- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 2, 2008

SANTA ANNA PUEBLO, N.M.— Advisers to Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid say he will not try to “soften” the Republican party’s platform on abortion and same-sex marriage to appeal to more voters.

McCain associates told The Washington Times that his operatives are not going to work behind the scenes to eliminate the party’s calls for constitutional bans on abortion and homosexual marriage before the GOP convention in September.

Previous Republican nominees, such as former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, have sought to alter the party’s positions, which are honed and released in the platform immediately before the nominating convention.

Mr. McCain, one adviser said, also will keep his hands off the fight taking place here this week among Republican state officials over how to change the presidential primary schedule for 2012.

“The current system is not really a system — it’s a free-for-all and unfair to candidates and voters,” said David Norcross, chairman of the party’s rules committee, which is convened yesterday as state GOP chairmen meet for the first time since Mr. McCain became their putative presidential nominee.

“It costs more because of unpredictability and because strategic planning is impossible. Voters will be better served, I think, by more order and fewer sound bites and horse-race poll nonsense.”

The Republican National Committee’s Rules Committee began deliberating yesterday on five proposed plans to change the presidential primary schedule to avoid the “front-loading” that took place this cycle. Its goal is to preserve the legitimate interests of the various states in playing a significant role in deciding on the party’s presidential nominee.

Michigan Chairman Saul Anuzis, whose state violated RNC rules by holding its primary earlier than allowed this year, has helped author one of the plans designed to prevent a de facto national primary.

“There is frustration with the way the process went this time, primarily because of timing,” Mr. Anuzis said. “The front-loading and timing of various primaries caused us to go into the holiday season, and a lot of people didn’t like that.”

Five states this year violated the RNC’s rules against holding nominating contests prior to Feb. 5, and each of those states is to be penalized by not having half its delegates seated at the Sept 1-4 Republican National Convention.

A McCain camp adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also labeled as “dead wrong” a rumor among conservative leaders and activists that Bobby Kilberg, considered by critics to be liberal on social issues, would be masterminding the September Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

“Bobby Kilberg will have nothing to do with the platform,” the adviser said. “Do you think we are crazy? Why would we want to change the platform?”

He said another longtime Republican operative, Maria Cino, “is managing the national convention under the direction of Mike Duncan and the Committee on Arrangements. It has been the case for more than a year and will not change.”

The GOP’s 2004 platform opposes same-sex marriage, saying “the well-being of children is best accomplished in the environment of the home, nurtured by their mother and father anchored by the bonds of marriage.”

Its plank on abortion is that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life, which cannot be infringed. … Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions.”

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