Iowa's three representatives on the Republican National Committee were denied entry to a reception with Mitt Romney today after they refused to sign a "delegate pledge form."
CNN's Peter Hamby reported that the Romney campaign held a private reception in Scottsdale, Arizona for RNC members. Since everyone on the RNC will be a superdelegate at this summer's Republican convention in Tampa, the Romney campaign asked invited guests to sign a document pledging to "vote for Mitt Romney at the 2012 Republican National Convention on all ballots until Mitt Romney has been nominated."
Iowa's three representatives on the RNC were left on the outside looking in.
All three members of Iowa's conservative RNC delegation - party chairman A.J. Spiker and committee members Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman - attempted to enter the reception but were rebuffed after refusing to sign the delegate pledge.
The dispute became heated in the hallway outside, with the Iowans demanding to know why they had to sign a form to get their picture taken with the former Massachusetts governor.
Several of Romney's deputies on the committee assured the trio that they could keep their support a secret by checking the appropriate box, but they refused to do so.
Spiker co-chaired Ron Paul's presidential campaign in Iowa, and Lehman endorsed Rick Santorum last year. Scheffler did not endorse a candidate before the Iowa caucuses, nor did the Iowa Christian Alliance he leads. Before the 2008 caucuses, Scheffler was officially neutral, but some social conservatives felt that he favored Romney's campaign. (Talk radio host Steve Deace, a prominent backer of Mike Huckabee in 2008, has called Scheffler the "least trustworthy & most gutless person in Iowa politics.")
Scheffler was upset with Romney's handlers, according to Hamby.
"They don't trust us," a frustrated Scheffler said after the argument. "I have said I will support the nominee when we have a nominee, no ifs, ands or buts."
The Iowa delegates were later given the opportunity to pose for a photo with Romney at a luncheon for RNC members, after the private event for supporters.
Scheffler's not in a strong position to complain about lack of trust or loyalty oaths. A couple of years back, he and Lehman advocated a "purity test" for Republican candidates seeking the RNC's official support. Romney passes that test now but wouldn't have in earlier phases of his political career.
Any comments about the Romney, the Republican Party, or the presidential race are welcome in this thread. The best commentary I've read lately about the future GOP nominee was by David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix weekly.