Floor fight: Grass-roots activists battle attempt to rig RNC delegate rules Updated: Palin: “direct attack on the grass-roots;” RNC power grab showdown 2pm; Rush weighs in; purge underway?; Rules Cmte votes 78-14 for deal; dissidents gather sigs for floor fight; Boehner/Sununu declare”no objections” over massive boos on floor
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE VERY LATEST…showdown today 8/28…Rules Committee adopts compromises, floor fight squashed as Boehner/Sununu approve rules report over massive boos on convention floor
Drew McKissick is a longtime conservative activist and blogger who is in attendance at the Republican National Convention’s Rules Committee meetings. He and others on the ground are sounding the alarm over rules changes that he and many other attendees believe will hurt grass-roots movement conservatives. The battle is being cast by some observers as a narrow fight between Ron Paul advocates and the rest of the party. Drew says that’s not true. And many other state delegations who oppose top-down delegate choices are chiming in.
First, here’s Drew’s call to arms (my emphasis added in bold):
Those who are in Tampa working to maintain the influence of grassroots conservatives in the Republican Party need your help!
This past Friday, the RNC’s Convention Rules Committee voted – after several contentous votes – to change the party’s rules to allow future presidential candidates to have veto power over who can be delegates from any state – in other words, take power away from the grassroots and their ability to elect fellow conservatives as delegates.
This represents a brazen move by several Washington Beltway consultants and party insiders to diminish the power and influence of conservatives over the party.
At least 29 members of this committee are filing Minority Reports to the full convention to try and make sure that these changes are NOT adopted into the final changes the full convention will approve on Tuesday. But we need your help to spread the word. 28 members are required to issue a minority report for the convention to even consider…and you can be sure others are working behind the scenes to peel some of them off before the meeting…so we need to create pressure for others to join!
Let me stop here and say that this is NOT…REPEAT NOT a move by a bunch of disgruntled Ron Paul supporters. This is a group of long-time conservative activists, even “party regulars” and lots of Romney supporters, many who go back to the Goldwater days.
We need to generate enough PUBLIC PRESSURE from grassroots conservatives that they will back off before Tusday’s meeting and withdraw their changes so that we can avoid the need for a minority report and floor fight [altogether].
Here’s what we need before Tuesday’s session of the convention:
1) We need all conservative Republican grassroots supporters to contact their state GOP and let them know that they OPPOSE the rules change that will give future presidential campaigns control over who gets to be a delegate (current RULE 15, but is being renumbered to 16)…and OPPOSE the new RULE 12 which allows the RNC to change the rules at any time between conventions.
2) We need them to contact any DELEGATES to the convention they may know and tell them they OPPOSE the rules change and want them to support a move on the floor to amend this change via the MINORITY REPORTS – and support a demand for a ROLL CALL VOTE if necessary.
3) We need them to contact the CONVENTION RULES COMMITTEE members for their state (each state has two) and tell them they want them to SIGN THE MINORITY REPORTS before Tuesday’s session at 2:00PM. You can find a copy of the list here.
4) Finally, we would like them to help us spread the word that this is an insider power grab by a bunch of DC Beltway types who want consultants to be able to pick who the delegates are from their respective states in the future – AS WELL AS FUTURE PLATFORM COMMITTEE MEMBERS. Post a link to this page on Facebook and Twitter…spread the word on the media…COMPLAIN. Let everyone know this is wrong, and that it is ANTI-GRASSROOTS!
Here’s a piece on the Texas GOP delegation revolting against the proposed changes:
Texas prides itself on being a state party whose members choose who will go the national convention. It’s a grassroots — versus top-town — approach, said James Dickey, an at-large alternate from Bee Cave.
Dickey said the result of the change, if it is approved, could be drastic.
“It would dampen enthusiasm a lot,” Dickey said. “It would dampen excitement about running to be a delegate.”
With the support of Texas’ delegates, Munisteri said he’s ready to take the fight to the floor of the convention.
In a letter to the national rules committee, the Texas delegation said: “The only way a floor fight can be avoided is if the rule is stricken.”
An email to the party was not returned, but Munisteri said the thinking behind the proposal was to ensure delegates vote for the candidate they are supposed to support in the nomination process.
The national party has been trying to dissuade states from objecting to what some people see as a power-grab by the national party, Munisteri said.
He added that it is ironic that a party that is supposed to be opposed to heavy-handed oversight would try to employ such a tactic.
“Somebody needs to wake up, and it’s not Texas,” said Butch Davis, a Texas representative to the national rules committee.
Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks is on the scene. Many Romney supporters are now coming forward to disavow the Romney campaign-led effort:
“We’re asking activists to talk to every state party leader. The worry here is that you’re flipping the whole process on its head. It used to be that the grassroots chose the delegates, and the delegates choose the candidates. They’re essentially creating a rule where the candidate can disavow any delegate that doesn’t toe the line,” Kibbe said.
“If you disenfranchise the delegates, you create a real threat of splintering the party,” he said. “Presumably the goal of the Romney camp is to prevent any sort of dissent going into 2016.” But Kibbe added that there would be a higher likelihood of disaffected grassroots and perhaps even the creation of a third party.
The measure was one of several adopted last Friday by the convention’s rules committee. Secretary of State Brian Kemp said he opposed the change in dispute, which would negate laws currently in place in several states that bind delegates to a specific candidate.
However, Kemp said he didn’t sign the minority report that protested the change, and which tea partyers will attempt to bring to the full convention for a floor vote. (The minority report also makes changes to the election calendar that could boost Georgia’s influence in the next primary, which Kemp supports.)
Kemp told delegates that he anticipates a floor fight tomorrow.
Six state delegations must insist on bringing the measure forward before it becomes eligible for a roll call vote. However, the chances are slim that convention delegates would reject the entire GOP platform if it is put forward in a single piece.
“I will not pretend that the deck is not stacked against us,” Morton Blackwell, a longtime conservative leader and Virginia delegate, wrote in an email that’s rapidly making its way around Tampa.
The object of the rule change is to prevent state delegation takeovers in states like Massachusetts and Nevada, where Romney delegates were nearly erased by Paul enthusiasts.
“We know what it’s aimed at, but you don’t cut off your nose to spite your face,” said Georgia delegate Debbie Dooley, a tea party activist.
Julianne Thompson of Georgia’s GOP delegation — a Romney delegate — weighs in.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE
By: Julianne Thompson – National Delegate, Georgia
Chairman Reince Preibus, members of the Rules Committee, and the entire voting delegation of the 2012 Republican National Convention:
As a National Delegate to the 2012 RNC, I am extremely disappointed that a rule would be passed through committee that essentially strips the grassroots of all of it’s representative power by ridding State Parties of their ability to choose whom they will send as delegates and alternates to represent their State to the Republican National Convention. The rules change would allow the Presidential nominee sweeping new power to override that process and choose their own National Delegates. The rule also allows the RNC (with only a 3/4 vote) the power to amend the party’s rules without a vote by the full Republican National Convention.
The GOP is the political Party of the grassroots. Our national delegates are the boots-on-the-ground that get Republicans elected. We are there for County meetings, State Conventions, National Conventions, and most importantly we spend our time and money canvassing our neighborhoods, going door to door, making phone calls, writing personal endorsement letters, and getting-out-the-vote for Republicans. We are the worker bees, and we are the heart and soul of the Republican Party.
We have always believed that our Party is the one who best represents what it means to be an American…freedom! With your current attempt at this rules change, you are essentially striking the first blow that chips away at that freedom, and you disenfranchise the very people that turned the tide for the GOP in 2010 by returning power in the U.S. House of Representatives to Republicans.
I would like to hope that our nominee is unaware of the skullduggery that occurred with regard to this attempt at shutting out the people that have unified to help him win in November. The audacity of creating a firestorm when there is an opportunity for unity and peace that is needed to win back the Senate and take back the White House is irresponsible and I seriously question the motives of those behind this attempt.
Why the change in rules? That is the million-dollar question, and it is fairly easy to answer. There are still those in place in the GOP and on campaigns that would like to use the delegate and alternate seats as rewards for donating large checks to campaigns and the RNC.
If your desire is to win elections, then I strongly suggest that you engage the grassroots and show respect to those who help put you in power.
During a time that should ring of unity, you have put the GOP at a crossroads. Do you want to win this election and future elections? Now is your opportunity to prove it. Either take it to the floor and let us vote it down, and better yet, pull this insulting attempt to disenfranchise the heart and soul of our Republican Party!
Julianne Thompson, National Delegate for Mitt Romney – Georgia
There’s a storm brewing in Florida…and it’s not Isaac. Smells like a healthy pot of Tea Party pushback. Stay tuned…
More delegate e-mail and petition info/action alert here.
The Republican Liberty Caucus e-mails:
…It’s the biggest story of the convention and the major media outlets are missing it as they focus on weather reports and fluff pieces on Romney.
For the first time in years you’re likely to see a real floor fight tomorrow over proposed changes to the party rules. The rules committee produced a proposal which takes away the autonomy of state parties and massively increases the power of the central committee and the states are fighting back with a minority report and a wave of protest which is sweeping through the party rank and file. This confrontation transcends ideological lines and is about whether the Republican Party will remain a party run by its members or merely become a tool of special interests.
The first state to split from the establishment plan and speak up against proposed changes was Texas but it has now been joined by a number of other state delegations including Iowa, Nevada, Nebraska, Minnesota, Virginia, South Carolina, Indiana and probably more by the time you receive this. Opposition is snowballing because Republicans don’t want to see their party traditions tossed aside by big government insiders.
In addition, many grassroots activist groups and prominent leaders have come on board opposing the changes. The Republican Liberty Caucus was one of the first, but we’ve been joined by Eagle Forum, FreedomWorks and many Tea Party Groups. These are goups we’re often at odds with ideologically, but we all agree that the integrity of [the] party and standing by republican principles is of the highest importance.
Please locate the phone number of your State Republican Party Headquarters below, call them immediately, and tell them to oppose Romney’s new rules that strip grassroots activists of the ability to participate in the Republican platform process:
Alabama (205) 212-5900
Alaska (907) 276-4467
Arizona (602) 957-7770
Arkansas (501) 372-7301
California (916) 448-9496
Colorado (303) 758-3333
Connecticut (860) 422-8211
Delaware (302) 668-1954
District of Columbia (202) 289-8005
Florida (850) 222-7920
Georgia (404) 257-5559
Hawaii (808) 593-8180
Idaho (208) 343-6405
Illinois (312) 201-9000
Indiana (317) 635-7561
Iowa (515) 282-8105
Kansas (785) 234-3456
Kentucky (502) 875-5130
Louisiana (225) 389-4495
Maine (207) 622-6247
Maryland (410) 263-2125
Michigan (517) 487-5413
Minnesota (651) 222-0022
Mississippi (601) 948-5191
Missouri (573) 636-3146
Montana (406) 442-6469
Nebraska (402) 475-2122
New Hampshire (603) 225-9341
North Carolina (919) 828-6423
Oregon (503) 595-8881
South Dakota (605) 224-7347
Vermont (802) 223-3411
Wisconsin (608) 257-4765
Nevada (702) 258-9182
New Jersey (609) 989-7300
North Dakota (701) 255-0030
Pennsylvania (717) 234-4901
Tennessee (615) 269-4260
Virginia (804) 780-0111
Wyoming (307) 234-9166
New Mexico (505) 298-3662
Ohio (614) 228-2481
Rhode Island (401) 732-8282
Texas (512) 477-9821
Washington (425) 460-0570
New York (518) 462-2601
Oklahoma (518) 462-2601
South Carolina (803) 988-8440
Utah (803) 988-8440
West Virginia (304) 768-0493
Much more from TwitchyTeam here.
My dear friend and stalwart conservative activist Kirby Wilbur, chair of Washington state GOP, tweets that “Washington state delegation will support minority report.”
9:12pm Eastern According to the Houston Chronicle, a “deal” has been reached on the so-called Rule 15.
Republican leaders moved Monday to quell an uprising by Texans and Ron Paul supporters that threatened to steal the spotlight from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and expose rifts in the party right as its nominating convention got under way.
Under a compromise reached late Monday, Romney supporters and GOP leaders agreed to back down from a proposed rule change that effectively would have allowed presidential nominees to choose what delegates represent them at national conventions.
…Under the deal, delegates who are bound to a presidential candidate that hasn’t bowed out of the race or released them to vote for another contender are barred from casting a vote for a different person. During this convention, the change effectively would mean a delegate bound to Mitt Romney could not instead opt to throw his or her support behind Ron Paul, who has not freed his delegates.
Any vote for another candidate would be voided and the delegate would lose his or her position.
But under the compromise, states would still able to select individual delegates under their own laws and party rules. GOP leaders agreed to remove the rule change provision that would have allowed state-party-selected delegates to be disavowed.
Spokesmen for the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee did not respond to requests for comment.
So they’ve extended an olive branch to try and paper over the brewing dissent. Is it enough? I’ll update with reaction from grass-roots as the news spreads…
Update: Here’s the NYTimes also reporting that deal has been reached, relying on Romney camp and one delegate (James Bopp, who had objected prominently).
Anyone else find it troubling that Romney and his legal team appear to have gone to the Fishwrap of Record and Hearst Newspapers before telling all the actual delegates themselves of the proposed deal???
Julianne Thompson, the Georgia delegate for Romney who voiced strong opposition to the power grab, tweeted me tonight:
“Hi Michelle -at first glance, I do feel the new verbiage is fair, if indeed it is as stated. Going to really study it.”
Update: 10:53pm Eastern…So here’s the upshot. As you read above in Drew’s summary, grass-roots activists revolted over Rule 15 (the delegate selection provision to be renumbered Rule 16) and Rule 12 (the power grab that would allow the RNC to make executive convention rule changes and rewrite the rules between conventions without any input/consultation with grass-roots, delegates, or state leadership on hand).
As long as the proposed Rule 12 remains in place, this “deal” or “compromise” must be a no-go. Don’t back down, activists!
A source tells me the situation on the ground and in delegate meetings right now is “tense” and “dynamic.” It’s a very healthy alternative to stale, apathetic, passive, and static.
I am also hearing complaints of heavy-handed legal maneuvering involving the brave dissenters.
Watch it with those brass knuckles, GOP brass.
This is a showdown worth having — the flexing of Tea Party/grass-roots muscle is a reminder that the rank-and-file are a force never to be taken for granted.
Update: 11:53pm Eastern Sarah Palin weighs in while campaigning on the road in Arizona. From her Facebook page:
We have to remember that this election is not just about replacing the party in power. It’s about who and what we replace it with. Grassroots conservatives know this. Without the energy and wisdom of the grassroots, the GOP would not have had the historic 2010 electoral victories. That’s why the controversial rule change being debated at the RNC convention right now is so very disappointing. It’s a direct attack on grassroots activists by the GOP establishment, and it must be rejected.
And one last update from stalwart foot soldier on the ground, Drew McKissick, who e-mails tonight:
Just as an update, it’s been a busy evening as you’ve probably gathered. It looks like there’s an acceptable compromise on the table on rule 15/16, but nothing yet on them pulling back the new “rule 12”, which lets the RNC change the rules between conventions.
They try to sell this to people with the idea that it is a high bar (75%), but a few things:
1) As longtime conservative activist and RNC committeeman from VA Morton Blackwell points out, this is no safeguard, because the chairman generally gets whatever the chairman wants. No disrespect intended to Priebus in that, but who knows who the next chairman may be. He points out that the chair always has lots of favors to give away.
2) The RNC has never had this power before (with the minor exception limited to the fixing of the primary calendar issue in 2008 in order to coordinate w/various state governments and Democrats). Rule making authority has ALWAYS been with the convention…and it remains set for 4 years…so ALL campaigns or potential campaigns konw what the rules will be. If the RNC has this authority, it will soon become a battleground for various presidential contenders looking to monkey with the rules to give themselves a leg up over the competition.
3) If this is so necesary for some specific purpose, why not limit it to that purpose? Kind of makes you wonder…
Bottom line, everyone I’ve talked to so far is holding fast on objecting to Rule 12 and supportive of a minority report…as well as having the states necessary to require a roll call vote on it if necessary.
All that needs to happen to turn this off is for them to agree to pull this rule back at the same time they move the compromise on Rule 15/16. Then we can all go have a beer can celebrate and then start focusing on fighting Democrats.
Please encourage people to continue to contact Rules Committee members and party leaders and keep the pressure on opposing Rule 12.
Update 9am MT 8/28: Erick Erickson writes this morning:
At 2:00 p.m. today in Tampa, the Republican National Committee, led by Team Romney, is moving to shut down conservative grassroots activists. I’ve been on the phone with several individuals involved in the fight who tell me that the fight is not over, it is only just starting.
Specifically, the media is reporting that the rules fight is over because Team Romney is abandoning Ben Ginsberg’s effort to allow candidates to control delegates. Under an initial proposal, delegates would, in effect, be chosen by the presumed nominee’s campaign and not based on votes in the states and delegate selection processes in the states.
That issue appears resolved, but several people I’ve spoken to make clear that Team Romney and the RNC establishment are using that compromise as a red herring to distract from two major rules change proposals that would decimate Republican grassroots and prevent upstart political campaigns.
The first rule to be proposed is one that would give the Republican National Committee the power to change rules between conventions with a three-quarters vote of the RNC. One source tells me, “With a Republican President, of course this is doable. Everybody will roll over if a President Romney asks them too. They’ll be able to get Ben Ginsberg’s proposal next year.”
In other words, if Team Romney prevails in this rules change, they don’t have to worry about Ben Ginsberg not getting his way today on the delegate changes. They’ll be able to do it later when the press and grassroots are not watching.
Take note of this reporting from Shane Wright and Jim Hoft at FreedomWorks:
he ramifications for grassroots activist and state GOP’s are vast. This rule change would allow a candidate to select his or her own delegates, essentially the nominee would get to choose those who nominate him instead of the states. This proposed rule change is starting to sound more like an Obama executive order.
Tom Washington, who is speaking on his own accord but serves as the Assistant Treasurer for the Republican Party of Texas, told us, “If Romney, or any other candidate can select their own delegates the entire convention process will have been hijacked and eliminate the grassroots influence.”
Another source, Cathie Adams, the former chair of the Republican Party of Texas, told us that this could be destined to floor fight. Adams added, “We want the freedom to elect our own delegates. It’s motivated by the grassroots influence.”Adams also said Romney’s attorney may be working to influence members of the rules committee.
The RNC is trying to pass an amendment to RNC Rule 12 that would allow the RNC Committee to amend the rules. In the future, if the grassroots is able to influence the convention process and RNC leadership is displeased, they will have a contingency plan where they can reconvene and with a three-fourths majority to rewrite the rules without the influence of any state party, grassroots organization or delegate.
Please Act Now–
Update: And the latest from Freedomworks….
Basically, this so-called “compromise” on delegate selection in Rule 15 means nothing as long as Rule 12 allows the RNC to change the rules without oversight. Rule 12 would enable an RNC chairman to enact almost any rules change he or she desired, centralizing control of the party and removing the input of grassroots activists. This is an insider, establishment shell game at its worst.
Please call your state’s Rules Committee delegates here and ask that they oppose the “compromise” on Rule 15, oppose the changes to Rule 12, and support the full Minority Reports on the Rules.
According to www.preservetheparty.com, a website started this week by delegates to help raise awareness on this issue, proposed rule 12 reads: “The Republican National Committee may, by three-fourths (3/4) vote of its entire membership, amend Rule Nos. 1-11 and 13-25. Any such amendment shall be considered by the Republican National Committee only if it was passed by a majority vote of the Standing Committee on Rules after having been submitted in writing at least ten (10) days in advance of its consideration by the Republican National Committee and shall take effect thirty (30) days after adoption. No such amendment shall be adopted after September 30, 2014.
The language of rule 12 makes the compromise on Rule 16, which would essentially allow a candidate to hire and fire delegates as they see fit, a farce, the RNC can simply go back and rewrite the rules once the convention is over.
I spoke with Jeremy Blosser, a Texas delegate, who is furious over the compromise because it does not address proposed rule 12.
“Some are answering that Rule 12 has checks and balances, but far too much is being made of these. There’s no “emergency changes only” requirement, and it’s clear from the debate offered in the committee that the intention is to not restrict it to emergency changes but to allow consideration of substantive and controversial changes that the candidates prevent being discussed during the convention media cycle. There’s no ratification requirement such as requiring a number of State Executive Committees to ratify, or the next national convention to ratify. There’s no attempt to preserve the strength of the individual states.”
If this rule stands it will operate as a contingency plan for the RNC, should Grassroots organizations gain more influence than RNC leadership is comfortable with. This must be stopped.
The vote is happening today. Please call your state’s Rules Committee delegates here and voice your opposition to the “compromise” on Rule 15, as well as to the changes to Rule 12, and support the full Minority Reports on the Rules.
Update 12:23pm Eastern Rush Limbaugh weighed in this afternoon: “The establishment GOP wants to kick conservatives out of the party.”
Update: Freedomworks’ Michael Duncan reports a purge may now be underway:
just got off the phone with a concerned Florida activist, Laura Noble, who informed me that both of Florida’s Rules Committee members, Peter Feaman and Kathleen King, have been removed from the Rules committee and replaced with Romney-appointed delegates.
Clearly anticipating a grassroots backlash against the “compromise” on Rule 15 and the changes on Rule 12 has caused the Romney camp to preemptively replace delegates to ensure they have support on the Rules Committee.
It’s enough to make your blood boil. Please call your state’s Rules Committee delegates here and ask that they oppose the “compromise” on Rule 15, oppose the changes to Rule 12, and support the full Minority Reports on the Rules.
Update 1:15pm Eastern From FW’s Michael Duncan:
— Michael Duncan (@MichaelDuncan) August 28, 2012
Shorter Romney Team to grass-roots: Shut up.
Update 2:50pm Eastern…The Rules Committee just voted 78-14 to accept the Romney-approved deal on Rules 15(16) and 12. There is now an effort to gather enough signatures to force a floor vote on the minority report. 25 percent of committee members are needed.
Apparently, the Virginia delegation was stuck on a bus and didn’t make it in time for the vote.
Update 3:34pm Eastern Dissidents have until 3:47pm Eastern to gather enough signatures to force the floor vote, according to right-leaning Examiner’s Tim Carney, who is on scene. Left-leaning BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller, also on scene, says it appears dissidents have gathered enough signatures for minority report on Rule 12, but not yet on Rule 15(16).
Carney says that Drew McKissck has emailed a minority report to RNC leaders within the rules deadline…
Update: 4:34pm Eastern Well, that was…something else. First, Maine delegates were replaced with Romney people. Then, rules chairman John Sununu and GOP Speaker of the House John Boehner stood on stage at the RNC to rule on the compromise rules report. No minority report was mentioned. When asked for yeas and nays on the report, the room seemed equally divided. Boehner forged ahead and approved the report over loud boos and calls of “point of order” from activists on the floor.
No vote on the minority report.
FW’s Dean Clancy observes: “If @SpeakerBoehner had been wielding the Speaker’s gavel instead of the GOP convention gavel, he wouldn’t have gotten away with that trick.”
And the show went on…GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn just declared that “this has been a great exercise in grass-roots” and that GOP stands for “Great Opportunity Party.”
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Watch until about 2:39:00 when Speaker of the House John Boehner takes the podium and asks for a voice vote on the rules. The “nays” from the floor were at least as loud as the “yeas,” but Boehner approved the rules “without objection.”
What a joke.
Meanwhile, a North Dakota delegate texted me from the floor of the convention saying that they were instructed to chant “USA” (you can hear it during the video) to drown out the dissenters.
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