RNC Chair Reince Priebus on Donald Trump: “We have a great relationship”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus reiterated his support Monday for embattled Republican nominee Donald Trump — telling members of the RNC that the operation stands fully behind his campaign.
“Nothing has changed in regard with our relationship,” Priebus said in a call with RNC committee members, according to sources on the call. “We are in full coordination with the Trump campaign. We have a great relationship with them. And we are going to continue to work together to make sure he wins in November.”
The move to present a united front with the Trump campaign comes after earlier Monday, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republican members of the House he would no longer defend Trump, but did not formally rescind his endorsement.
Priebus convened the call with members on short notice over the weekend, and did not take any questions. His remarks lasted less than 14 minutes.
Trump’s support in the Republican Party has eroded in the past few days after a 2005 recording surfaced of him making lewd and sexually aggressive comments toward women. Several prominent members of the party have pulled support for Trump, and the vast majority have publicly condemned his comments.
Monday, Priebus emphasized he does not defend the controversial remarks.
“Like all of you, I don’t condone what was said in the video,” he said. “In fact, the campaign itself doesn’t defend the words in that video.”
But the GOP chairman said that Trump comported himself well in Sunday night’s debate and apologized from the heart.
Priebus also pushed back on media reports of turmoil inside the RNC or efforts to pull back support from Trump. He said no one has left the RNC or the campaign, and said there were no meetings about rules to replace a nominee. He also said no efforts through the party and campaign’s joint operation, Trump Victory, were halted.
He said efforts were “ahead of budget” and donations were still strong.
“Everything is on course,” Priebus said.
He also dismissed as “silly” the protest at RNC headquarters organized by a former Virginia campaign chairman for Trump, noting that the man, Corey Stewart, had been let go by the campaign.
Priebus’ move stood in contrast with the tone struck by Ryan, a close friend and political ally of the chairman, on a call with his GOP conference Monday morning.
Ryan told members he would not defend Trump and focus on protecting Republican majorities in Congress. He faced pushback from a few members on the call who accused him of ceding the White House. Ryan spokesman Zack Roday said the speaker “made it clear on the call he’s not conceding the presidential race.”