January 30, 2010 in Nation/World

GOP passes flexible platform test

Backing will depend on candidate record
Herbert A. Sample Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, addresses its winter meeting Friday.
(Full-size photo)

HONOLULU – The Republican National Committee, pressed to find a way to distinguish itself more clearly from Democrats, on Friday adopted a rule that will prod GOP leaders to provide financial support only to those candidates who support the party’s platform.

The resolution, enacted by voice vote with no opposition at the party’s winter meeting here, is an alternative to a more stringent proposal that would have required GOP candidates to support 10 policy positions if they wanted party help.

That proposal, sponsored by Indiana RNC member James Bopp and backed by the RNC’s more conservative members, was strongly opposed by party Chairman Michael Steele and a group of state party chairs.

The alternative, offered by RNC member Bill Crocker of Texas, does not contain a specific litmus test and thus grants party officials more flexibility in how to vet GOP candidates seeking party support.

It urges leaders of local, state and national Republican parties to “carefully screen” the voting record and positions of Republican candidates that want party backing and determine whether they “wholeheartedly support the core principles and positions” of the party as laid out in its platform.

The platform is adopted every four years at the party’s presidential nomination convention.

The new rule will not prevent support for moderate Republican candidates but will bar funding for those judged to be too far to the left, Crocker said.

“No more Scozzafavas, please. No more Specters, please. No more Chafees, please,” Crocker said, referring to Dede Scozzafava, a GOP candidate for a U.S. House seat in New York whom conservatives opposed; U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched his party registration from Republican to Democrat last year; and former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, a liberal Republican.

Crocker urged the party to “present candidates who will be attractive” to the people who, like those in the tea party movement, “are really dissatisfied with our political conduct over the past several years.”

There appeared to be some disagreement over the practical effect of Crocker’s resolution. Bopp said it requires party leaders to compare GOP candidate positions to the party platform. But Bob Tiernan, the GOP state chairman in Oregon, insisted it is not binding.

“There’s nothing mandatory in it,” Tiernan said.

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