The Republican National Committee is headed to Hawaii this week for its winter meeting. One of the top issues on the agenda, being put forward in a series of resolutions on Friday by Indiana committee member James Bopp Jr., is whether the party’s candidates will be conservative enough — and what steps the party can take to enforce it.
Bopp is offering two key resolutions. The first is a test that requires GOP candidates toÂ show that they hold conservative positions on eight out of ten key conservative positions, such as opposing President Obama on health care and the stimulus, in order to receive RNC funding. This has been commonly referred to in the media as the “purity” test. The other, which Bopp calls the “accountability” resolution, would empower the chairman to cut off party funding for a candidate if the chair judged them to be insufficiently conservative. In an interview with TPMDC, Bopp explained that the resolutions serve an important need of maintaining the party’s credibility.
“Well, we would just like to pass some forceful provision that requires accountability and puts our money where our mouth is, not just talk,” said Bopp. “We’re great at talking a game, but people don’t trust us to follow through, and that’s what we’re trying to fix. So if we put our money where our mouth is, I think people will believe us.”“The party already has the power to determine who receives RNC funding,” said Bopp, explaining the accountability resolution. “This would empower him [RNC Chairman Michael Steele] to consider ideology. Currently, he does not believe he can do that, he has told me. He believes, and I think most chairman did, that his duty as chairman is to support all candidates without regard to ideology. This would empower him to consider ideology.”
Last year, Bopp has offered a resolution to call upon the Democratic Party to be renamed the “Democrat Socialist Party.” Steele intervened in that matter, and negotiated a compromise measure that instead condemned the Democrats “march to socialism.” Would Bopp be open to any similar compromises, I asked?
“Of course, just like I was on other resolutions. As long as we can accomplish the goal, I’m not wedded to any particular terminology or approach,” said Bopp. “We wanted to, with the resolution you refer to as the socialist resolution, we wanted to make the public aware that Obama’s agenda is a socialist agenda, and to begin that discussion and debate, and we did. And by adopting that resolution that explained that their agenda is a socialist agenda, it’s helped to educate the people, and now everybody agrees with it, really. We accomplished the goal there, so I’m always open to changes, or even fresh approaches, if they can get us to where I think we need to go.”
I asked Bopp whether he has been approach by anyone about potential compromises — he has not.
The resolution has been criticized by some on the right, such as Erick Erickson, for allegedly making it too easy for a moderate to get a clean bill of health as a conservative Republican.
“Well, we tried to be mainstream. We’re trying to move the party and our candidate into a position of accountability in RNC spending,” said Bopp. “But we recognize that it would be unreasonable and foolish to require every candidate to agree with every issue that the Republican party has taken a position on. I mean, that would be ridiculous. So we adopted Reagan’s 80-percent rule. If you agree with us 80 percent of the time, you’re our friend. As to the specific items, what we picked were items that we expected to be voted on in Congress, and be the most important bills voted on. There’s cap and trade, the stimulus bill, ObamaCare, government funding of abortion.”
And Bopp also explained that, because these tests are specific to the needs of today, they will be changing in the future. “This is not, and people should not look at this, ‘these are the principles, the universal principles of the party,'” said Bopp “This is a practical application in this election cycle, to what are the pressing issues that we are facing, and what we would do is every two years have a new list. And of course when the Republicans take over Congress in 2010, in 2011 the list would be much different. We’d be looking at tax cuts and all sorts of good things like that. They will change as the dangers or the opportunities present themselves.”