"We've got a long way to go to be ready for 2016," Priebus told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington. "We’ve got to be about perfect as a national party to win the national cultural vote in this country. Democrats can be good to win. We have to be great.”
Facing one of the most wide-open Republican presidential races in more than a generation, Priebus said the party needed to move swiftly to find a nominee who appealed to a broad cross-section of voters. He said Republicans should avoid a long and messy nominating process – filled with ideological infighting – and search for a “hopeful” and forward-looking candidate.
“If we have a candidate on the ballot who someone actually wants to have a beer with, we can win,” Priebus said, stopping short of offering names of those he believed would – or wouldn’t – fall into that category.
He said he would try to instill discipline and order in the Republican presidential campaign, saying: “I can’t always control everyone’s mouth, but I can control how long we fight with each other.”
"The president is just throwing a barrel of kerosene on a fire if he signs an executive amnesty order,” Priebus said.
With Republicans winning a majority in the Senate and expanding their control of the House, Priebus said the burden of governing now rests with the GOP. How the party conducts itself over the next two years, he said, will influence the party’s ability to win the White House.
“If all we get out of this is a bunch of fighting and bickering, that’s not a good result,” Priebus said. “Midterm elections are judgments on the past. Presidential elections are about the future.”
While he said it’s far too early to know who would make the strongest Republican nominee, he said he believes the Democratic nominee is obvious and would ultimately help galvanize Republicans.