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RNC chief brings listening tour to Brooklyn to hear from black voters

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- RNC Chairman Reince Priebus met with a small group of black Republicans in Brooklyn as part of a "Listening Tour" effort, aimed at understanding what went wrong in the 2012 election, and how the party can improve its outreach, particularly to minorities.

The meeting was closed to the press, but Priebus talked to reporters before his discussion at the Christian Cultural Center in East New York.

"We can't just be a party of purity," Priebus said. "We have to be a welcoming party." He added, "We gotta put a smile on our face. We can't just go from one mad interview to the next about the national debt and deficit. We have to tell the story of our party that's inspirational, and we have to be in it for the long haul."

Priebus also conceded that Republicans have "a real quality of contacts issue. ... What I'm talking about is showing up four months before an election, and the other side, who's been in the community for four years straight."

Not only has that method proved ineffective, Priebus said, but, "Secondly -- it's not right."

The trip comes ahead of RNC findings, to be released Monday, from its "Growth and Opportunity Project," the group's autopsy of the 2012 campaign. Priebus has engaged in multiple such meetings with minority groups across the country in recent months -- from California to Atlanta to New York.

Communications Director Sean Spicer said, as Priebus spoke inside, that the common gripe Priebus has heard in these sessions, from disaffected voters, is, "You can't just show up."

Spicer elaborated that taking a hard look at the issue, and figuring out how and where to place personnel across the country, would be a main initiative of the RNC's going forward. It was something that was discussed at a major Republican donor retreat held in Coral Gables, FL, this past weekend as well.

Republicans got walloped with minority voters in the 2012 election. President Obama won 93% of African Americans, 73% of Asians, and 71% of Latinos.

"The key thing now isn't to say, in four years from now, we need to get 40 or 50 percent of the vote -- that would be silly," Spicer said. "But I think you can say that 7 percent is unacceptable. We need 9, then we need 11, then we need 14."

RNC Committeewoman Dr. Ada Fisher, the first and only African-American female to be elected to the body, came up from North Carolina to support Priebus at today's event. She contended in an interview with NBC that President Obama largely won such a high percentage of American-American voters by making a campaign promise to "go give people stuff we can't afford."

"What we're doing now is coming out of the shadows," Fisher said. "Just because you're fiscally conservative doesn't mean you're racist and mean."