MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the former head of the Republican National Committee and the new White House Chief of Staff for Donald Trump, Reince Priebus is a familiar figure on TV.
Raised in Wisconsin, Priebus has long moved comfortably in Washington’s political circles.
Few, however, realize his journey from Green Bay to D.C., went through South Florida where he attended the University of Miami Law School.
“When we had to put our applications in to law schools it was the middle of winter,” Priebus told CBS4 News. “I remember running into the state capitol in Madison with my hair frozen because it was so cold your hair would freeze from the time you walked from your car to the capitol and I remember saying to a buddy of mine, `Man, I think I’ve got to go to Miami.’ That being said it was a great school. It had a lot to offer and I’m really thrilled that I went there. I don’t know if I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for the University of Miami.”
Priebus attended the law school from 1995 through 1998. Flipping through the law school yearbooks for that time, it is easy to see that Reince Priebus cut quite a figure across campus.
He was popular. He was in all sorts of organizations and groups and he seemed to have a pretty good time.
There are also pictures of him visiting a local nursing home and helping build a house for someone in need during a work day program he organized.
He was a member of the Catholic Law School Students Association, editor of the law school newspaper and president of his law school class.
There are even pictures of Priebus, shirtless, with the letter “A” painted on his chest standing alongside classmates to spell “CANES.”
“Well I may have done a couple of stupid things along the way,” he said with a laugh, “but we were probably having some fun at homecoming. I’m not normally like that but that was certainly a fun day.”
Former classmates recall Priebus as fondly and said they are amazed, and even heartened, by his new position.
“As fearful as I am at times for a Trump presidency I really think that Reince is a voice of reason,” said Drew Moss, who met Priebus their first year of law school. “He’s someone that could come into any situation and try to defuse the tension. So I hope he is able to do that in the White House. The question becomes: Will Trump listen to him?”
How Priebus navigates the perceived factions surrounding the new President remains to be seen. There is Steve Bannon, the political wild man of the alt-right. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. And Priebus, the standard bearer for what’s left of the Republican establishment.
Asked how he viewed the role of chief of staff, Priebus responded: “Well it’s what the role says, you’re the chief but you are also the staff. So it’s a good reminder you work for the president and it’s a job of caring and feeding the president, making sure things are running on time, making sure you are giving him the proper advice or making sure the right people are in front of the president to give him the proper advice so you get to a decision that makes sense, a decision that is informed. And then once the decision is made you move forward and execute.”
Priebus said he gets along well with Bannon and Kushner.
“We’re a great team,” he said. “We are three peas in a pod. I mean it really is a good team. I’m not just saying that. We’re very close and disagree once in a while but it all gets resolved and that’s the way it should be. It is a good team. It really is great.”