Mitt Romney’s aim for the Republican Convention may be unification but, thanks to Team Romney over-reach, that may be a tall order. A convention floor fight is brewing, for Tuesday, and, given the storm delay, party minority forces—which include supporters of Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, as well as some top state party officials who back Romney—have an extra day to strategize and mount an attack on changes to the Party rules regarding delegates to the national convention.
Convention floor fights are rare and can be noisy and distracting—and the last thing Mitt Romney needs right now.
The trouble started on Friday when Ben Ginsberg, Team Romney’s top lawyer, took control of the powerful Convention Rules Committee and forced through changes “to correct what we saw as a damaging flaw in the presidential election process in 2012.”
Here’s how Raw Story described that drama:
Ginsberg had spent six hours successfully putting through his amendments, but when he proposed raising the threshold required for minority reports from 25% of a committee to 40%, the members rebelled.
He is systematically trying to prevent minorities from having even any remote opportunity of being heard,” longtime GOP operative Morton Blackwell objected. “This is wrong, it’s gonna hurt us, it’s gonna hurt our presidential candidate.”
That particular amendment was withdrawn, to cheers from the committee, but the others stood. According to a source who described the meeting to Business Insider, “the saga ended with former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, the committee chair, hightailing it out of the building before committee members could submit dissenting minority opinions, or ‘minority reports.
Ginsberg is, and has been for some time, the Republican Party’s all-round “go-to” guy in legal matters. He is a partner in the law firm of Patton Boggs, one of the premier DC lobbying firms and is a specialist in elections and campaign finance law.
Some of you might remember Ginsberg as George W. Bush’s senior attorney in Bush v. Gore; or as the attorney who had to resign his post as chief outside counsel to the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004, when the media publicized the fact that he was simultaneously representing the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who were attacking Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).
Jim Bopp, an Indiana National Committeeman, sent an email to the RNC yesterday describing the rules changes as an “overreaction” to Ron Paul and his supporters, calling them:
This is the biggest power grab in the history of the Republican Party because it shifts the power to select delegates from the state party to the candidate. And it would make the Republican Party a top down, not bottom up party.
South Carolina delegate Drew McKissick says:
The bottom line is that the change adopted today essentially allows the Presidential campaigns to pick there [sic] 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.
McKissick is spearheading the effort to bring a “minority report” to the convention floor on Tuesday. His report will recommend an amendment stripping the Ginsberg-backed changes from the Party rules and giving candidates no rights with respect to their delegates.
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 [Tuesday].
The prospect of a floor fight highlighting party divisions is not the only issue that is likely to trip up Romney as he tries to appeal to a wider, more moderate, middle class audience, while also keeping a loud, emboldened conservative base that doesn’t trust him, in check.
The Todd Akin “legitimate rape” flap has done Romney quantifiable damage with women voters and having Paul Ryan, whose views aren’t much different than Akin’s, by his side doesn’t help to dispel that stink. Not to mention the fact that Mike Huckabee, Todd Akin’s new BFF, is a prime-time featured speaker at the Convention.
Donald Trump (what can they be thinking?) will also be making an appearance, perhaps as a foil for more Romney “Birther” levity.
Michelle Bachmann will be speaking in several venues (and, possibly, tongues) and she and Herman Cain shared the stage for Unity Rally 2012 at a local church last night but, apparently, it wasn’t exactly a Romney Love-In.
ABC News reported:
The Unity Rally 2012, hosted by the TeaParty.net, Job Creator Solutions, and the Western Representation PAC took place on Sunday night before the official (and now postponed) start of the Republican Party’s convention. While the large, nondenominational church was packed with enthusiastic supporters of the tea party movement and the defeat of President Obama, fervor for presumptive nominee Mitt Romney was not so palpable.
“Well, you’ve got to vote, it’s not a matter of excited, it’s a matter of necessity. … We’ve got to get this man out of office,” said Jerry Edwards, a member of Golden Isles tea party in Georgia.
“I like Ryan,” one attendee told ABC News when asked how she felt about the Republican ticket.
Another TEA Party darling who will play a starring role is Ted Cruz, a Senate candidate in Texas who is being touted as a future party leader. One of Cruz’ wackier beliefs is that Islamic sharia law is an “enormous problem” in America. Cruz also has come out against elected officials marching in gay pride parades and he believes in the newest craze among conspiracy theorists—that the UN is secretly trying to undermine America’s economy and sovereignty.
Last, but not least, is the presence of Ron Paul’s following who have a three-day Ron Paul festival going on in Tampa, featuring the messiah Ron Paul, himself, speaking at the University of South Florida’s Sun Dome before a cheering audience of thousands of supporters.
As Paul Harris of The Observer noted:
Coverage is hardly likely to leave the impression that Romney heads a united or a moderate party.