(WASHINGTON) — RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said that after Scott Walker’s recall victory this week, “light blue” Wisconsin “can turn red under the right circumstances.”
“The momentum is clearly shifting in our direction,” Priebus, a Wisconsinite himself, said on a conference call. “It’s no doubt that Wisconsin will be a tough battle and a tough fight, but I’m pleased to say the energy and excitement for that fight is on the Republican side.”
The RNC has 23 offices in the state; they will now shift from focusing on the recall to “Mitt Romney’s operation,” according to RNC political director Rick Wiley, who also spoke on the call.
“And with that we throw Wisconsin into a presidential battleground and that path to 270 becomes very visible, very quickly,” Wiley said, referring to how many electoral votes are needed to win the presidency.
They touted their ground operation, saying they made 4.5 million calls on behalf of Walker, and beat the Democrats on everything from absentee ballots to door knocking, something they say will continue through November.
Although Wisconsin is a reliably blue state in presidential elections, Priebus said the Republicans have now “perfected” their ground operation and Wiley said they will target students on college campuses all over the country including Wisconsin. The 18-to-25-year-old demographic is obviously something the Obama campaign is counting on, but Wiley said they will pursue those voters as well.
“It was the cool thing to do on 2008 campuses to vote for Barack Obama and that sentiment is just not there anymore,” Wiley said.
When asked by reporters what to think of Tuesday’s exit polls in the Badger State that put Obama up by six points ahead of Romney, Priebus said Obama may have a hard time rallying Democratic support after he chose not to campaign with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The president, he said, “left them at the altar.”
Reacting to President Obama’s comments from Friday morning when he said the “private sector is doing fine” Priebus joined the scores of Republicans calling the president “tone deaf.”
A reporter on the call pointed out that Mitt Romney has had more than his fair share of foot-in-mouth moments from “being able to fire people” or saying he is “not concerned with the very poor.” Could the Republican National Committee really try to pounce on one comment in that light?
Priebus answered, “Absolutely.”
Obama has since clarified his comments saying Friday afternoon, “It’s absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Phil Mattingly, Tom LoBianco and David Mark, CNN
Scott Stuntz, Teton Valley News
Robert Patten, EastIdahoNews.com