BOSTON - While it would become immediate fodder for campaigns, Massachusetts Republicans – often a breed unto themselves – say adoption of the national GOP platform counts for little in how they conduct themselves as elected officials.
That doesn’t mean its acceptance in Massachusetts wouldn’t create headaches for some officeholders here.
As the Republican State Committee prepares to consider replacing its platform with one adopted by the Republicans in Tampa last month, Democrats are eagerly watching whether the MassGOP will align itself with the more conservative tenets of the national party. The MassGOP plans to meet today at the Beechwood Hotel in Worcester when one item on the agenda will be whether to embrace the national Republican platform.
Unlike the MassGOP platform that focuses primarily on fiscal issues such as lowering taxes, the national platform includes controversial social positions, including opposition to abortion in all cases without exception for rape or the safety of the mother. It also stakes out ground on the federal budget, calling for a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget – something that already exists in Massachusetts.
“Has Mitt Romney’s agenda strayed so far to the extreme right that his friends back home are afraid to embrace it? We’ll see tomorrow,” wrote Democratic Party spokesman Kevin Franck in a public memo released yesterday.
Candidates for office this election, particularly on the Democratic side, have been quick to paint their opponents as pawns of their national parties from the U.S. Senate race right on down the ticket to state representative and Senate candidates. Franck’s memo showed how Democrats might be prepared to use today’s vote regardless of the outcome to either attack Republican presidential nominee Romney or candidates back home.
Confronted with the Republican agenda late last month in Tampa at the Republican National Convention, however, state party leaders seemed to care little about the platform their party was about to accept.
House Minority Leader Brad Jones of North Reading, a pro-choice Republican, said the national platform may be “more aggressive than my record” on social issues, but has little bearing on how he votes in the Legislature.
“Being a Republican in Massachusetts, I kind of view the platform much like the Democratic Legislature views Republican budgets. It’s a nice big thick document that we’re going to use as a door jamb and we’re going to move on and do what we think we should do,” Jones said in Tampa.
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who is pro-choice, wrote to RNC Chairman Reince Preibus in opposition to the party’s platform, urging the GOP to become a “big tent” party accepting of positions like his on abortion. Congressional candidate Richard Tisei took a similar step on Wednesday, writing to MassGOP Chairman Robert Maginn urging the state committee not to adopt the national platform.
U.S. Rep. John Tierney, defending himself against a strong challenge from Tisei, released a new advertisement yesterday accusing the former Senate minority leader of being in line with a “Tea Party” agenda that includes outlawing abortion, restricting access to birth control, and cutting taxes for billionaires while raising them on the middle class.
Tisei, the former candidate for lieutenant governor and Senate minority leader, responded by calling himself a “Weld and Cellucci Republican,” referencing the fiscally conserv
ative and socially moderate former Republican Govs. William Weld and Paul Cellucci.