GOP Panel Recommends Ideological Litmus Test for Republican Candidates
January 29, 2010A Republican Party panel on Thursday strongly backed a proposal that would require party officials to determine whether GOP candidates 'wholeheartedly' adhere to the party platform before they can win financial support.
The Republican National Committee's resolutions panel supported the measure as an alternative to another, more rigid proposal that would have forced GOP candidates to agree to a litmus test of 10 conservative principles before receiving party campaign dollars.
Party Chairman Michael Steele and state GOP leaders strongly opposed the litmus test proposal, which was sponsored by lawyer James Bopp, an RNC member from Indiana.
But Bopp said he supports the measure backed by the resolutions committee. He asserted it is "unprecedented" that the party will, if the resolution is enacted, force some ideological discipline among its candidates.
"I wanted some mechanism to hold our candidates accountable," he said, adding that adherence to the GOP platform is just one of the factors party leaders would have to consider.
"Republicans at their peril deviate from conservative principles," Bopp added. "I mean, we just nominated the poster boy for the moderates in (U.S. Sen.) John McCain (of Arizona), and he got defeated."
The latest proposal is sponsored by Bill Crocker, an RNC member from Texas, Bopp said. It is expected to be considered by the full RNC on Friday. If it fails, Bopp said he could force consideration of his original measure.
In an interview earlier Thursday, a leader of the Tea Party movement called on the RNC to accept Bopp's original amendment as a signal that the GOP really is interested in gaining support from the movement's members.
Dick Armey, chairman of FreedomWorks and a former House Republican leader from Texas, said the party's failure to establish a standard by which to measure candidate positions would hurt the GOP.
In that case, the GOP would need to demonstrate that action "is not a rejection of a commitment to small-government principles," Armey said.
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