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OTR Interviews

RNC Chair Priebus: Lewandowski departure a good pivot for Trump

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 20, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

 

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Developing right now, the Trump campaign shake-up. This might be the sign of a new direction for the general election.

So what is the RNC doing to help Donald Trump defeat Secretary Hillary Clinton?

Chairman of the RNC, Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus goes ON THE RECORD.

Nice to see you, Mr. Chairman.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Hey, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. So how did you hear the news about Corey Lewandowski?

PRIEBUS: Well, look -- I mean, I talk to the campaign over the weekend and talked to them on Monday -- today. But this is a new direction for the campaign.

I think, you know, when you look at the shift from a primary election over to the general election, this is sort of the professionalization that continues, the pivot to the presidential. I think it's a good sign, I think, for the campaign.

VAN SUSTEREN: But Corey.

(CROSSTALK)

PRIEBUS: And people should look at it as a good thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: But, Corey Lewandowski brought him here.

PRIEBUS: Sure.

VAN SUSTEREN: He got him this far. So, you know it is a sort of loyalty or the recognition that he got on this far.

PRIEBUS: Well, I think it has been a lot of loyalty, you know there have been a lot of ups and down, I think along the way and there was a lot of loyalty, but I think if you get to the point, we say look, we got the Presidency of the United States on the line. It is not just for some of the win in election, it's for the future of our country, it's for potentially three or four Supreme Court seats, so I think this pivot, this seriousness that you are seeing right now, yeah I think everyone should look at this and say this is good.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is sort of the way that it happened, that served unceremoniously.

(CROSSTALK)

PRIEBUS: Well there is something good about it, I mean there is always (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: You know he could have made them like chairman emeritus or something, you know something. I mean this look like. We are going to fire him.

PRIEBUS: No, but it looks -- but here is the thing, whenever you do something like this, you have to pivot and make a change. You can't -- there is no way to work a Presidential campaign with competing factions and competing understandings of what the right approach is going to be and then leave someone, kind of, in the backseat and then put someone in the front seat and a person in the backseat saying one thing, the person in the front seat saying another. It just doesn't work.

You know, there is four to five months left. I think from the outside looking in, as I like watching this, just like you are and everyone else out there, to me when I see something like this I see a pivot to the general. A seriousness to the general that looks good for getting this campaign in a place that is going to be competitive against Hillary Clinton.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, Corey Lewandowski to his credit, he did not seem bitter. He told Dana Bash at CNN that he -- you know he still supports Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

PRIEBUS: So I thought it was very classy the way that he handled today. I think that is a good sign.

VAN SUSTEREN: What are you doing as Chairman of the RNC to help Donald Trump at this point, because he has now got his eyes on beating Secretary Clinton?

PRIEBUS: Well, the job of the RNC is to build up the infrastructure, the ground game, the data operation for any - for our both our, per senate candidates, congressional candidates and our nominee. I would say four years ago, I don't think the RNC was as prepared as we are today, because largely we were building an RNC from scratch. I think if Mitt Romney had the RNC of today he would have won. So, in the same sense our nominee is going to be inheriting not just a few people on the ground but hundreds of people on the ground, 500 people as of today. Today we put over $100 million.

VAN SUSTEREN: Biggest ground game as.

PRIEBUS: Yeah.

VAN SUSTEREN: Biggest ground game as the democrats have?

PRIEBUS: Well, if you compare the RNC versus DNC, there is no comparison. The problem is the DNC is not our competition Hillary Clinton is our competition. The DNC doesn't have an infrastructure and a ground game.

It's Hillary Clinton that has an infrastructure and a ground game. So, when you combined the nominees operation and the RNC's operation, we are going to be very competitive, and I have got to tell you, we have done, I think, a great job, in getting our operation to a place that it hasn't been in decades. And I think people when it comes to ground game data and I understand this is boring stuff.

VAN SUSTEREN: No, no.

PRIEBUS: These are the things that allow us to win close elections. If you don't have mechanics straight you can't win.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Our home state, Wisconsin is a very close race, Former Senator Russ Feingold against incoming Republican Senator Ron Johnson. Where is that race stand?

PRIEBUS: I think it's great that Russ Feingold is running again. I mean, he is a failed candidate, people know the product.

VAN SUSTEREN: People like him in Wisconsin. He is well-liked.

PRIEBUS: Wisconsin doesn't let people that -- they don't normally allow people to come back after they lost. I mean it just hasn't worked. Retreads haven't worked in Wisconsin. Now as far as the fundamentals go, the thing with the Ron Johnson brings to the table is being in business, being a guy from the outside. Being a guy that says, you know, what he means and means what he says. And look at the polling. The polling is really close right now in Wisconsin. That is a good sign for the general election for Ron Johnson.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we'll be watching. That you and I particularly pay attention on that state. And also we have some speaker of the house is from our state too. Anyway.

(CROSSTALK)

PRIEBUS: You bet. He is my congressman.

VAN SUSTEREN: He is your congressman. He is not mine. I'm farther north. Anyway, Mr. Chairman nice to see you.

PRIEBUS: You bet.