Kansas Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach wants to add a little Trump to the Republican Party platform this week by pushing a plank reflecting the presumptive presidential nominee’s immigration message — including his famed vow to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
As a committee meets this week to put finishing touches on the platform, Donald Trump’s goal of reeling in trade deals is also likely to be added, said Mr. Kobach, one of the presumptive nominee’s early high-profile backers.
“If I had to predict what will happen, I would say the platform is likely to move somewhat to the right from what was already a conservative document in 2012,” Mr. Kobach told The Washington Times.
Written every four years, the platform is supposed to be a statement of the party’s priorities — though some candidates, and party faithful, take it more seriously than others.
Mr. Trump has given few signals about how much stock he puts in the document, but the various wings of the party are gearing up for fights over his stances, many of them counter to historic Republican orthodoxy, that differ from the 2012 platform.
Four years ago, the party embraced language that said Social Security must be reshaped in order to save the program for future retirees. It also extolled the benefits of free trade, saying Republicans would oversee completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal involving Pacific Rim nations.
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But during the primary campaign, Mr. Trump vowed to leave Social Security untouched and likened the TPP to economic “rape.”
Perhaps most challenging is immigration, where the 2012 platform called for completion of a two-tier border fence first envisioned in a 2006 law. But it did not explicitly demand the “wall” Mr. Trump has vowed to build — and to make Mexico pay for it.
Mr. Kobach predicted that the TPP language would be stripped out and said he plans to push for “very conservative language on immigration.”
“I think that the issue of building a wall is one that Republicans are overwhelmingly in favor of, and the fact that it was the signature policy point for Trump’s campaign makes it clear that the American public is behind it as well,” Mr. Kobach said. “I don’t see the wall as remotely controversial. There may be some people in the committee who don’t want to put ‘wall’ in, but I think it needs to be in there.”
New Hampshire State Rep. Stephen B. Stepanek, though, said there is no need to get that explicit on the wall.
“At this point in time, we don’t need it in the platform to make sure that it happens,” Mr. Stepanek said. “I think when Donald Trump is elected president, he will make sure that it happens and that we have an immigration system that works for this country.”
Mr. Stepanek said the party could avoid a lot of potential infighting by simply adopting the language from the 2012 platform.
“If you keep it simple, it works,” Mr. Stepanek said. “If you try to tweak it too much, the whole thing turns into a sausage-making factory. We have a pretty gosh-darn good document here now, and when you start messing with it, everyone and their brother has something to say.”
That could be wishful thinking.
Battles lines have already been drawn over an effort to water down the traditional marriage plank, and there could be more fireworks on efforts to take a clear stand demanding that people use bathrooms that correspond with their biological sex, not their gender self-identification.
There are also concerns over Mr. Trump’s commitment to the party’s pro-life plank after he suggested this year that he would be open to adding exceptions for rape, incest and health of the woman.
Jim Bopp, a committee member from Indiana, said he has learned over the years that sometimes the best way to reconcile differences in the document is to sidestep areas of disagreement altogether.
Mr. Bopp said that could be one way to ease concerns tied to Mr. Trump’s evolution on abortion and his vow to “absolutely” change the abortion plank in the platform to include exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother.
“I think he spoke of that without really understanding how we are dealing with exceptions in the platform,” Mr. Bopp said. “The way we are dealing with them is we are not addressing them at all.”
Mr. Bopp, meanwhile, said he plans to object to efforts to remove the pro-traditional-marriage plank from the platform and that he would not be surprised to see language presented “that protects the right of privacy of women in their own bathrooms from anatomical males invading that privacy.”
“It is one thing to say someone, an anatomical male, can identify as a woman and appear to be one, but it is quite another to have her standing next to a woman naked in a shower,” Mr. Bopp said.