TAMPA — Frustration over changes to the Republican Party's rules pushed through by the Romney Campaign on Friday may lead to a fight on the floor of the Republican National Convention on Monday.
The Convention Committee on Rules took a number of steps on Friday to weaken the power of state conventions and state parties, while consolidating the power of presidential candidates in the nominating process. Some of the changes — to require that delegations from statewide caucuses and primaries to the convention adhere to the will of voters — weakened the hand of insurgent-type candidates but have been well received by the committee. But a change allowing presidential candidates the right to vet their own delegates to the national convention has many state party officials up in arms — and they are planning to bring it to the convention floor.
The change, pushed by the Romney campaign's top lawyer Ben Ginsburg originally allowed candidates to select all the delegates bound to them in state contests. Now it allows candidates to refuse the delegate, requiring another in his or her stead to be selected by the state.
"The bottom line is that the change adopted today essentially allows the Presidential campaigns to pick there own delegates, which makes it a complete insider's ballgame and allows a bunch of Washington D.C. consultants to decide who does and doesn't get to be a delegate," said South Carolina delegate Drew McKissick.
McKissick is leading an effort to bring a "minority report" to the convention floor on Monday — essentially offering an amendment stripping the Ginsberg-backed changes from the Party rules and giving candidates no rights with respect to their delegates. The provision would also reinstate language requiring that all primaries and caucuses held before April 1 bind delegates proportionally, rather than winner-take-all — a measure to elongate the primary process.
McKissick told BuzzFeed late Friday that he has the votes to bring the minority report to the floor, setting the stage for debate and a vote on the rules changes on Monday.
The incident highlights the at-times tenuous grip Romney has on the grassroots and political organizations of his party. The coalition opposing the amendment includes Ron Paul supporters and state party officials who see the effort as overreach by national campaigns into the workings of their state.
One delegate raised the possibility of calling for a time-consuming roll call vote on the issue, which would require a majority of the delegations of six states.