- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 5, 2014

EXCLUSIVE:

In an unprecedented show of opposition to abortion, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is delaying the start of the party’s annual winter meeting so he and other committee members can join the March for Life on the Mall, The Washington Times has learned.

Mr. Priebus, a plain-spoken Greek Orthodox lawyer from Wisconsin, will join members of his party’s national committee and thousands of other abortion opponents in the annual right-to-life march scheduled for Jan. 22, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that declared abortion a constitutional right.

“I saw that there was a real interest among a significant portion of our members to attend and support the Rally for Life,” Mr. Priebus said in an email to The Times. “This is a core principle of our party. It was natural for me to support our members and our principles.”

Mr. Priebus, in his second term as elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, chose to delay the start of the four-day winter meeting of the GOP governing body, also scheduled in Washington, to allow himself and RNC members to attend the march. The delay is unprecedented for a major U.S. political party, several state Republican Party chairmen and other RNC members said in telephone interviews.

**FILE** Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. (Associated Press)
**FILE** Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. (Associated Press) more >

Mr. Priebus also decided that the RNC will charter a bus to and from the march for those among the RNC’s 168 members who wish to attend, he said.

“I will attend the March for Life and am making a few simple modifications of the schedule and ensuring that the members have safe and adequate transportation to and from the rally,” he said in his email.

In an email circulated among other members, Alaska RNC member Debbie Joslin said, “I have served under a number of chairmen and not one of them ever made any opportunity for us to attend the March for Life, and they always scheduled critical meetings for the same time as the March for Life. Big thanks to Reince for standing up for the unborn!”

The chairman’s action is an example of the increasingly bottom-up instead of top-down way the RNC functions.

On paper, the RNC is quite democratic in structure — it is made up of an elected state party chairman and an elected committee man and a committee woman from each of the 50 states and five U.S. territories. But for almost its entire history, the national chairman, in an informal alliance with the GOP congressional leadership and top fundraisers, has called the shots.

But this act was different.

“When Reince got wind of what members were planning on their own, he emailed that he would shift our RNC schedule so we could attend, and he offered that the RNC would get transportation for us,” Missouri GOP Chairman Ed Martin said.

Oklahoma RNC member Carolyn McLarty, an evangelical Protestant, said the schedule change had its origins in an email reminder about the march from Virginia RNC member Kathy Hayden “about a week ago and that we could probably attend at least part of it prior to the start of the RNC meetings. … Things have snowballed from there.”

She said West Virginia RNC member Melody Potter had “contacted the bus company and the emails started flying with members wanting to attend.”

“I am pumped at the opportunity that we have as a party,” Mrs. Potter said. “There is nothing that we cannot accomplish together. We are Republican for a reason.”

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