RNC platform little changed for 2012 on abortion
TAMPA Republicans drawing up the party’s platform continued a tradition of opposing abortion but stayed silent on whether the procedure should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, ignoring requests from younger activists worried about turning off women voters in November. The Republican National Committee’s platform committee on Tuesday also endorsed conservative positions on the economy, the federal government, education and even how to vote. The GOP’s anti-abortion platform, though largely the same for more than two decades, received heightened attention in the aftermath of comments by congressman Todd Akin, R-Missouri, on abortion and rape this week. The committee made no changes Tuesday to draft language that called for the "human life" plank and endorsed legislation that would acknowledge the rights of the unborn under the 14th amendment. The broad anti-abortion plank, identical to one approved at the 2008 convention, appears at odds with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s position on the issue. Romney has said he supports abortion in cases of rape and incest.But Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the committee chairman, said the plank is consistent with the GOP’s stance on the issue. "Current events regarding who said what at any given time don’t affect this document," McDonnell told reporters after his committee finalized the platform. Delegates will vote on the platform Monday, the opening day of the GOP’s national convention. Alabama delegate Jacqueline Curtiss said party leaders are out of touch with women voters. She blamed the party’s stance on abortion as part of the reason why President Obama captured 62 percent of college-aged women’s votes four years ago. "I wish we would move forward," Curtiss, 22, said. Curtiss tried to alter the plank that opposes federal approval of abortion contraceptives such as RU486. "In light of the recent comments by Congressman Todd Akin and in an attempt to reaffirm to the American people the party’s sensitivity on the subject of rape, I believe we should not support an amendment which opposes approval of a method that’s been proven effective in preventing the pregnancy of rape victims," Curtiss said. Curtiss said she was disappointed her amendment was shot down. "We don’t need to get hung up on him. But we also don’t need to support policies that mirror his. We need to support the policies like our candidates who came out in support of a rape exception today," she said later. The anti-abortion position without reference to rape or incest reflects "the broad values" of the party, said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a delegate from Louisiana. Perkins said he supports Akin and that the platform goes far enough. "This language, the party has adopted every four years. It’s a settled issue within the party," he said. The overall platform is "a prescription for opportunity," McDonnell said, and it provides "a set of principles that our candidates can agree to use and adopt … to consolidate and motivate our base and to reach out to undecided and unaligned voters and attract them to our side." The platform had to appeal to the Republican base and more conservative tea party supporters while not being so extreme it would alienate moderate or independent voters. But the final product was more right-leaning than a draft document altered this week in Tampa. About 100 delegates worked on the final 60-plus page manifesto on Monday and Tuesday, the product of tens of thousands of suggestions from GOP activists including Karl Rove’s "Freedom Works" and Romney advisers. The delegates also voted to restore anti-illegal immigration provisions previously included in the 2008 platform but not included in the draft platform. In addition to supporting the E-verify requirement that employers check the status of hires on a federal website, the provisions include a demand for a fence at the Mexico border, opposition to in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and opposition to "sanctuary cities" whose policies restrict police from enforcing immigration laws. The platform also requires school children to learn about the Constitution, calls for paper trails in voting systems and supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The platform blasted the Obama administration for not doing enough to support the "Defense of Marriage" act. Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union and a former Florida Republican Party chief, said he was pleased with the policy stances contained in the party platform. While the tea party movement can alienate many independent voters, Cardenas applauded the party for not looking to keep views of the GOP’s far right under wraps. "This election is going to be about contrasts," Cardenas said. "There’s not that many middle-of-the-road voters that either side is going to go for. We have a very definite, conservative platform." Allan Bense, a former House speaker and a Florida delegate who served on the platform panel's health and crime subcommittee, said he expected more debate over issues such as immigration and abortion. Bense, the chairman of the Florida Chamber of Commerce board of directors, was an adamant opponent of E-verify when lawmakers considered it last year. But he said it was included because Romney supports it.