TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The chairman of the Republican Party said Monday that the GOP needs to "prosecute the president," arguing that Barack Obama's offenses are a long list of promises unfulfilled.
Using a word more common in criminal cases than politics, Reince Priebus said Obama promised lower unemployment if Congress passed his stimulus package in 2009, and to reduce both the federal deficit and the nation's debt. The unemployment rate stands at 8.3 percent.
"We need to prosecute the president on what he promised and what he delivered," Priebus said in an interview with "CBS This Morning."
Republicans close to Mitt Romney's campaign sent a message to convention delegates Monday that they need to argue that Obama's presidency has been a failure. Republicans echoed that line in news conferences and statements.
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu talked of Obama's "complete absence of leadership" in getting Congress to approve a budget. He spoke at a news conference on Hispanics and Republicans at the convention.
But few other Republicans would go as far as Priebus, who said "we need to prosecute the president who seems to be in love with the sound of his own voice." Prosecute suggests criminal indictments and court proceedings. Priebus has used the word before.
"I wouldn't define it that way and I wouldn't look at it that way," Russ Schriefer, the chief convention planner, told reporters at a separate news conference. "What we would want to do is define what President Obama has done over the last four years, how and why he's failed, and how his leadership has really failed the American people — stagnant economy, increasing debt and more importantly the disappointment the American people feel in President Obama, that he just hasn't lived up to the promises of the last four years."
Pressed on the word prosecute, Schriefer said: "You have to ask Chairman Priebus that. I don't use that word."
The Republican National Committee declined to explain Priebus' comment.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement that the public won't buy efforts by Romney to use the convention to tear down the president.
Pressed later in the CBS interview, Priebus said Obama and the Democrats "failed as a matter of law to comply with the legal requirements" to get a budget through Congress the past three years.
The 1974 Budget and Impoundment Control Act established budget procedures and the passage of annual budgets. Obama got a Democratic-controlled Congress to pass a budget in his first year in office, but no budget has emerged in three years, largely due to political divisions.