Republican officials gathering in Boston for their summer meeting, which runs from Wednesday through Friday, are expected to look at making changes in their primary process, the timing of their presidential nominating convention and evaluate how well new outreach tactics are working.
Also on the agenda: deciding whether to move forward with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus' proposal for Republican presidential candidates to boycott primary debates sponsored by NBC or CNN unless the networks cancel scheduled programs on Hillary Clinton. Clinton, who has not declared her intention to run for the 2016 Democratic nomination, is nonetheless the frontrunner, according to polls. Priebus has charged that the productions are aimed at promoting a Clinton candidacy and reveal media bias towards the left.
"Our party has to quit availing itself to biased moderators and companies that put on television, in this particular case, documentaries and mini-series about a particular candidate that we all know is gearing up to run for president and that's Hillary Clinton," he said Sunday on CNN's Face the Nation. "What's very clear is that the company that puts these things on the air to promote Hillary Clinton, including CNN, is the company that is not going to be involved in our debates. Period. Very simple."
Some have speculated that Priebus' move is driven in part on principle, but also as a means of consolidating the primary process. A number of Republicans feel the extended primary season in 2012, which included more than two dozen debates, only served to weaken their candidates ahead of the general election. The RNC meeting will also appoint commissions to look into possibly consolidating the state primary schedule, although protecting the traditional early line-up of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Top Republicans expected to attend the meeting include Priebus, former House speaker and 2012 GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, and former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno. According to an RNC release, the party will also look into how effective outreach efforts to different voting demographics, such as women and Hispanics, have been.
"The theme for the week is 'Making it Happen,' showcasing the ongoing effort by the RNC to engage with different communities across the country to help grow and expand the GOP," said the release. "RNC officials will also be highlighting its new political and technology initiatives, while updating GOP members on Growth and Opportunity Report progress."
As for why the Republicans are convening in Massachusetts, one of the country's most liberal states, a spokesman said it was meant to be a tribute to the Boston Marathon bombing victims.
"As we were getting ready to finalize the selection, the tragedy in Boston had just taken place," said Sean Spicer, communications director for the RNC, to the Boston Globe. "Like so many other Americans, we looked for some small way that we could stand with Boston.