Reince Priebus is so full of brash talk he makes Minnesota GOP Chairman Tony Sutton seem like an introvert.
Priebus, who succeeded controversial Michael Steele as chairman of the Republican National Committee six months ago, was in Minnesota Monday to raise money and to declare that Minnesota will be a “battleground state” in the presidential election.
“We’re going to turn Minnesota red for 2012,” Priebus said.
Obama ‘a millstone’ for Klobuchar?
Not only that, Priebus declared that President Obama “will be a millstone around the neck” of Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
This was an interesting declaration, given that the Republicans still don’t seem to have a bona-fide candidate ready to get into the race against Klobuchar.
Earlier this year, Sutton had said that a front-line GOP contender would be ready to get into the race by Labor Day, which has come and gone.
On Monday, Sutton was taking a two-pronged approach to describing the status of the U.S. Senate race:
• He said that former state legislator Dan Severson, who announced his candidacy months ago, “is up and running now.” Sutton added that Severson is a former fighter pilot, “a top gun.”
• But if that top-gun status isn’t enough, Sutton said there are unnamed others waiting in the wings, champing at the bit to get at Klobuchar.
“It’s the calm before the storm,” said Sutton, with a straight face. “To be perfectly frank, there are people who want a shorter campaign.”
Priebus nodded approvingly at that, with good reason. He was the chairman of the Wisconsin GOP last year, when the party took over the state legislature and the governor’s office and when an obscure candidate, Ron Johnson, defeated Russ Feingold in the U.S. Senate race.
“He [Johnson] didn’t get into the race until May,” said Preibus.
It was all these victories in Wisconsin — and Steele’s many woes — that put Priebus into the top spot of the Republican Party.
Sutton praises fundraising prowess
Money has been pouring into Republican Party coffers ever since, said Sutton.
“He’s raised more in six months than the last chairman raised in the whole two-year cycle,” Sutton said. “If he would have been the chairman in the last election cycle, we would have a Republican governor in Minnesota because the RNC would have made it possible for us to have more resources.”
This fundraising trip by Priebus is meant to help both the state and national parties.
Republicans in Minnesota love Priebus’ message because he attacks Obama with gusto.
He accuses the president of “waging class warfare.” He ridiculed the president’s “taxpayer-financed campaign bus tour” that started in Minnesota a few weeks ago. He noted that after the president ended the bus tour, he went on vacation to “Martha’s Vineyard to play with his rich friends.”
All the woes of the present economy can be laid at the feet of the president, Priebus said.
“He’s taken the economy straight into the ditch,” Priebus said, adding that the president has to stop blaming others (his predecessor) for the nation’s economic woes.
The people of Minnesota “know that he [Obama] is not one of them,” Priebus said.
Meantime, the Republican slate of candidates is mighty, according to Priebus.
“All the buzz is about the Republican field,” Priebus said. It’s a field filled with the sort of candidates Minnesotans “are starving for.”
What are we starving for in Minnesota?
“Real authentic people who want to serve with a pure heart,” said Priebus.
So among all the GOP candidates, who has the purest heart?
Priebus thought about the question but, in the end, had no answer.
Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.