At 2:00 p.m. today in Tampa, the Republican National Committee, led by Team Romney, is moving to shut down conservative grassroots activists. I’ve been on the phone with several individuals involved in the fight who tell me that the fight is not over, it is only just starting.Specifically, the media is reporting that the rules fight is over because Team Romney is abandoning Ben Ginsberg’s effort to allow candidates to control delegates. Under an initial proposal, delegates would, in effect, be chosen by the presumed nominee’s campaign and not based on votes in the states and delegate selection processes in the states.That issue appears resolved, but several people I’ve spoken to this morning make clear that Team Romney and the RNC establishment are using that compromise as a red herring to distract from two major rules change proposals that would decimate Republican grassroots and prevent upstart political campaigns.Reports that the floor fight threat is over might be designed to calm the grassroots and get them to ignore what is coming at 2 o’clock.The first rule to be proposed is one that would give the Republican National Committee the power to change rules between conventions with a three-quarters vote of the RNC. One source tells me, “With a Republican President, of course this is doable. Everybody will roll over if a President Romney asks them too. They’ll be able to get Ben Ginsberg’s proposal next year.” In other words, if Team Romney prevails in this rules change, they don’t have to worry about Ben Ginsberg not getting his way today on the delegate changes. They’ll be able to do it later when the press and grassroots are not watching.The second rules change would front load winner takes all primaries. Grassroots conservatives point to both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum as reasons to stop this rule. Had there been front loaded winner takes all primaries, neither the Gingrich nor the Santorum campaigns would have been able to get any traction.”This is going to be a fight on the floor if they don’t back down. They have too much pride to back down and we’re going to humble them,” said one delegate to the convention.Another tells me, “They’ve gotten social conservatives comfortable with the platform and now that they’re placated [Team Romney] is going to undercut them with this change.”Speaking to one person familiar with the rules changes who supports them, I’m told a number of people support the changes because they see the current rules as efforts by Michael Steel to “liven up” the process, but all it did was run up the cost and drag it out. “Are we really going to keep the status quo because the guy who brought the convention to hurricane country in hurricane season thought they were a good idea?” the delegate asked.The Rules Committee will meet at 2:00 p.m. today in Tampa to consider the rules changes. If they make it through the committee, delegates are telling me they promise a huge floor fight and there’s no guarantee Team Romney will get its way given the current make up of the delegates in Tampa.
GOP Rules Committee Rapidly Moving to Shut Out Grassroots at 2:00 p.m. Today