Compromise Apparently Reached On GOP Delegate Rules Changes

The changes to the delegate allocation rules for Republican Presidential elections which James Joyner and myself have written about over the past several days have, as James noted, stirred up no small degree of controversy. Ron Paul supporters have ended  up in an alliance of convenience with conservatives and Tea Party groups who see the rules as an effort to take power away from the grassroots of the party. With the threat of a floor fight later today looming, it appears that the parties have reached a compromise on the rule change:

But aides to Mr. Romney and activists who had opposed the rules said they had reached the compromise late Monday evening.

“Everyone feels good about the compromise hammered out,” said one Romney aide familiar with the negotiations. The aide asked to be anonymous to discuss private conversations, but said, “What you are seeing is different sides coming together within the party.”

Jim Bopp, a conservative delegate who had led the opposition to Mr. Romney’s proposed rules, issued a statement on Monday, saying he was pleased with the compromise.

“The Romney for President campaign has heard the concerns of the conservative grass-roots voices in our party and has crafted an amendment to the rules adopted on Friday to address these concerns,” Mr. Bopp said.

Under the compromise, delegates would be selected by the state and local level without interference or control by the party’s presidential candidate. That would allow competing voices inside the convention, both sides said.

But in a nod to the concerns of Mr. Romney’s campaign, delegates sent on behalf of a candidate would be required to vote to nominate that candidate on the first ballot. If they tried to vote for someone else, their vote would be recorded for the candidate to whom they were bound.

After this report, there were still some signs that not all the people upset about the rules changes were satisfied, but Buzzfeed reports today that the Romney camp is confident that they’ll be about to resolve the matter before it has to be taken up by the delegates:

“It’s an evolving process and its going well,” Romney aide Ron Kaufman, a longtime RNC insider, told BuzzFeed Tuesday morning.

“There’s a lays a little group that enjoys to fight for fight sake, God bless ’em,” he said, but said Bopp — ”a good friend and good ally” who has led the fight against campaign finance regulation — was not part of that group.

“Everyone wants the same thing,” he said.

Romney’s goal, he said, was merely to allow the party more flexibility in changing its rules in responding the changing political circumstances, something Democrats can do now and which, he said, “gives them a political advantage.”

As I said in my own post about this matter, the rule changes themselves seemed to me to make complete sense. The primary process itself becomes corrupted if losing candidates are able to use the state convention process to manipulate the delegate selection process, producing a result that does not correspond to the outcome of the popular vote. That entire process was an anachronism left over from the days when delegates, and candidates, were selected by party bosses. In the modern era, that task is supposed to be tied to the primary results and, to the extent that these rule changes make that possible, they are a good idea. Additionally, allowing the RNC to make rule changes when necessary rather than be bound by decisions made at previous political conventions seems to me to make sense as well.  What Ron Paul supporters and the others complaining about these rules are forgetting is that they are going to have to win support at the primary level if they ever really want to accomplish anything, playing parliamentary tricks will be deemed by many to be unfair and, if these new rules are adopted, won’t even be possible anymore.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. al-Ameda says:

    Well, I hope the Romney people caved in and will let the nuts have their say .

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Mark it on your calenders, “Republicans compromised.” Thought those days were long gone.

  3. Hey Doug, remember how a little while back you were wondering why the GOP primary field was so weak and that there were no serious contenders for the position? It was because of years of “sensible rules designed to let the candidate control the convention” that let the Bushes shut any threat to their power out of the party. You can’t demand rules that dictate a party of yes men and then wonder why the only people still around are yes men.