RSS
GOP convention: Is the party's platform an albatross for Mitt Romney?
The Republican Party adopts conservative planks that its presidential nominee disavows, a split that threatens to undercut Romney's message and drag him down
 
Mitt Romney listens as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers the keynote address during the RNC: Romney doesn't agree with his party's hardline stance that abortion should be banned in all case, which could muddy his message in the remainder of his campaign.
Mitt Romney listens as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers the keynote address during the RNC: Romney doesn't agree with his party's hardline stance that abortion should be banned in all case, which could muddy his message in the remainder of his campaign.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republican convention delegates approved what some called the party's "most conservative platform in modern history" on Tuesday, demanding everything from the repeal of ObamaCare to low taxes to constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and all abortions. Presidential candidates rarely embrace everything in their party platform — Romney, for example, supports exceptions allowing abortions in rape cases, incest, or to save the mother — so the documents rarely get much attention. This year, however, the abortion plank and several other hardline stances on social issues are generating unusual interest, and more Americans are interested in the platform (52 percent) than in Romney's speech (44 percent), according to a Pew Research Center poll. Will that make the platform a liability for Romney's campaign?

Yes. The GOP platform is poison for Romney: By insisting that this is the party's platform, and not Romney's, the candidate's supporters are "trying to disown the platform before the ink is dry," says syndicated columnist Susan Estrich in California's North County Times. Sorry, but this is Romney's convention, so he has to answer for a platform that "forces rape and incest victims into maternity wards." Either Romney was too weak to "stand up to the ideologues who could drag down his campaign, or he didn't dare try."
"The platform of the party"

No. These are solid conservative ideas: There's nothing shocking here — this is a "solidly conservative platform on social, economic, and national security issues" that any Republican can embrace, says John Gizzi at Human Events. It "draws a sharp line on GOP support for lowering tax rates" — extending the Bush-era cuts, for example — and "bringing an end to the Obama administration's big government agenda." And the famous "pro-life plank" is "virtually unchanged from the last several platforms."
"Economic and internet freedoms, strong defense mark GOP platform"

The abortion stance is only slightly damaging: The abortion plank is a relic of platforms past, says Jacob Sullum at Reason. This time, though, it adds that abortion is bad for women's "health and well-being." That "paternalistic" language shouldn't hurt Romney too badly, as it won't upset anyone "not already alienated by the near absolute ban" the party wants. Still, coming on the heels of Todd Akin's "widely ridiculed" comments on abortion and "legitimate rape," this is "more damaging than it would otherwise be."
"Did Todd Akin make the GOP's 28-year-old abortion plank suddenly relevant?"

If nothing else, the platform muddies Romney's message: Abortion isn't the platform's only culture-war land mine that could cause trouble for Romney, says Benjy Sarlin at Talking Points Memo. The GOP platform "also includes combative language regarding gay rights," an issue Team Romney is trying to sidestep to avoid "appearing bigoted in an increasingly tolerant America." By spotlighting social issues Romney "hopes to downplay in favor of the economy," the platform could make it harder for him to get out his message.
"Platform could be messaging minefield for GOP"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week