Reince Priebus values the leadership of Indiana’s current and previous governor, thoroughly enjoyed his journey as Republican National Committee chairman for six years followed by six months as President Trump’s first chief of staff but also relished the opportunity to step off the nonstop roller coaster of national politics.
Priebus is a Wisconsin native who rose through the ranks – ordering the pizza and distributing yard signs were early roles, he says – of the GOP. He spoke at Tuesday’s Indiana Chamber Legislative Dinner, with 700 business, policy and community leaders in attendance.
When Priebus woke up the day after being replaced as chief of staff and he had nothing to do, “that was the greatest thing. It was the greatest two months to be able to walk around the house and not be in a panic about anything.”
The lawyer by trade offered the following during his presentation:
- On Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb: After noting he was one of the best state party chairs in the country when he served in that role, Priebus says, “I’m in awe of your governor and the just unbelievable job he is doing,” citing conservative government, consensus building and providing a pathway to prosperity.
- On former governor and current Vice President Mike Pence: Priebus says the two would sometimes pray together during difficult times. He calls Pence “an honorable man who has selflessly served his country for more than two decades.”
- On his work ethic and President Trump: “My secret weapon (no matter his role) was to merely outwork everyone around me. I met my match in President Trump.”
Priebus cites various administration accomplishments during the first year, adding, “The media loves to focus on the decision-making process, not the decisions. But the decisions are getting our country to a better place. That’s not the Washington way of doing things, but that’s (normal procedure) not what the American people voted for.”
The typical “routine” as chief of staff involved a day ending at about 1 a.m. before being in his kitchen five hours later to catch the early morning cable television news shows. The 6:30 a.m. or so call from the President often contained two questions: “Did you see my tweet and what was right or wrong about the daily narrative on TV?” An 8 a.m. senior staff meeting in his office officially began the “daily marathon.”
Acknowledging that the party out of power typically gains in the mid-term elections, Priebus believes 2018 is more of a wild card. He shares the advice that “one of the most effective things you can do in politics is focus on what you can control – what’s right in front of you.”
For the GOP, Priebus says that’s the key policy issues of infrastructure, immigration, opioids and more. For Democrats at the party level, he offers “working on cohesion and the consistency of a political operation that used to be there.”
Priebus closed by acknowledging the Indiana Chamber and its long-established role: “The Indiana Chamber is a force to be reckoned with for a pro-jobs, pro-worker, pro market-based economy.”
Ice Miller was the presenting sponsor of the Legislative Dinner, with Centaur Gaming sponsoring the opening reception. Gold sponsors: Eli Lilly and Company, Horizon Bank, NIPSCO and St. Vincent.
Silver sponsors: American Chemistry Council, AT&T Indiana, Delta Dental of Indiana, French Lick Resort, Hoosiers Work for Health, IGT Indiana, The Kroger Co., Magna International, Majestic Star Casino & Hotel, Old National Bank, Roche Diagnostics Corporation, Rolls-Royce, Smithville and Vectren.
Catch more with Priebus Friday morning on a special episode of the EchoChamber podcast. Subscribe at iTunes, GooglePlay or wherever you get your podcasts or go to www.indianachamber.com/echochamber.