Platform Adopted On First Day Of RNC Pulls Party To The Right

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Delegates hold up signs and cheer Monday -- the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.(Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Delegates hold up signs and cheer Monday -- the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.(Carolyn Kaster/AP)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — As the Republican National Convention enters day two in Cleveland, party delegates have been taking care of some routine business. On Monday, that meant approving a new platform, which pulls the party to the far right on a number of issues.

On the convention floor on Monday, just after party leaders managed to crush a push by anti-Trump delegates to disrupt the convention, they moved on to the business of passing the new Republican platform.

By acclamation, delegates adopted a platform that embraces some of Donald Trump's pet causes, like building a wall along the Mexican border. It also moves hard to the right on a number social issues that Trump says little about. For example, it calls for overturning marriage equality, condemning same-sex parenting and restricting transgender rights.

In Cleveland this week, it's hard to find delegates who approve of the entire document, but many are comfortable with a lot of it.

"I was very glad that part of the party platform was the endorsement of the wall with Mexico, the border security wall," said Tom Mountain, an alternative Trump delegate and the chairman of the local Republican Party of Newton. He doesn't like the part of the platform that would restrict LGBT rights — and he says it doesn't reflect Trump's campaign.

"What the platform says pertaining to all the gay Republicans, and what Mr. Trump believes, are two totally different things," Mountain said. "Mr. Trump has always been for gay rights."

What's striking about the new platform is how it seems to ignore the so-called Republican "autopsy" following the 2012 election. Among other things, the autopsy recommended opening the party up to make it more inclusive.

"That's the type of Republican Party I want to be a part of — a party that's including people, all kinds and all colors of people," said Keiko Orrall, a Massachusetts state representative, Trump supporter and incoming RNC committeewoman. "Because I want to grow and unify our party and help us get to a place where our message is getting out to all kinds of people."

Orrall says this platform, with its tough line on LGBT rights, risks taking the GOP in the opposite direction. But Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a co-chair of the platform committee, told CNN that denying LGBT rights means not giving special rights to a particular class of people.

"What we talked about was how can we make America great and how can we believe and stand for the human rights of all people — not just one segment, one class, one race," Fallin said.

But despite the debate and controversy about the platform, Peter Fariel says it just doesn't matter. Fariel is another alternate delegate from Massachusetts. He supports Marco Rubio.

"My experience is that party platforms don't have a lot of consequence, and they're often the subject of intense debate," Fariel said. "At the end of the day, it's the occupant of the White House that will drive the agenda regardless of what the platform planks say."

And history is full of examples of that, according to Roger Stone, a former adviser and longtime friend to Donald Trump.

"The 1972 Republican platform said that President Richard Nixon would never go to China nor would we ever recognize them. The 1968 Republican convention said we would adhere to the gold standard and hard money," Stone said. "Platforms are anachronism. They're largely meaningless. "

So why go through the process of adopting them? Stone says it's traditional and pleases the base of the party. But he says just about everyone recognizes they're not worth fighting over, because they're not binding.

But Mountain, the delegate from Newton, says platforms are worth the fight — because they send a message about the party. And he's worried about the message this platform sends to gays and lesbians.

"It would be akin to making an anti-Israel platform and trying to get more Jews in," Mountain said. "We need to get these people in — not because we need to get them in, but because it's the right thing to do. Otherwise they're just going to go to Hillary [Clinton]."

Mountain says just when the GOP should be expanding its tent, this platform is telling the LGBT community to stay out.

This segment aired on July 19, 2016.


Anthony Brooks Senior Political Reporter
Anthony Brooks is WBUR's senior political reporter.



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