Morning Joe | March 19, 2013
>>> our message was weak. our ground game was insufficient. we weren't inclusive. we were behind in both data and digital. and our primary and debate process needed improvement. so there's no one solution. there's a long list of them.
>>> to be clear, our principles are sound. our principles are not old rusty thoughts the way we communicate our principles isn't resinating widely enough. focus groups described our party as narrow minded, out of touch, and, quote, stuffy old men.
>> okay. that was rnc chair reince priebus. jonathan martin explains that not everybody in the gop is on board. he writes, quote, the five-member panel urges having the number of presidential primary debates in 2016 from 2012 creating a regional primary cluster after the traditional early states are holding primaries rather than caucuses or conventions. reaction was swift. allies of potential 2016 hopefuls, senator rand paul and former senator rick santorum sensing a power play by the establishment dominated panel reacted angrily to recommendations they think are aimed at hurting candidates who do well in caucuses and conventions and need debates to get attention. an adviser to rand paul was quoted as saying elimination of caucuses would mean nuclear war with the grass roots , social conservatives , and paul movement. and joining us now from washington, politico senior writer jonathan martin . jonathan?
>> nuclear war . that sounds intense.
>> the problem is, they need to actually come together.
>> you mean we're actually going to let the person that gets the most votes in a ballot box win?
>> yeah. and they actually don't want this sort of cannibalism and infighting and circus. at least some of them don't. others do.
>> jonathan, what's going on within the party ?
>> so, first of all, it's important to keep in mind what the rnc can and can't do. there's much talk about the policy issues and of course, policy is what drives politics. but keep in mind, the rnc has little say over policy. what the rnc can do is dictate the rules of the next campaign. and that's where they're really relevant and that's why i thought that was the most important part of this report. what they're trying to do is essentially shorten the primary next time around and in effect while making it easier for the most well financed candidate to win. fewer debates, a regional cluster of primaries taking place in a very confined time period which means the candidate that has tv ads is going to do the best. and then lastly, primaries rather caucuses, all three of those things benefit a well-financed candidate. and if you're a grass roots conservative or a rand paul type campaign and you do well on conventions and see those kind of rules, then you scream. and that's what you're seeing here and to me this captures something bigger in the party and a lot of the grass roots folks see the establishment trying to assert control of the party and take it over and they're not happy about it.
>> let's go to the most inside of inside baseball . what are the motives of the people at the rnc. are there motives to try to keep somebody for rand paul or rick santorum from winning? are there others that have the byproduct of helping the most established best financed candidates?
>> well, look, i don't think if you surveyed the five members of this you survey the committee mark, i don't think they are targeting him. i think the picture point that leaves the nominee unscathed. they are changing the rules to apply for an open race in 2016 when there is not going to be an incumbent president. one of the things that hurt romney is he had a primary and president obama fund raised and launched a campaign with no primary of his own. these rules will apply more to that paradigm than an open seat race.
>> this seems like an easy and fun conversation for democrats to be having this morning and this is the way to look at this. what's the sense with senate and house republicans that you need to reduce the number of debates and allow the people who gets the most votes. the debate process is more. how does that play with the capitol hill republicans?
>> i think the congressional party would prefer a cleaner primary, harold. someone who spends two, 2 1/2 months in may. that would be fine with the congressional wing of the party . they don't have a long knock down drag em out party . 2016 could seat best feel of republican candidates in a long tile. you want a good robust campaign. you will have what looks like a strong field of candidates. that cleared the field early, but it could be in the party 's best interest to have a decent primary.
>> thank you very much. tomorrow " morning joe " tom brocaw will be here with haley barbour . msnbc's alex wagner. " morning joe " is brewed by starbucks. as