TAMPA, Fla. — Two hours after the Republican National Convention opened Tuesday, the first boos on the convention floor were heard following acceptance of the party rules on a voice vote. Presiding over the convention, House Speaker John Boehner ruled that the â??nosâ? on the rules package were not sufficient to require debate and a roll call and that the report of the Rules Committee was accepted. This prompted a lusty chorus of boos from many conservatives and supporters of Ron Paul.
Although there are several changes contained in the rules, the one that many opponents said upset them the most was Rule 12, which permits a major change in the timing of rules governing the 2016 convention. Republicans traditionally decide their rules for the next national convention at the close of the last one, and there can be no changes in between.
Rule 12 alters this in an important way. Now, by a vote of three-fourths of the full Republican National Committee, there can be a mid-term convention or another vehicle between presidential election years to make alterations in Rules 1-24, which govern the presidential nomination process.
Party conservatives such as Republican National Committeemen Morton Blackwell of Virginia and Jim Bopp of Indiana voiced strong opposition. Such a change, they warned, could spell â??evolving rulesâ? during the four-year period between presidential elections. Moreover, conservatives feel, this is one more step toward the national party forcing its way on state partiesâ??an argument that was pivotal to eliminating another proposed rule that would have given the presidential candidate and not the state party over who actually serves as a national convention delegate.
There are other opinions, however. Emerging from the final Rules Committee meeting before the vote by the full convention Tuesday, Pennsylvania State Chairman Rob Gleason told Human Events: â??The most important decision we (the Rules Committee) made in approving new rules is that we will be able to change rules in the ensuing four years. Itâ??s very frustrating to debate rules that wonâ??t take effect until four years in the future. We communicate so fast today that being able to make changes before our next convention is important.â? Gleason noted that the vote in favor of the new rules package on the committee (78 to 17) was strongly on the side of change.
Opponents never got the debate and vote on Rule 12 they wanted. But given the strong sentiments of opponents and the sound of the boos from the convention floor, one gets the strong impression this isnâ??t the last time that grass-roots conservatives will be heard on this issue.