Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee could be a good model for the party with regards to discussing issues like marriage and abortion.
Huckabee could be "a model for a lot of people in our party" on social issues like marriage equality and abortion, Priebus told a group of reporters Friday during a briefing at National Review's Washington, D.C. office.
"I always tell people: Listen to Governor Mike Huckabee. I don't know anyone that talks about them any better," Priebus was quoted as saying, as he sought to clarify his statement this week showing support for Sen. Rob Portman, the Ohio Republican who came out in support of gay marriage last week after he discovered his son was gay.
"When someone asks me 'Are you going to cut off funding for Rob Portman?' I think it's just ridiculous," the RNC chair said. "He's a good Republican. I think it's also normal and decent to still support a person that you agree with on 99 percent of the issues."
However, Priebus maintained that the GOP is "still a pro-life party." "Yes, we still defend our platform on marriage," he said, adding that Republicans must still sound "reasonable" to voters who disagree.
The official "autopsy report" of the 2012 election suggested that the Republican Party should change its tone on certain social issues. "The Party should be proud of its conservative principles, but just because someone disagrees with us on 20 percent of the issues, that does not mean we cannot come together on the rest of the issues where we do agree," the report said. "On messaging, we must change our tone – especially on certain social issues that are turning off young voters."
Huckabee, a 2008 presidential candidate, believes that "Republicans didn't lose because they got too conservative," he told The Christian Post in an exclusive interview earlier this month. "I don't think anyone would say – and with all due respect to Mitt Romney – that Mitt Romney was too pro-life and pushed the marriage agenda. You can't blame candidates who are strongly pro-life and pro-family for the losses in many of these states where you had establishment type candidates losing races they should have won and I just find that nonsense."
Huckabee, now a talk radio and television host for Fox News, added he was disturbed "that in the Republican Party we're having this pushback from what I would call the more elite business establishment types who want us to come vote with them but they really don't want us to come shape the policy and they're almost embarrassed we're still holding fast on things such as same-sex marriage and the sanctity of life and still believe that a biblical basis for citizenship is important."
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The former Southern Baptist minister went on to say that the party is not trying to "mandate a particular belief or practice," but stressed that "without understanding who we are as a country, how liberty works and what the basis of what it is, we can't sustain the American way of government." "It's just not possible," he told CP prior to him being honored with the National Religious Broadcasters Board of Directors award.