New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
14 November 2016updated 16 Nov 2016 10:50am

Meet Reince Priebus – Donald Trump’s unlikely chief of staff

The Republican peacemaker has allied himself to a tempestuous star. 

By Julia Rampen

A stalwart of the Republican political machine, Reince Priebus is at first glance not a likely ally for Donald Trump. But whether or not the President-elect wanted him as chief of staff, it seems that he needs him. 

After the Republican defeat of 2012, it was Priebus, the chair of the party’s national committee, who was tasked with working out what had gone wrong. The strategy he drew up was, at the time, a textbook bid to win over demographics supporting Democrats. In 2013, he told fellow Republicans: “If you’re not engaging with the Hispanic community, you better get to work.”

But when Trump, a man who would brand Mexicans “rapists”, decided to enter the Republican primaries, a curious dynamic emerged. As a staffer from a rival campaign put it to Politico: “Every time Trump would do something dumb, Reince would be up in New York shining his shoes.”

In public, Trump railed against the “weak” Republican National Congress. In private, he spoke regularly to Priebus.

Meanwhile, Priebus condemned footage that emerged showing Trump boasting of groping women, and criticised his attack on a Muslim family whose son had died while serving in the military. 

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

A backroom peacemaker, Priebus might have been following his instincts when he smoothed the way for Trump. But as the celebrity businessman’s star has risen, Priebus has found his reputation increasingly entangled with that of someone he cannot fully control.

Meanwhile, for Trump, Priebus provides a link to the wider Republican party, in which the President-elect is still something of a stranger. Indeed, many traditional Republicans suspect Trump of being an usurper, with one telling the Daily Beast that Priebus would have “the skunk’s stink on him” for allying with such a controversial nominee. 

In his new role, Priebus finds himself serving alongside Stephen Bannon, an alt-right figure associated with white nationalism who thrives on anti-establishment rhetoric. The peace may not last forever.

Content from our partners
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors
How the apprenticeship levy helps small businesses to transform their workforce
How to reform the apprenticeship levy