RNC chairman says he is ‘very confident’ Republicans can win Senate majority

September 23, 2012

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus expressed confidence Sunday morning that Republicans can win control of the Senate this November, even as polling shows Democrats have recently seized momentum in some key races.  


(Mark Wilson/Getty)

"I'm very confident we can take the Senate," Priebus said on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos." He added that the marquee race in his home state of Wisconsin favors the GOP nominee, former governor Tommy Thompson.

"I know that Tommy's going to win here in Wisconsin. He is a legend. It's like Harley-Davidson, Miller Lite, Tommy Thompson. He is a brand. He's going to win."

Recent polling has shown Democratic momentum in some of the most competitive races, including Wisconsin. Adding to the GOP's woes is the state of play in Missouri, where embattled Rep. Todd Akin (R), who said in an interview last month that "legitimate rape" rarely causes pregnancy, is up against a Tuesday deadline to remove himself from the ballot and has shown no signs he is willing to do so. 

Priebus reiterated that Akin will receive no support from the Republican National Committee. 

"We're not going to play in Missouri with Todd Akin, I can tell you that. So it'll be yet to be seen whether he stays in or not," he said. 

Priebus mentioned a handful of other competitive races he believes could tip the battle for the majority in Republicans' favor. The GOP needs to net four seats to win control in the next Congress. 

"You go to Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana. That gives you four. You hold Scott Brown.  And then we haven't even talked about what's happening in Virginia, Ohio, Florida. I feel very good about it. And I would also keep an eye out on Hawaii and Linda Lingle out there," he said. 

Even as Mitt Romney faced a string of tough headlines about his "47 percent" comment, Priebus said he thought Republicans had a good week.

"I think that we had a good week last week, I think in retrospect, in that we were able to frame up the debate last week in the sense of, what future do we want and do you want out there," he said. 

Speaking on the same program, Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod disagreed. 

"Well, I don't know what prism he's looking through," Axelrod said. "I don't think anybody else would define it as a good week.  But it was an enlightening week. The week began with Governor Romney basically slandering 47 percent of America, saying that they were, you know, hooked on dependency, didn't pay their taxes, and so on."

 Updated at 11:38 a.m.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan | September 23, 2012