Politics

What to Watch for as Republicans Gather for Winter Meeting

In this photo taken Dec. 1, 2014. for Republican presidential canadiate Mitt Romney smiles on the field before an NFL football game between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins in East Rutherford, N.J. Mitt Romney is reaching out to former staff and supporters as he considers a third run for president. Romney and his wife, Ann, phoned former backers in the early voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa to gauge their support over the weekend. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
In this photo taken Dec. 1, 2014. for Republican presidential canadiate Mitt Romney smiles on the field before an NFL football game between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins in East Rutherford, N.J. Mitt Romney is reaching out to former staff and supporters as he considers a third run for president. Romney and his wife, Ann, phoned former backers in the early voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa to gauge their support over the weekend. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

STEVE PEOPLES, Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Republican National Committee’s 168 members gather this week in San Diego for the party’s annual winter meeting. It’s the first formal gathering since the party’s strong performance in the midterm elections, and the upcoming race for president will dominate most of the discussion at the Hotel del Coronado.

Here’s a look at five things to watch for once the meeting opens Wednesday.

1. 2016 Jockeying

Several of the party’s White House prospects and their representatives will spend the week jockeying for position publicly and privately among the RNC’s members and donors. Among them: 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, added to the program just 36 hours before the conference opens.

2. History for Reince

Reince Priebus is poised to make history this week should he win re-election as RNC chairman, and the former head of the Wisconsin GOP had no formal challenger in the days leading into the meeting. Coming off a midterm election that exceeded the party’s expectations, Priebus is unlikely to face anything more than token opposition in his quest for a third two-year term. A victory would make Priebus the longest-serving chairman in RNC history.

3. Limited Debates

The RNC plans to follow through on a pledge to limit the number of Republican presidential primary debates. Party elders believe the number of debates in the 2012 campaign contributed to the GOP’s struggles. This week, they’re expected to finalize a limited schedule that will include moderators of the party’s choosing. The shift is part of several rule changes designed to make the party’s nominee stronger in the general election.

4. Post-Mortem

The week’s official goal is to help state GOP leaders break down their performance in the midterms, with the aim of improving their work headed into the 2016 presidential contest. State party officials will spend much of the meeting’s first day strategizing behind closed doors. The discussion is expected to focus on the party’s ground game and digital efforts, a major focus under Priebus’ leadership.

5. Immigration Looms Again

More than two years ago, the RNC called for the party to embrace comprehensive immigration reform — a recommendation that was ultimately rejected by the majority of Republicans on Capitol Hill. Those same party leaders may face tough questions this week as House Republicans in Washington are poised to vote to block President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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