The Daily Rundown | January 24, 2013
>>> it seems any time we talk about republicans these days, it's about a simmering fight between conservatives and establishment republicans. well, it's coming to a head again today as they gather for the rnc's winter meeting . here's the issue. it's a controversial rule change that sparked a republican civil war of sorts last summer and it threatens to drive the wedge deeper, as the party heads towards 2016 . today we're taking a deep dive into those rules. how they got changed, and how conservatives are trying to change them back. here's the deal. the rules were amended during the 2012 gop convention at the request of romney adviser ben ginsburg and former governor john sununu . in essence, they give a boost to establishment candidates like mitt romney and raise the bar for grassroots candidates like, oh, a guy named ron paul . when it came up for a vote, this was the reaction at the convention .
>> all those in favor, signify by saying aye!
>> all those opposed, no.
>> the ayes have it! the resolution has been adopted. [ booing and clapping ]
>> good old-fashioned strong arm politics there. anyway, here's what they're so upset about it. first, the amendments require that delegates sent to a convention on behalf of a candidate actually vote for that candidate. that means delegates are no longer free to cast their vote as they wish. that means the ron paul strategy of winning delegates at the state convention level is essentially thrown out the window, even if he wins them, those folks still have to vote for romney . second, they increase the number of states a candidate needs to win in order to get his or her name placed in the nomination from five states to eight states . third, their alter the gop's long-standing process of setting rules only at convention , and now allow the rnc to change them at any time. critics say those amendments amount to a power grab that give the establishment candidate and the party power brokers undo influence over the nomination process. in addition, they say it will make it harder for outsider candidates to have their voices heard. all this sets the stage for what's happening in charlotte right now. morton blackwell , a long-time member of the party's rules committee has sent open letters to rnc members and the leadership, calling the amendments a, quote, stupid move, and insisting that they be reconsidered. he writes, "what good is it to centralize power if doing so prevents us from recruiting new grassroots activists to our party and building an organization which can win future elections" morton blackwell is president of the leadership institute and he joins me now. he's been a longtime activist inside the rnc. mr. blackwell, good morning to you.
>> good morning to you, chuck.
>> let me start with the one rule that was changed, and this is what the romney folks feared. it had to do in places, for instance, out of the state of iowa , how far the state of nevada . ron paul did not win either state , and yet, there were a lot of delegates that were supposed to go to romney , that ended up having ron paul supporters fill that slot. shouldn't the romney folks feel as if delegates who are assigned to him, be forced to vote for him, at least on the first ballot?
>> chuck, you gave a remarkably good run down on some major aspects of the rules battle, but in this respect, you didn't get it quite right. what was at issue was not whether or not candidates got the delegate votes that they would win in a primary, but whether or not a presidential candidate could disallow and remove delegates that they didn't like. there was a big uproar over this. and there was no question, ever, that delegate votes won in a primary wouldn't be cast as allocated by state law .
>> let me stop you here. you, specifically say "primary." you believe it's different for caucus states ?
>> well, in a caucus situation, the people are actually elected as delegates, in some way, under state party rules. so it really wasn't an issue with respect to caucus states , because caucus and convention states , if there's no primary involved, the delegates that are elected get to vote the way they want, and candidates run people for delegates and those delegates win. the issue, however, was settled in the tampa convention , and the idea that candidates could disavow and remove dually elected delegates from the states was pulled out at the last minute, so that's not one of the points at issue, currently, in matters that relate to the republican rules. i think the real issue is, will the republican party remove the power grabs, which ben ginsburg, who you mentioned, oversaw in the convention rules committee , and i'm submitting a motion to repeal all those power grabs that can be repealed, by the republican national committee . and there's a lot of support on the national committee for that.
>> i imagine there would be. and the state , when it comes to national committee, very much state -based power situation. the state base always usually wins those fights, but does it say or does it reflect on mitt romney that there was sort of a lack of passion for him, that when it came to these state conventions, two and three months later, when it was clear that he was the nominee, he struggled at these state conventions, up against these ron paul supreme courts ?
>> well, the convention process is open at the bottom. and anybody who wants to participate is free to do so.
>> so why wasn't mitt romney 's people doing a better job there?
>> well, they just got out-organized. your activity at the ground level counts a whole lot. in the presidential election , the president and his allies beat romney and his allies, of which i was one, beat us at the ground level . there's no question the ground game for obama and his allies was much greater. that's another issue we've got to address --
>> and arguably, we saw this -- and arguably, this was foreshadowed, in some of these places, when ron paul was out organizing.
>> that could well be. the overwhelming issue is, however, will the republican party welcome newcomers and establishment people often are not inclined to do that. i trained thousands of conservatives through my leadership institute every year, and i can tell you that if we're going to build the republican party , we need to welcome newcomers. we need to treat them fairly and politely, and even cordially, and have to make allowances for people who are newcomers, who may not quite understand the procedures and may be a little rambunctious.
>> are you confident this is going to pass, your ability to rescind some of these orders?
>> i have no idea. it's going to be very difficult to pass, because under the change of rules, the republican national committee can change the rules, but it requires a three quarters vote of all of the 168 members of the national committee. so whether or not this change passes will largely depend upon whether the national chairman supports these changes.
>> morton blackwell , a virginia national republican committee member, longtime activist, conservative activist inside the party, thanks for coming on this morning.
>> my pleasure. thank you.
>> all right.
>>> the gaggle will be here next, but first, the white house soup of the day . i've been drinking and eating a lot of soup. black bean chorizo today. that's a cold soup. i'll take matza ball and chicken noodle . be sure to check out our