BURLINGAME, Calif. (AP) — Planned changes to the Republican Party's presidential selection process are part of a rebuilding process that will strengthen the GOP brand and hopefully make its presidential nominee more competitive in 2016, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told California Republicans on Friday, calling the GOP's current primary process "a complete disaster."
Priebus said shortening the primary process by moving up the national convention at which the nominee is typically selected to June and cutting the number of debates are "not an establishment takeover. This is using your brain. Everything's not a conspiracy."
"I think a traveling circus of debates is insanity in this party," Priebus told about 200 delegates. "We're proposing to have fewer than 10, and this time around, we're going to pick the moderators."
Priebus is proposing to hold just 10 debates for the would-be GOP nominees in 2016, compared with the 27 held ahead of the 2012 race in which former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was eventually selected as the party's nominee.
The chairman also touted a key victory this week in a hard-fought Florida congressional race that is seen as a possible bellwether of November midterm election. Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a special election Tuesday that largely turned on President Barack Obama's health care law.
"By the way, people still hate Obamacare, and that helped," he said to laughter.
Republicans are trying to catch up to the high-tech operations that Democrats used to elect Obama in both 2008 and 2012. Priebus said the GOP has an office in the San Francisco Bay Area city of San Mateo that is building a $35 million data platform to help candidates.
He said he is trying to convert the party from one that showed up "for five months once every four years," into one that works year-round and can invest in competitive governor's races and congressional races in every state.