Money, the lifeblood of politics, must be raised. Qualified candidates must be groomed. Giant egos massaged. Activist bases must be stroked. Even more challenging, all of that can happen and the chairman might still fail at the really big test — putting your candidate in the White House.
When it comes to the presidency, the RNC is in a bit of a slump. In 2008 and 2012, the presidential primary process damaged the men who eventually landed on the General Election ballot. Republican primary voters drove the process to the extreme right, demanding allegiance to a set of priorities that turned off swing voters.
In the 2012, the numerous televised presidential primary debates put this dilemma on full display. Candidates were forced to swing right on a host of issues, including immigration, health-care reform, tax policy and so on. (Granted, for a few it wasn’t that much of a stretch.)
All of this pressure on Republicans is illustrated in recent letters sent from Reince Priebus, the RNC’s chairman, to the heads of CNN Worldwide and NBC Entertainment. In both Priebus writes that NBC and CNN should halt plans to produce movies centered on the life of Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State and U.S. senator, the wife of former President Bill Clinton and presumed 2016 presidential candidate.
The Clinton biopics “appear to be a major network’s thinly veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election,” Priebus wrote.
Among all his duties, challenges and responsibilities, the last thing Priebus needs is to add the title of television programmer.
Oh, and both letters conclude with the suggestion that unless CNN and NBC abandon plans concerning movies about Clinton, the networks might be cut out of an opportunity to televise some of the 2016 Republican presidential primary debates.
This last part suggests a reason Priebus may have sent the letters, one that has very little to do with Hillary Clinton and more to do with limiting Republican presidential primary candidates’ exposure on TV networks.