Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Friday, March 4, 2016, in National Harbor, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Reince Priebus Needs to Lead Now

I like Reince. I actually credit him with salvaging the debate mess that we experienced in 2012. The people complaining about the 2016 debate structure have very short memories. The 2016 situation was vastly improved from 2012. I also think Reince is often unfairly blamed for others’ problems. At the RedState Gathering two years ago I got roundly criticized for doing a Q&A with Reince instead of subjecting him to hostile questions from the crowd over things completely outside his control and about which he bore no responsibility. The crowd was angry and it was not his fault.

Over the past few years, I think Reince has done a good job leading the RNC and managing its growth. It is a testament of his leadership that the GOP has expanded with stability in areas of the country that conventional wisdom held the GOP could not win.

However, on the matter of the presidential race, I think at last Reince Priebus needs to have some blame laid at his feet. It is a mess he did not create other than by backing reforms pushed by those who wanted to head off a Santorum debacle like in 2012. Those reforms, by fighting the last campaign in the present, helped Trump.

Reince is not the leader of Donald Trump’s campaign. He is the leader of the Republican National Committee. He was put in charge not to manage the party’s decline, but to shepherd the party through elections and protect its best interests.

I am a ready believer in the idea that those of us opposed to Donald Trump must support others behind enemy lines who can, from within, push Trump in the proper direction and, if necessary, undermine him from within. But that cannot be the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. That person, the Chairman, must lead.

That leadership must be exercised for the good of the party and not for just one candidate at any level, including the Presidential level.

Donald Trump is going to be a disaster for the GOP at all levels of office and in fundraising. Two polls, both the NBC poll and Fox News poll, both conducted after the Orlando terrorist attack, show that more than 50% of the party wants Donald Trump replaced. In the last 23 polls, Donald Trump has lost to Hillary Clinton.

Reince Priebus has worked overtime trying to build relations between the GOP and Hispanic voters and now has a Presidential candidate who accuses Mexicans of being rapists.

The donor class of the GOP is withholding funds. The RNC bank account has less in it now than in prior recent Presidential elections. Internally at the RNC they are not even sure Trump can raise $200 million. Much of the work the RNC is having to do is defend Trump at the expense of other candidates. On top of that, corporate sponsors are fleeing the GOP convention, further hampering fundraising. Speakers are fleeing as well.

Reince Priebus is in an untenable and unfortunate position, but it is one he chose for himself. The Chairman of the Party needs to lead. And Reince Priebus knows the situation with Trump is untenable and not sustainable. As we head to Cleveland, I believe he has an obligation to make clear publicly what he knows privately. The Chairman cannot keep plugging holes, pretending the ship is not sinking. Under his leadership, the GOP will either own Trump or wrest back its legacy from him in an effort to survive.

I don’t envy Reince’s position, but it’s time for the grown ups to step up and admit what we all know. Trump’s campaign is bleeding the GOP dry and voters are abandoning ship. He will cost us the Senate, perhaps the House, and his impact will be felt down ballot. Reince Priebus, as Chairman of the RNC, has an obligation not just to one candidate in one race. The party is bigger than the Presidential candidate, but it won’t be for much longer.

It is time to do the right thing and admit it publicly or it is time to considering resigning to send the appropriate signal that the party is in peril. Because it is.

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Erick Erickson

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