Letter from Morton Blackwell to RNC on the Rules Controversy

From: Morton Blackwell
To: Members of the Republican National Committee
Date: Mon, Sep 3, 2012 at 3:12 PM
Subject: My Thoughts on the Rule’s Controversy

Dear Fellow RNC Member,Now that the national convention is over, many delegates and others have asked me to sum up my views on the controversy at the convention regarding The Rules of the Republican Party and where we should go from here.

What happened regarding the party rules in Tampa was a totally unnecessary – but largely successful attempt – to concentrate and centralize more power at the top of the party and restrict or shut off opportunities for power in the party to flow from the bottom up.

The effort was led by Ben Ginsberg, a member of the Convention Rules Committee from Washington, D.C., who represented himself as the spokesman for Mitt Romney’s Presidential Campaign.

Earlier this year, Mr. Ginsberg worked for the Presidential Campaign of Michele Bachmann. In Tampa, he led the effort to make major changes in the party rules strongly opposed by Congresswoman Bachmann.

Mr. Ginsberg is simply a man unencumbered by principles.

For four years, the Republican National Committee’s Standing Committee on Rules carefully reviewed The Rules of the Republican Party and adopted changes to propose for adoption by the national convention.

Then the Republican National Committee voted unanimously to approve the new rules proposed by its Standing Committee on Rules and sent them on to the Convention Rules Committee.

Enter Ben Ginsberg.

At the Convention Rules Committee meeting, he proceeded to introduce and support many amendments to the newly-revised rules which had been approved the previous day by the RNC.

The changes he proposed shared a common theme: to concentrate and centralize more power at the top of the party, and to shut off opportunities for power in the party to flow from the bottom up.

Since these rules changes would go into effect for the 2016 presidential election cycle, none of Mr. Ginsberg’s power grabs would in any way help us elect Mitt Romney and defeat President Barack Obama in November.

And I’m sure you agree defeating Obama should be our top priority this Election Year.

But Ben Ginsberg’s efforts predictably enraged conservative Republicans who treasure the protections long incorporated in our national party rules.

The record will show that during the Conventions Rules Committee meeting, as a member of that Committee from Virginia, I repeatedly warned Mr. Ginsberg that his power grabs would hurt the Romney campaign by outraging grassroots conservative and libertarian activists whom we want to support our candidates this year.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ginsberg continued on his path.

There are some folks who, if you give them a fur coat, think they’re King Kong.

As anyone with relevant experience should have foreseen, when the Rules Committee report was presented for consideration to the National Convention, a thunderous “NO!” vote arose from the convention floor.

Most of the news media and those of us in the convention hall agree that the vote on adopting the Rules was obviously close. Some believe the “NO” vote was louder, but Speaker Boehner ruled that the “ayes” had it.

I was the youngest elected Goldwater delegate at the 1964 national convention. I have attended every national convention since, and I’ve represented Virginiaon the RNC since 1988.

Nothing like this has ever happened before in living memory at a Republican National Convention.

When they were presumptive Presidential nominees – and when they were Presidents of the United States – neither George H.W. Bush nor George W. Bush ever attempted to undermine the means by which power within the Republican Party structure can rise from the bottom up.

The operatives whom the Romney campaign put in charge of Rules matters seem to want the power to rule the national Republican Party, as Nelson Rockefeller used to run the New York State Republican Party.

These operatives should be repudiated – and it’s not too late to do so.

Later in this email, I’ll discuss some of the awful changes Mr. Ginsberg supported.

But first, it’s necessary to stress how important I believe it is to elect Mitt Romney and defeat Barack Obama in November.

My wife and I have supported Republican candidates every year in our 40-year marriage. This year, my wife and I have contributed at least five times as much money to Romney Victory, Inc. as we have ever given to any other campaign.

Four years ago, I predicted in a posting which still can be seen on the website RedState, how bad a President Barack Obama would be.

He has been even worse than I predicted.

Barack Obama is a leftist ideologue who has filled his Administration with other leftist ideologues, and their policies are bankrupting our country and destroying many of our liberties.

Mitt Romney strongly supports conservative principles – and he would undo the damage Obama has done.

He would end the slide into national bankruptcy, restore threatened liberties, and put our country on the path toward economic growth and more job opportunities.

It’s little short of tragic that some of his operatives blundered by setting up an entirely unnecessary, major controversy with grassroots Republicans at our national convention.

Undoubtedly, the worst power grab initiated by Mr. Ginsberg was his ramming through a change in the Rules of the Republican Party, a new Rule 12, which permits the Republican National Committee to change national rules between conventions.

The Democrats have had such a rule for years, and those in power in their party spend the periods between their national conventions fighting in their national committee over rules changes to benefit this or that faction, or this or that potential presidential nominee.

We Republicans have avoided that by prohibiting changes in the rules between our national conventions.

The office of the RNC Chairman is – and has to be – very powerful. A National Committee of 168 members, which meets for a few hours two or three times a year, can’t micro-manage the RNC.

The RNC Chairman has the immense power of the purse and a large staff to influence the decisions of the RNC, so an RNC Chairman can get the votes of a super-majority of the RNC for just about anything he or she desires.

But until now, the fact that the RNC Chairman must abide by stable party rules has served as the main protection for input by grassroots conservatives and libertarians.

For practical purposes, the new Rule 12 adds to the power of the RNC Chairman (or to the White House when there’s a Republican President) the ability to change party rules at will.

Over a number of election cycles, our party has struggled to avoid the front-loading of our delegate selection process, moving us closer and closer to a single national primary as states race to the head of the line to hold their primaries.

Yet prudence dictates that there should be a reasonably long nomination process in order to properly vet all of our candidates.

After special studies and much consultation, many serious party leaders finally came up with a workable solution. Party rules were changed in this cycle to prohibit winner-take-all primaries in March of presidential election years. March primaries had to in some way allocate delegate votes proportionally to the popular vote.

The new system worked, and Mitt Romney is a better presidential candidate because of that experience.

Mr. Ginsberg gutted the hard-won reform by ramming through a change in the rules to permit winner-take-all primaries in March.

When I asked him why he did this, he replied to me, “It wasn’t our idea. We did it as a favor for some friends.”

That’s a far cry from a process in which the best interests of our party are carefully discussed and considered.

I have innumerable times over the years recruited new participants into the Republican Party by stressing the fairness, openness, and stability of our Republican rules compared to those of the Democratic Party.

The way to treat newcomers to our party is fairly, politely, and even cordially.

That’s what we do in Virginia. And that’s how to build and sustain a majority party.

Among the many still-not-publicized rules changes rammed through the Convention Rules Committee by Mr. Ginsberg was one to raise from five to eight the number of states a presidential candidate would have to win in the nomination contests in order to have his or her name formally placed in nomination before the convention.

Raising the bar was a gratuitous slap at prospective new participants in our nomination process.

Despite his success in recruiting new volunteers, Congressman Ron Paul won a majority of the delegate votes in nowhere near five states this year.

To discuss all the power grabs the rules suffered this year would be tedious in a letter, so let me mention only some of them, including the one which resulted in a “compromise.”

Mr. Ginsberg got the Convention Rules Committee to pass a rule change which would allow presidential candidates to remove national convention delegates who were legally elected under the party rules and laws of the respective states. This caused such a furor that a Minority Report to the Rules Committee Report seemed certain.

That would have forced a debate on the convention floor and a vote of the entire convention body.

A valid Minority Report required the support of 28 members – or 25% – of the Convention Rules Committee. Well over 35 signatures were certain, despite all available arm-twisting of Mr. Ginsberg and those who supported him on everything else.

State parties, including Virginia’s, fiercely defended their right to elect their own delegates. The “compromise” was for Mr. Ginsberg to agree to take out the provision which would have given candidates the power to disavow and remove legally elected delegates.

In place of that obnoxious provision was inserted a guarantee that delegate votes would go to candidates who won those delegate votes in binding presidential primaries, a matter which would have been routinely enforced under the existing rules.

Conservatives continued to mount efforts to file two Minority Reports, but in the end, enough Rules Committee members were persuaded not to sign them or to remove their signatures.

Neither had the required 28 signatures and one wound up with 27 valid signatures.

Therefore no Minority Reports reached the convention floor.

I should mention that Mr. Ginsberg moved one rules change which would have required the signatures of 40% of future Convention Rules Committees for a Minority Report to be considered on the convention floor.

That would have rendered future Minority Reports virtually impossible because the signatures would have to be obtained and the Minority Report filed within one hour of the adjournment of the Convention Rules Committee.

The opposition to this attempted power grab was so intense that Mr. Ginsberg withdrew his motion.

There circulated in the media coverage of the Tampa convention a report that a late and wayward bus deliberately prevented the Virginia Delegates from arriving at the convention hall in time for me to take part in the final (usually pro-forma) meeting of the Convention Rules Committee held as the convention began.

It is true that our Virginia bus got our delegation to the convention hall after the Convention Rules Committee meeting adjourned. But I never for a minute believed our bus had been deliberately delayed.

One should not attribute to conspiracy what can adequately be explained by incompetence. You will recall that staggeringly bad transportation arrangements inconvenienced most of the states’ delegations that day.

All in all, in most ways our 2012 convention was a roaring success.

We presented great speeches by Mitt Romney and his brilliant choice for running mate, Paul Ryan. Other great speeches by Anne Romney, Marco Rubio, and a galaxy of others put our party’s best feet forward. The 2012 Republican Platform clearly expressed our conservative and liberty-loving principles.

My strong advice is for all of us to work tirelessly and give generously to our national campaign. Everything is on the line this year.

And there’s another reason for solid conservatives to contribute more time and money now.

I believe we shall win this election, and then there’s the important matter of staffing a new Administration.

I worked full-time in the Presidential Personnel Office of President-elect Ronald Reagan and then for three years on his White House staff.

Personnel is policy.

An incoming administration tends to hire people who contributed significantly to winning the election.

If we expect a new President to hire a lot of principled conservatives and libertarians, we should maximize the number of principled conservatives and libertarians who have credentialed themselves by taking part in the Mitt Romney campaign.

And then, in 2016 we can work to repeal the current Rule 12 – and reverse the other mistakes incorporated in the new rules last week.

Morton Blackwell
National Committeeman, Virginia

The Leadership Institute’s mission is to increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists and leaders in the public policy process. Learn more.

Posted by Sandra Crosnoe for R3publicans with special thanks to Ginny Taylor and Porter Davis for the link on facebook.




14 thoughts on “Letter from Morton Blackwell to RNC on the Rules Controversy

  1. He would restore liberties? What, what??? Is that why he supports the NDAA? Is down the new up? Your bus was intentionally delayed (along with other buses) at the behest of Boss Rove.

  2. I think I’ve heard three or four people claiming to be the youngest Goldwater 1964 delegate. Must be an honorable distinction.

    The Republican party (at the national level at least) has finally cast off all vestiges of REpublicanism. First they shed the Republic itself. Now they shed the lower-case “r” republican method of nominating candidates and writing rules. Why don’t we call them something else?

  3. Thank you for your insights and concerns. I too was disturbed by this power grab and have decided to provide my support to State and local candidates. If one person can influence and with the help of party officials derail the feet of the party. Maybe they can go door to door to get out the vote and use their funds to support their nominee.

  4. Thank you for the explanation, but the damage is complete. There is no way that Romney can beat Obama. There never was. Too many of us have awakened, and we will never again vote for a candidate just because they have an “R” behind their name.

    There has to be something of substance; some principles, and the record to back it up. The GOP had perhaps the best candidate in over 100 years running for the nomination, and because the people at the top of the GOP think holding onto their power is more important than saving this country, we have Romney as our candidate.

    Romney, who is backed by the same globalists as Obama. Romney, who was confirmed by four independent sources as having attended this year’s Bilderberg meeting. Romney, who is in the pockets of Goldman Sachs, just like Obama. Romney, whose healthcare model for his state was used by Obama for his country. Romney, who would have signed the NDAA. Romney, who is anti-Second Amendment (and the rest of the Constitution).

    At least when Obama wins, we’ll only have to put up with him for four more years (if the country can survive), instead of the eights years if Romney won (which the country could not survive).

  5. I am a libertarian republican who lives a very conservative life. Explain to me how I can get behind a candidate who pushed through rule changes that took the republic out of the republican party? This is an egregious offense. My grandfather was a republican, my father is a republican (and a 12 year locally elected republican politician), I am a republican. Never have any of us ever thought about leaving the party, well, until now. This power grab needs to be rectified. The rules matter, our traditions matter.

  6. Did you really just explain how badly the RNC cheated and changed the rules to ensure more cheating in the future and then ask for our votes and money, all in the same article? Get lost, pal. Screw the GOP. All of these proposed rules that allow cheating, as long as they’re the ones doing it, were already used against Ron Paul this year. Now they’re simply codified. You may think they’re ok because your guy won the nomination. Wait ’til your guy is the one getting cheated in favor of someone whose behavior his entire life seems completely reprehensible to you. Wait until the cheating benefits someone you consider to be exactly the same as the Democrat challenger you’re trying to unseat. We’ll see how you like this power grab then.

  7. Pingback: Blackwell’s letter about theTampa RNC coup raises more questions then it answers « Potomac Tea Party Report

  8. Mr. Blackwell, I truly appreciate your efforts to stop this Fascist take over of the RNC. I also respect your opinion on Politics. I have been a Republican all of my life (I liked Nixon when I was 7, didn’t know about any of his real agenda at the time…) However, I held my nose 4 years ago and voted for McCain, even though I saw VERY little difference between him and Obama. I cannot do it again this year. Yes, things are very dire under Obama, but one thing is for sure, everyone is watching everything he does. If Romney, who I believe is no different than McCain or Obama, is elected, All the Republicans will go back to sleep, like they were under Bush. I have to say, I have been a libertarian since I got out of the Army in the early 90’s, voted for Alan Keyes in the primaries of 2000 and Ron Paul in 2008 and this year as well. I cannot follow where the GOP is going, I cannot tolerate anymore of the same old thing. Especially since all accounts say the Romney was truly the person behind all of these changes, I refuse to vote for him. I am voting Libertarian this year, and pray to God in Heaven that He will have mercy on us and bless us with a Congress that is Liberty minded to stop whoever becomes President from pushing us further into a fascist, police-state. Thank you for your service to our Country, and God Bless you.

  9. Pingback: Dr. Carolyn McClarty on the Republican National Convention « Cherokee County GOP

  10. Morton: How are you. We met a few years ago in Dallas with Stockman. I just released a new book that I think you will find interesting. I believe that LI could use it in training. The title is “Pruning the Fourth Branch” and the website is http://www.ReformAdminLaw.org. I would love to have your help in getting this message out. — thanks, Al Lee

  11. Mr. Blackwell, your diplomacy and continued faith in the Republican Party are enviable and commendable. I wish I could match it, but my allegiance to the party has been irreparably compromised by the actions of the RNC.

  12. The RNC is over. The presidential election is over. All other distractions and priorities are over. Unless the rule changes and other graft perpetrated on the Republican party by the party elite are addressed and corrected, then the Republican party will be over too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s