- The Washington Times - Monday, June 13, 2016

Donald Trump, despite claims by critics that he is not a conservative, will fully embrace the Republican Party platform that the nation’s 22 leading conservative groups are drafting, a senior Trump campaign official said.

“Mr. Trump will work with you on the platform your organizations are drafting because Donald Trump sees himself as a conservative,” Trump campaign official Ed Brookover said to representatives from the 22 groups, he told The Washington Times.

“Mr. Trump is committed to a conservative platform,” Mr. Brookover said.

In a rare kumbaya moment, the suspended campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas dispatched Christian Andzel from the senator’s Trusted Leadership PAC to represent the Texan at a meeting of the Trump campaign and the interest group emissaries.

Mr. Brookover and John Mashburn, a Trump policy director and former staffer for Sen. Jesse Helms, listened to the policy stands that the conservative representatives said they wanted in the draft platform.

The two Trump officials fielded questions from the activists at a June 7 “listening session” organized by three men, two of them officials from the National Republican Platform Project: Deputy Director Russ Walker and Director Solomon Yue, who also is a Republican National Committee member from Oregon. The third organizer was James Bopp Jr., executive director of the Republican National Conservative Caucus.

Mr. Trump’s apparent commitment to what promises to be one of the most conservative Republican platforms ever is noteworthy because critics within the party perceive him as ideology-free. Another reason is that, with the exceptions of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, few Republican presidential nominees have explicitly embraced the party’s platform.

Emissaries from the nominees’ campaigns worked long and hard to try to soften the rightward thrust of key planks on issues such as border security and amnesty for illegal aliens, abortion, same-sex marriage and gun rights.

Mr. Brookover, Mr. Mashburn and representatives of the conservative groups met for two hours at the downtown Washington headquarters of the National Right to Life Committee, the very mention of which has promoted heartburn among moderate Republicans.

Mr. Brookover and Mr. Mashburn said they attended the meeting to listen to goals of the conservative interest groups’ representatives. The groups will submit their proposed planks toward the end of the month for a first draft of the Republican Party platform. The draft will be based on the 2012 platform, which is widely viewed as a highly conservative.

The first meeting was comfortable for Mr. Brookover, attendees said. He has long worked on Capitol Hill with many of the organizations and activists, with whom he shares values and political goals.

Mr. Mashburn, a lawyer with longtime affinity for the ideas of the right is equally comfortable with economic, national defense and social conservatives.

The first-ever draft of the National Republican Platform Project will be presented to all 112 members of the RNC’s platform committee when it meets in Cleveland on July 10, a week before the gaveling to order of the Republican National Convention.

“Each of the 22 interest groups will have found a platform committee member interested in that group’s plank and will review and work with its platform committee member to protect or amend the platform language,” Mr. Yue said.

“We will work with those organizations, the RNC platform committee and the Trump campaign to make sure everyone is happy with the final product. We want to create a win-win-win for the Trump campaign, the 22 national conservative organizations and for the RNC’s fight to win the White House,” he said.

The groups that met with the two Trump campaign officials included some with an economic focus such as the Club for Growth and the National Right to Work Committee; legal groups such as the Republican Lawyers Association, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the National Legal Foundation; plus social and religious groups such as the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Concerned Women for America, National Right to Life, the Susan B. Anthony List, the American Federation for Children/AFC Growth Fund; and the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Also present were multi-focus interest groups such as the State Policy Network, The Heritage Foundation, Republicans Overseas and the National Republican Platform Project.

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

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