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Sunday, December 11, 2016

As the Republican National Committee’s “Growth and Opportunity Project” nears its one-year anniversary, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has provided yet another example of why his rebranding plan never really had a chance to succeed.

According to a Washington Times report, Priebus is delaying the party’s annual winter meeting so he and other RNC members can join thousands of anti-abortion activists for the January 22 “March for Life”:

“I saw that there was a real interest among a significant portion of our members to attend and support the Rally for Life,” Mr. Priebus said in an email to the Times. “This is a core principle of our party. It was natural for me to support our members and our principles.”

Mr. Priebus, in his second term as elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, chose to delay the start of the four-day winter meeting of the GOP governing body, also scheduled in Washington, to allow himself and RNC members to attend the march. The delay is unprecedented for a major U.S. political party, several state Republican Party chairmen and other RNC members said in telephone interviews.

Mr. Priebus also decided that the RNC will charter a bus to and from the march for those among the RNC’s 168 members who wish to attend, he said.

That Priebus and his party support the anti-abortion protests is not terribly surprising; as the chairman said, restricting reproductive rights is one of the few issues that unites the Republican Party. That he would publicize the fact that the march is a higher priority than even the party’s annual meeting, however, speaks volumes about how thoroughly even he has abandoned the RNC’s plan to save itself.

The GOP autopsy report urged Republicans to “learn once again how to appeal to more people, including those who share some but not all of our conservative principles.” The March for Life’s unofficial slogan is literally “No exception! No compromise!”

The 2013 report suggested that Republicans “Be conscious of developing a forward-leaning vision for voting Republican that appeals to women.” In 2014, the party will join a march that for 40 years was led by Nellie Gray — a woman who insisted that birth control encouraged teenagers to have sex and made them “fodder for the abortion mills.”

Priebus and the RNC may be under the impression that the Affordable Care Act will be such an unqualified political disaster that they can completely ignore the issues that plagued them in 2012 and still thrive in the midterm elections. They may even be right. But if the party continues to actively antagonize women — along with Hispanics, African-Americans, and other constituencies that helped Barack Obama comfortably win re-election in 2012 — it will continue to struggle to compete in national politics, no matter how successfully it fires up the base.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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