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Republicans Finish Their Platform Work

By Juliet Eilperin
Republicans adopted a slimmed down, conservative-leaning platform last night in a unanimous vote, peppering it with provisions that meshed with Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) political objectives.

GOP delegates devoted a significant amount of time to crafting an energy section that addresses environmental issues, such as global warming, in greater detail compared to past platforms.

While the platform does advocate expanded oil and gas drilling to meet the nation's energy needs, the 112-person platform committee agreed to omit language calling for drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a plank in the party's 2004 platform. McCain has voted both ways on the question of drilling in ANWR, but has said this year he believes it should remain off-limits to energy exploration.

Yesterday Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who co-chairs the platform committee, said the delegates sought to match the document's energy provisions with the presumptive GOP nominee's rhetoric.

"We are proud to have passed the most aggressive and innovative energy platform in Republican Party history," McCarthy said in a statement. "Increasing America's energy independence is an issue of critical importance to our nation, and it's an issue on which John McCain has demonstrated strong and continued leadership with his 'all of the above' approach."

The platform's energy section breaks with the past on several fronts: for the first time, the platform acknowledges that human activity has contributed to climate change.

"The same human activity that has brought freedom and opportunity to billions has also increased the amount of carbon in the atmosphere," the document reads. "Increased atmospheric carbon has a warming effect on the earth."

But the platform sidesteps the question of whether to cap carbon emissions on the federal level, an approach McCain endorses.

Aside from the energy section, the rest of the platform strictly adheres to traditional Republican positions. It calls for constitutional amendments banning abortion and gay marriage -- two reforms McCain opposes -- and opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Above all, the platform asserts presidential authority. The document makes it clear that the president, not Congress, should determine how the war is waged in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also calls for an end to all "earmarks" -- provisions where lawmakers specify federal funding for specific projects.

Throughout the day the delegates discussed an endless string of amendments to the platform, most of which were aimed at making the document more conservative. Adrienne Wing, a delegate from Hawaii, tried to change the heading for a section on Social Security from "entitlement reform" to "benefit reform," on the grounds that Americans should not see Social Security as a basic right.

"If we really are sincere about changing -- not changing, improving -- Social Security," she said, interrupting herself, then Republicans need to "change the mindset" about such federal programs.

But other Republicans voted down Wing's proposal, arguing it could become a political liability if Democrats sought to exploit the issue. Tony O'Donnell, a delegate from Maryland, warned against triggering "unintended consequences for us in future elections.... This becomes our platform, not just McCain's platform."

McCain did weigh in on one, relatively obscure issue, by demanding delegates insert language pledging the party's commitment to maintaining a special U.S. envoy for Northern Ireland. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) recently said he would review whether such an envoy was still necessary.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said the senator wanted the envoy commitment "enshrined in the 2008 Republican Platform" to underscore how strongly he feels about the issue.

"The special U.S. envoy was first appointed by President Clinton and has been critical to fostering peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland,'" Rogers said. "That Senator Obama would be willing to toss aside one of the signature diplomatic accomplishments of the Clinton administration and put the progress in Northern Ireland at risk is only further evidence that he is simply not ready to lead."

But Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor pointed out that McCain had frequently criticized Clinton's foreign policy during the mid-1990s, including the former president's decision to grant a visa to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. In a June 1996 Foreign Policy article, McCain wrote of Clinton, "With his credibility now substantially at risk in Northern Ireland, the President finds himself stuck in a conflict that has frustrated the best efforts of many a skilled statesman."

Now that the platform committee has approved the document, it will come before the full convention for a vote on Monday.

By Web Politics Editor  |  August 27, 2008; 10:18 PM ET
Categories:  Conventions , John McCain , Republican Party  
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Senator McCain- opposed a constitutional amendment on gay rights and abortion.
Candidate McCain- supports a constitutional amendment

Senator McCain- supports comprehensive immigration bill.
Candidate McCain- opposes amnesty

I could certainly go on but you get the idea.
Where's the maverick? Funny how his new views happen to coincide with the republican mantra. Yes, that's change you can believe in! He sure is the change candidate!!

Posted by: Shannon | August 30, 2008 11:52 PM | Report abuse

HAYDEN1- THOUGHT SO.... your impression of Obama is truly a mile high and an inch deep...sad

Posted by: Scott | August 28, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

[a small correction, I apologise - -]


Posted by: Hussien for America | August 28, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Hussien for America | August 28, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Hayden1 what's YOUR answer to your candidate heinous opposition to the Infant Protection Act and his just as ridiculous and corrupt support of corn over sugar cane ethanol (7x less global warming but alas Illinois farmers are against such efficiency- might reduce thei profits AND food costs)....hmmm?

Posted by: Scott | August 28, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I decidfed to answer some of these stupid comments made by liberal democrat ,obaba loving idiots, but some of the statements made were so stupid, they don't even call for an answer.

Posted by: elmerck | August 28, 2008 10:55
Thats because you and the GOP have no answers.

Posted by: hayden1 | August 28, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I decidfed to answer some of these stupid comments made by liberal democrat ,obaba loving idiots, but some of the statements made were so stupid, they don't even call for an answer.

Posted by: elmerck | August 28, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Is Denver connected to cable and internet? I don't think so... If it were the dems at the convention would know that thanks to the surge which mccain was right on and obama was dead wrong on, the troops will be coming home 98 and a half years early and baby alex can go back to being a baby free from the worries both of deployment in iraq and expoitation by move on. Org.

Posted by: scott | August 28, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Hello my friend, your site is very good!

Posted by: tngmfnubrk | August 28, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Thank God John McCain is looking out for us. He and the GOP will tell us exactly who we should marry, how we should decide on family matters, how we should pray. I am so glad that the GOP will come into our bedrooms and living rooms and tell us exactly what we should do. The GOP will provide a day-to-day manual on how to live our lives the family-values/moral-values way. Thank heaven we have the GOP, because they have decided that Americans are a bunch of puppy dogs. Thank you John McCain and the GOP you have so much respect for Americans. What on earth would we do without you.

Posted by: hayden1 | August 28, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I listened to some of the discussions on the platform amendments and was agast at the suggestion the platform wanted to specify what makes up a family. The discussion would have left out single parent homes as a family. Do these Repubs not live in thesame century with
us? Families are made of many different factors. Do they not realize there are million of grandparents rasising children
and I wonder how they would classify that family? I don't know what they finally decided on to go for vote on Monday but hope all types of families will watch this one.

Posted by: Anna Weeks | August 28, 2008 1:24 AM | Report abuse

McCain wanted the envoy commitment "enshrined in the 2008 Republican Platform" to underscore how strongly he feels about the issue.

Because this was the legacy of President Clinton and it should be remembered and celebrated. President Clinton's work for peace in Northern Ireland has had profound and prosperous impact on Ireland and the rest of Europe.

Posted by: pete | August 28, 2008 12:49 AM | Report abuse

Yes, we must stop the threat of Northern Ireland. They are causing us to have higher gas prices. Let's invade them...

Posted by: jaythrowback | August 28, 2008 12:21 AM | Report abuse

I can't understand why abortion and gay marriage are federal issues in the first place. Immigration on the other hand definitely is.
Fetuses don't have SSN which is federal matter.
Roe vs. Wade hearing itself was a travesty of justice, IMO. I like to see abortion law be struck down and sent back to the states to deal with as best they can. Not everything has or needed to end up being decided in the Supreme Court of the US.

Posted by: pete | August 27, 2008 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Northern Ireland, What? Ireland is currently the most successful nation in Europe. McCain is getting senile.

Social Security as an Entitlement, changing the constitution to a document that takes away people's freedom!

I'm sorry, but if that is the Republicans' party platform, then God help us!

Posted by: tazmodious | August 27, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

The platform will be torn down by Hurricane Gustav. As it is, oil prices are already on the rise, as the storm threatens the platform.

Posted by: lwps | August 27, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

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