AUGUSTA, Maine — If the state’s Republican Party platform looks familiar, it’s no accident.
As backers of long-shot presidential candidate Ron Paul took over last weekend’s GOP convention, the delegates abandoned the proposed 2012 statement of party principles and adopted the same one that catered to tea party tastes two years ago.
Ron Morrell, a GOP state committeeman who was elected convention secretary, said Tuesday that the platform proposed to the 2012 convention was rejected as the convention ran late and neared adjournment, meaning the 2010 version remains in effect. The vote came after some opponents to the new platform objected and the majority of voting delegates agreed.
Pete Harring, Maine Tea Party founder who was elected as a Paul delegate to the GOP national convention, said his side didn’t set out to dump the new platform but changed course after it was clear Paul’s faction had taken over the state convention.
“We weren’t really going to fight that battle, but saw when the momentum was in our favor we decided to speak up,” said Harring, who was one of the speakers on the issue Sunday. Harring said supporters of the Texas congressman didn’t really oppose what was in the proposed 2012 platform.
“They didn’t really do a terrible job, but they watered down some portions,” he said.
The proposed 2012 platform, which was submitted to the convention by a committee covering diverse views within the party, was strong on the issues of fiscal restraint and opposition to new taxes, defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, said welfare “should not become a life style,” opposed the National Affordable Health Care Act and supported market-based health care reforms, among other things.
The new platform also sought to praise Gov. Paul LePage and the GOP-led Legislature for tax cuts, welfare restrictions and debt reductions they have brought about in the last two years.
But the proposed 2012 platform did not include items that were in the previous one, such as elimination of the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Reserve, a reference to global warming as a “myth” and to health care as “not a right. It is a service.” The 2010 platform also includes a number of themes repeated in the 2012 version, such as fiscal conservatism, “sanctity of life” and man-woman marriage.
The 2010 platform was adopted after tea party activists succeeded in inserting their own views into a document that had been proposed for adoption.
Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster on Tuesday acknowledged that some people who served on the platform committee were upset with Sunday’s outcome, but said it was up to the convention to vote the document up or down.
“I don’t think it matters” which of the two was chosen, Webster said. Either one, he said, shows clear differences between the Republicans and Democrats.