The Republican National Committee won't be imposing the "purity test" proposed by committeeman James Bopp of Indiana. During last week's meetings in Honolulu, a group of state GOP chairs unanimously voted against requiring Republican candidates to agree with at least eight out of ten conservative policy stands in order to receive RNC support during the 2010 campaign.
Bopp withdrew his motion from the floor on Friday after a compromise had been reached. RNC members then unanimously passed a non-binding resolution that "only 'urges' party leaders to support nominees who back the party's platform," Politico's Jonathan Martin reported.
Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Illinois and Delaware would have failed Bopp's purity test and therefore not qualified for RNC support. The resolution that passed does not penalize candidates who disagree with various "core principles" of the GOP. Still, Bopp tried to spin the compromise as a victory:
"You've got to determine that the candidate supports all the core principles of the Republican Party before you support them," he said, explaining the alternate measure.
But when asked whether it was binding, Bopp was cut off by Oregon GOP Chairman Bob Tiernan, who was standing nearby the impromptu press briefing.
"That resolution passed is not binding; it's a suggestion," said Tiernan.
As Bopp began to again make his case for the compromise, Tiernan again interjected.
"There's nothing mandatory or required in there," the Oregonian noted.
"Can I answer the question, Mr. Chairman?" Bopp shot back.
Continuing, Bopp explained that he thought the RNC's decision to, for the first time, make it party policy to urge candidates to pledge fealty to the GOP platform represented a significant step.
But Tiernan, standing just over Bopp's shoulder, again rebutted his committee colleague.
"I'm not going to take that back and make my candidates sign it, that's ridiculous," Tiernan said, gesturing toward the compromise resolution in a reporter's hand. "We don't have a litmus test and we rejected the litmus test today."
As Bopp continued, Tiernan again spoke up.
"There's nothing binding in there," said the state chairman.
"Can I finish?" a plainly annoyed Bopp asked.
"Read the words," replied Tiernan.
"Shut up," Bopp finally said.
Although the RNC papered over this dispute, clearly tensions remain over whether Republican leaders should insist that candidates be conservatives.
Two of Iowa's RNC members, Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman, supported Bopp's purity test. Our state's third representative on the RNC, Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn, didn't comment on Bopp's effort when it first emerged or last week, to my knowledge. I assume he agreed with other state party chairs, who according to various reports strongly opposed the idea. If that is inaccurate, I hope someone will correct me.