Posted tagged ‘Republican Party platform’

GOP platform gets Trump-ified

July 13, 2016

GOP platform gets Trump-ified, The Hill, Jonathan Easley, July 13, 2016

CLEVELAND — Donald Trump is putting his stamp on the official policy platform of the Republican Party.

Now, the party has fully embraced one of Trump’s most controversial proposals, explicitly calling for a wall that must cover “the entirety of the Southern Border and must be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.”

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Republican Platform Committee members on Tuesday voted to include language calling for the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

And in a nod their presumptive presidential nominee’s support for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration, they also endorsed language that would impose “special scrutiny” of foreign nationals seeking to enter the U.S. from “regions associated with Islamic terrorism.”

Both provisions are departures from the GOP platform of 2012, when Republicans nominated Mitt Romney for president.

That party platform then called for completing “double-layered fencing” on the border, which was ordered by Congress in 2006 but never completed. It was silent on any special scrutiny of Muslims or other people from countries associated with Islamic extremism.

The language on a border wall is a significant shift away from the “autopsy” report written by the Republican National Committee after Romney’s defeat. That report emphasized the need for the party to appeal to Hispanic voters to win back the White House.

Platform Committee members described the endorsement of Trump’s immigration proposals as evidence the party is fully embracing him on the issues that have energized his supporters and infuriated his critics.

“Back on June 16 of 2015, Donald Trump proposed this, and it resonated with the people of America,” said Stephen Stepanek, a committee member and delegate from New Hampshire who endorsed Trump last month.

“So not only is the Platform Committee recognizing the position Donald Trump has held throughout the primary process, it has been endorsed by the American people, who have overwhelmingly supported his positions and overwhelmingly made him the presumptive nominee.”

Trump and his supporters have largely kept a low profile as the committee crafts the policy platform, which delegates will consider at the Republican National Convention next week.

But they have made their marks on issues like immigration and trade that have been the cornerstones of Trump’s campaign.

The only mention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the international trade deal crafted by the Obama administration that Trump vehemently opposes — was stricken from an early draft of the platform.

The language on the border wall passed unanimously through a subcommittee and did not attract any opposition or amendments at the full committee hearing.

It passed easily on Tuesday without any additional debate.

The only change to the immigration plank came when Trump supporter Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of State who helped write part of Trump’s immigration plan, interjected to ensure the platform would refer to “illegal aliens” rather than “illegal immigrants.”

Getting the wall built into the platform is a big win for the Trump campaign as it seeks normalize the proposals that some party leaders have been loath to embrace.

“The Romney campaign was very heavy handed about influencing the platform,” said Oregon delegate Russ Walker, who was on the Platform Committee in 2012 and this year.

“It’s far less that way this time from the Trump campaign. What’s happened is the current Platform Committee is in sync with Trump and using language in the platform to say the things they’ve wanted to say for some time.”

Trump’s promise to build a wall to keep people from illegally crossing into the U.S. has been one of the primary drivers of his insurgent campaign and a flashpoint for controversy.

And the committee has reworded its policy document to match the presumptive nominee’s campaign promises.

The 2012 platform said the double-layer fencing “must finally be built.”

The working draft of this year’s platform called for “construction of a physical barrier,” but Trump supporters saw that language as being open to weaker interpretations.

Now, the party has fully embraced one of Trump’s most controversial proposals, explicitly calling for a wall that must cover “the entirety of the Southern Border and must be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.”

Kelly Armstrong, a Platform Committee member and delegate from North Dakota, told The Hill, “I support the presumptive nominee, and so putting language in there to support his proposals is a good idea.”

“At the end of the day, a strong immigration policy is something Republicans will support, and we’ll support our nominee’s positions on that.”

But some Republican critics of the plan say it’s impossible to build a border wall on the rough terrain along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) told The Hill in an interview on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that adopting the wall into the party’s platform doesn’t make it any more likely to happen.

“It doesn’t really matter,” Simpson said. “You still have to appropriate money for it. Mexico’s not going to pay for it. There are places where a wall is appropriate, but you’re not going to build a wall down the whole 2,300 miles on the border.”

The platform does not address Trump’s promise that Mexico will pay for the wall.

And some Republicans have warned that the proposal will further turn away Hispanic voters.

Following the 2012 elections, the Republican National Committee issued an assessment meant to keep Republicans from losing the White House race again.

The RNC report warned that minorities “wrongly think Republicans do not like them or want them in the country.”

Now some fear Trump’s vow to build the wall, as well as his saying that most Mexican immigrants bring crime over the border, has reversed any progress the party has made.

“I’ve found you can’t look at the Hispanic voters monolithically — there are plenty of folks who came here legally who respect that process and do not appreciate people who ignore that process,” said Giovanni Cicione, a Rhode Island delegate on the Platform Committee. “That being said, those same people probably have relatives here illegally, so it becomes a difficult question.”

But most Republicans on the Platform Committee dismissed those worries.

“I’m not concerned about that,” said Darcie Johnston, a Platform Committee member from Vermont. “That’s more of a press narrative.”

For the most part, delegates on the panel viewed their votes as a reflection of proposals that have widespread support among grassroots conservatives.

They say they believe that bringing the platform in line with Trump on immigration will unite the party and capitalize on enthusiasm from the base.

“By the time we leave the Platform Committee meeting and by the time Republican delegates leave Cleveland, we’ll go home united and ready to support Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, a delegate on the committee.

“You’re going to see a very united Republican Party,” she continued. “So many [delegates] have already come around. … A number of individuals are no longer talking about how they wish their candidate had won. They’re talking about what can we do to help Donald Trump.”

GOP Strengthens Israel Platform Following Free Beacon Expose

July 12, 2016

GOP Strengthens Israel Platform Following Free Beacon Expose, Washington Free Beacon, July 11, 2016

(Please see also, Glick: AIPAC’s Moment of Decision. — DM)

Republican Party leaders reinserted key pro-Israel language into its 2016 platform on Monday following an exclusive Free Beacon report late last week describing efforts by certain elements of the GOP in 2012 to weaken language pertaining to the Jewish state.

The GOP decided to reinsert language describing Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital and remove language advocating in favor of Palestine, according to reports on the final 2016 platform language.

The Free Beacon revealed last week that some party leaders affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the nation’s top pro-Israel lobbying shop, quietly pursued efforts in 2012 to remove references to an “undivided” Jerusalem and add language supporting Palestine.

These changes, viewed by many as an effort to water down the pro-Israel language, were opposed by a separate delegation of Republican leaders, who told the Free Beacon that AIPAC allies strong-armed platform committee members in order to force through the 2012 language.

AIPAC’s goal, the sources claimed, was to bring the GOP platform more in line with its Democratic counterpart. The lobby also opposed efforts from some Republicans to include alternative language viewed by many as more pro-Israel than what was ultimately included in the 2012 platform.

AIPAC has denied the charges.

Video: AIPAC Allies Weakened Pro-Israel Language in 2012 GOP Platform

July 8, 2016

Video: AIPAC Allies Weakened Pro-Israel Language in 2012 GOP Platform, Washington Free Beacon: , July 8, 2016

(There seems to be no suggestion the GOP  pro-Israel platform for 2016 has yet been weakened, although there appear to be efforts to that end that AIPAC may make. — DM)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, Monday, March 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, Monday, March 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the nation’s foremost pro-Israel lobby, pursued a quiet campaign to weaken pro-Israel language in the Republican Party’s 2012 platform, according to video obtained by the Washington Free Beacon and sources who attended the 2012 platform committee deliberations.

The sources described AIPAC’s bid to weaken the GOP’s language on Israel as an attempt to bring it more in line with the Democratic Party’s platform, in order to reinforce the perception long promoted by AIPAC that both parties are equally pro-Israel.

The lobby’s ultimately successful effort to weaken the 2012 pro-Israel language left some Republicans angered, according to sources who told the Free Beacon that the fight over the platform’s Israel language is likely to revive next week in Cleveland, when AIPAC will again face Republicans who advocate language that is more pro-Israel than that of the Democratic Party. AIPAC denies working to water down pro-Israel language in the 2012 GOP platform.

AIPAC-backed changes to the 2012 platform included the removal of support for an “undivided” Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as the removal of language calling for the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The 2008 Republican platform stated: “We support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital of Israel.”

That language was not included in the 2012 version, which states: “[W]e envision two democratic states—Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine—living in peace and security.”

During the 2012 discussions, the removal of the 2008 language was carried out at the behest of members of the platform committee who were allied with AIPAC, according to video of the session obtained by the Free Beacon.

The video shows amended language being proposed on behalf of Sue Lynch, a past president of the National Federation of Republican Women, a staunch pro-Israel advocate, and a close ally of AIPAC who has spoken at AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference. Free Beacon sources involved in the platform fight said that the language changes proposed by Lynch were encouraged by AIPAC.

When reached for comment, Lynch told the Free Beacon that during the 2012 platform meetings she “worked with AIPAC to insure strong language supporting” Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. When asked about the video footage showing an amendment bearing her name removing the “undivided” language and the endorsement of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, she said, “that doesn’t seem correct” and added that “my memory recalls supporting Jerusalem as the capital.”

Yet when delegates who opposed the AIPAC-supported changes presented alternative language that reaffirmed the GOP’s 2008 position, Lynch and others succeeded in defeating it according to subsequent video footage obtained by the Free Beacon.

The alternate language stated, “We desire Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state with Jerusalem as its undivided and eternal capital, and call for the American embassy to be moved there in fulfillment of U.S. law,” according to a copy obtained by the Free Beacon.

Lynch told the Free Beacon that “I did not support their efforts” to revive the 2008 language.

The initial platform-drafting meeting ended without resolution and the dispute was taken up at a meeting the next day.

In the hours between the two meetings, AIPAC allies are said to have privately persuaded delegates to oppose the alternative resolution.

A live broadcast of the platform committee’s final meeting hints at the internal discord that had erupted behind-the-scenes over the Israel language.

Randy Page, a delegate from South Carolina, led the failed effort to replace the AIPAC-approved platform with the alternate language supported by a significant number of Republican leaders.

“With all due respect, I believe that our present plank on Israel is way off base,” Page said during a live CSPAN broadcast of the platform committee’s meeting.

“Our present Israel platform is a nearly identical copy of the Democrat’s Israel platform,” Page said. “Check it out for yourself if you don’t believe me. Now let me ask: How many of you here today agree with President Obama’s policy of pressuring Israel? Because our platform sure seems to. That is not what’s in the heart of everyday Republicans who stand with Israel.”

The platform committee again ended its session without resolving the Israel issue.

Top Republican leaders aligned with AIPAC completed the final language behind closed doors, sources said. Excluded from that meeting were delegates who had backed the alternative pro-Israel language.

When the final platform was unveiled at the 2012 convention, all of AIPAC’s recommended changes were included, sources claimed. References to an “undivided” Jerusalem and the relocation of the U.S. embassy were omitted.

AIPAC denies that it worked to strip language advocating an undivided Jerusalem and moving the U.S. embassy there.

The charges are “not true,” an AIPAC spokesman told the Free Beacon. “AIPAC’s position has consistently been that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, should remain undivided, and we have supported moving the U.S. embassy there—and that remains our position.”

“AIPAC actually worked to strengthen the 2012 Republican platform on Jerusalem,” the spokesman said. “When it was noticed that Jerusalem was omitted from the original draft, we urged that language be included reflecting Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

A source close to AIPAC told the Free Beacon that the only discussion AIPAC was involved in surrounded the issue of a two-state solution, which AIPAC supports.

The source further maintained that the original GOP platform proposal did not include any language mentioning an undivided Jerusalem. AIPAC staffers noticed this omission and recommended that such language be included, according to the source, who added that there was never any effort from AIPAC to weaken the platform language, but instead strengthen it.

While language on Jerusalem was ultimately added to the platform, the term “undivided” was rejected.

One source involved in drafting the 2012 platforms told the Free Beacon that AIPAC sought to ensure that the Republican and Democratic platforms used similar language with regards to Israel—despite objections from leaders in both parties.

GOP delegate Alan Clemmons, a South Carolina state representative, maintained AIPAC was behind efforts to suppress the alternate language and drag the GOP closer in line with the Democratic Party.

“The Obama years have proven a disastrous misery for anyone who cares about Israel,” Clemmons said. “AIPAC’s only responding tactic has been to pull the Republicans leftward in order to manufacture the appearance of bipartisanship. This has significantly lowered the bar in the process of making policy, so much so that we may now have to live with a nuclear Iran for example.”

Another source involved in the fight to strengthen the platform’s language told the Free Beacon that AIPAC is working to undermine its own agenda. The lobby played a key role in pushing 1995 legislation requiring the U.S. embassy in Israel be moved to Jerusalem.

“It’s strange that AIPAC, which led on this issue in 1995 with the Jerusalem Embassy Act that requires the U.S. government to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move our embassy there, has now gutted support for the same policy in both parties’ platforms,” the source said. “Major leaders in the Democratic Party today like Harry Reid, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Patty Murray, Diane Feinstein, Charles Rangel, Charles Schumer, and Dick Durbin, were all co-sponsors of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.”

“So not only has AIPAC walked the Democrats back from an undivided Jerusalem, they’ve succeeded in steering the Republican party away from an undivided Jerusalem as well. And they did it by tricking people,” the source said.

The 2012 controversy is viewed by some members of the platform drafting committee as a prelude to a similar dispute that will play out in the 2016 drafting meetings. Clemmons says he will lead the charge to change the 2016 platform.

“Public polling has consistently proved that the GOP base does not support many of the positions being promoted by AIPAC,” he said. “The new language I will propose in Cleveland will accurately reflect the views of the base, and put support for Israel back into the hands of those everyday Americans whose support for Israel is the most honest and sincere.”

“Having been at the 2012 GOP Convention to personally witness AIPAC’s staff and operatives shamelessly kill the party’s support for an undivided Jerusalem, I can say that it was easily the most tragic and dishonest political episode I have ever witnessed,” Clemmons said.