- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. — Republicans next week will likely adopt what veteran platform writers said is the most conservative platform in their history after the drafting committee voted to keep strict pro-life, pro-defense and traditional marriage planks intact.

When the national convention’s 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternates assemble Monday, each of them will find a printed form of the document on their seats and they will be asked to vote it up or down. They have always approved it in the past.

“The [Republican National Committee] platform appears to be the most conservative platform in modern history,” platform committee member and tea party organizer Russ Walker told The Washington Times.

Building on the influences of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and the tea party movements, the GOP’s platform now includes a whole section “dedicated to restoring constitutional government” by bringing together constitutional issues that in the past had been sprinkled throughout the platform, said James Bopp Jr., chairman of the subcommittee on the Constitution.

“Now they are brought together in a comprehensive examination of the fundamental principles of the constitution, how the Obama administration has seriously violated many constitutional mandates and limitations, and how the Republican party is committed to restoring faithful observance of these constitutional provisions.”

He said Mitt Romney, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, didn’t push back against much of the document’s conservative bent as the platform waded into major constitutional controversies, Republican pet peeves and today’s political battles.

Among those current battles is the pro-life plank, which opposes abortion in all cases except in which the mother’s life is in danger. The topic is attracting extra attention this year after the party’s Senate nominee in Missouri — Rep. W. Todd Akin — this weekend asserted that women can avoid getting pregnant from “legitimate rape” because their bodies have ways of blocking it.

Republicans said the abortion language is the same as it’s been since 2004, but Democrats still seized on it, saying it highlights a lack of understanding of women voters, particularly in light of Mr. Akin’s comments.

“It doesn’t matter how many times it’s been in their platform, it’s still wrong,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, who laid blame directly at Mr. Romney’s feet. “This is his platform that was written at his campaign’s direction, and look, they still have a week to correct it.”

Mr. Romney’s stance is not as strict as the GOP’s platform. His campaign says he would allow abortions in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

Other parts of the GOP’s platform include a call for women to be excluded from combat roles in the military, a demand that the federal government back the Defense of Marriage Act which denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages, and a call to audit the Federal Reserve — a nod to Mr. Paul, who competed for the GOP’s presidential nomination and whose supporters continued to push for his stances to be reflected in the platform.

They lost fights to weaken language on government detention powers under last year’s defense policy bill, and failed to strip provisions opposing gay marriage.

Stephen Dinan in Washington contributed to this report.

• Ralph Z. Hallow can be reached at rhallow@gmail.com.

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