2008 | Reince Priebus Predicts Wiscоnsin Will Gо Red

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Times Insider shares historical insights from Newspaper Post.

Reince Preibus, when he was the Republican Party chairman.

Drew Angerer/Newspaper Post

“Democrats here,” Reince Priebus said, referring to Wisconsin, “are not New York- or California-type Democrats. These labor Democrats are conservative people to begin with.”

So said the president elect’s newly minted chief of staff, speaking about a state that, like Pennsylvania, had long eluded the Republican Party.

So he said in 2008, that is.

Mr. Priebus, appointed by Donald J. Trump on Sunday to the highest-ranking position in the White House, first appeared in Newspaper Post on Sept. 28, 2008. “Union Leaders Confronted by Resistance to Obama,” the headline read.

The article discusses attempts by union members to court Democratic votes during President Obama’s first presidential campaign — and acknowledges certain hurdles they encountered: issues of abortion, gun rights and race. The Times sought out Mr. Priebus, then chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, to offer his opinion.

Mr. Priebus’s quote, which appears toward the end of the article, proves eerily prescient given Mr. Trump’s narrow victory over Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin. (It was the first time since 1984 that Wisconsin has voted in favor of a Republican presidential candidate.)

The article also offers some insight into Wisconsin’s electorate, who in 2008 — like fellow Midwestern voters this year in Ohio — lamented the state’s loss of jobs.

In the moment, though, Mr. Priebus proved anything but prescient.

“A bigger problem is that Barack Obama has a sort of show pony style,” Mr. Priebus said, denying that race would play a factor in the election. “The speeches and the classic double speak and being a great orator, that kind of thing doesn’t play well in Wisconsin.”

Five weeks later, Mr. Obama carried Wisconsin with a 14-point margin.


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