have a nominee and you're moving forward.

We're not there yet. But I think we're on our way. And it will be 60 days or so. We will know what is going on.

CAVUTO: Do you give much thought to the fact that some in the party, I guess, mainstreamers, establishment guys, I don't even know what the term is, Reince, who are worried at the prospect of a Trump nomination, so they're coalescing, it would seem, around Marco Rubio as the default stopper? Is that true?

PRIEBUS: Well, I hear things like that.

And, obviously, you see some of the movement that you can't deny in the press, and what people are saying on the record. But I talk to people every day that fund our party, that work for our party or volunteer for our party, and what I get from people is that they're pretty happy with the fact that they have got this huge array of people to choose from, that we have had great debates and that Hillary Clinton's in the ditch and that we're poised to, no matter who our nominee is, to win in November.

That's what I get. Now, granted, when people are invested in certain candidates, and they don't win, or they drop out, those people that invested are going to say things that would comport with what they want to have happen, which is, hey, this guy can't win or what if this person wins, we have got to stop this guy over here.

That's what people do in politics. But, like I said before, eventually, time runs out. And you get to a place where you have a convention and you move forward and we're prepared to do that, and do it in an effective way.

CAVUTO: But I guess what they're worried about -- and, again, there might be no justification for this -- is that Donald Trump, as your nominee, would take the party down to defeat. I think it was John McCain who said some months back that you could even risk that as Republicans losing the Senate.

Are they just over-hyperventilating on this? What? What do you make of it?

PRIEBUS: Yes, I think so.

I think -- well, I think that people will always pontificate ad nauseam about everything, and the truth is, is that we're going to find out. But antidote -- or winning is the antidote to all of this.

CAVUTO: Well, do you worry about -- do you worry about that? You're the guy who has to keep everyone together. That that Trump nomination might hurt?

PRIEBUS: Well, I worry about everything.


PRIEBUS: No. Well, I worry about everything, obviously, but our job is to coalesce around the nominee, Neil, whoever that is, and to win with whoever that is.

But for someone to try to predict today what nominee is going to best later, how do I know?


CAVUTO: But -- I'm sorry.

When you say to coalesce around a nominee, when people like Nikki Haley, who has gone out and supported Marco Rubio, has all but said she really can't rally around a Donald Trump, in fact, doubles down on some prior remarks, chastising him, I'm wondering if everyone is in sync on this kumbaya thing.

PRIEBUS: Well, I mean, I don't thing think everyone has to be in sync today.


PRIEBUS: When you have six -- five people running now, and each one of these five players have a different group of people supporting them, I think it's silly to think that everyone is going to agree that no matter -- everyone is equally great.

No. They have picked their person. They have invested in their person.  And they think their person is best.

But, eventually, the goal is, when you end up with one person, one nominee, that you have the time to bring everyone together, and defeat Hillary Clinton, and save this country. And I think we will get there, just like we always do. That's how I view it.

CAVUTO: So, then, were you given a heads-up, Reince, about Rick Tyler's firing?

PRIEBUS: No. No. I wasn't given a heads-up. Maybe someone in my office was.

CAVUTO: Right.

PRIEBUS: But maybe -- not to me directly, but it could be that someone in- house knew about it coming.

CAVUTO: The Ben Carson folks...

PRIEBUS: I mean, it's one staffer. I mean, it's a senior staffer.

CAVUTO: You're right. You're right. We don't know, by the way.


PRIEBUS: It's an important staffer, but I don't get phone calls every time someone gets fired.


The reason why I'm -- our Peter Barnes, on FOX Business, has said that obviously he is out as communications spokesman, but he might not be out of the campaign entirely. Would that surprise you?

PRIEBUS: No, not necessarily. That wouldn't surprise me.

CAVUTO: Finally, then, your sense, where this goes. I mean, as you know, Senator Cruz was criticized after the whole Ben Carson thing in Iowa that he didn't -- he apologized, but he didn't exact a pound of flesh or fire somebody over that.

He did in this case. Any significance to that timing? Just coincidental?  What?

PRIEBUS: Well, I don't know, Neil, because I don't know internally in the Cruz campaign what -- where they're at in the process.

We have employees here all over the RNC, and it may be an accumulation of things over time that creates an environment where we might have to let someone go, or it might be one thing that happened, and it was bad enough that we have got to do the same thing.

So, I just don't know the details of all of that. Obviously, what happened wasn't a good thing. But those are their decisions to make, and not for me to be in the middle of deciding their personnel decisions, obviously.


CAVUTO: All right. Reince Priebus, thank you very much for taking the time.

PRIEBUS: All right. Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right.

PRIEBUS: You bet. You bet.

CAVUTO: A lot of headaches to that job, you know? All right.

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