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“Folks in the McCain presidential effort did not want an argument with conservatives at the convention,” he said, referring to Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the party’s 2008 presidential nominee.

Mr. Priebus said the platform should be the foundation of the party, laying out its conservative philosophy and principles that should guide the policy decisions of GOP officeholders, from president to city council member.

“When a Republican officeholder proposes something that doesn’t comport the platform, I reread that part of the document and tell the Republican in question why his proposal isn’t consistent with the platform,” said Mr. Priebus.