The Republican Party’s primaries are starting to pay off for social conservatives:
The protracted contest in which the party spent months searching for an alternative to its now-presumed nominee, Mitt Romney, with social conservatives rallying around former Senator Rick Santorum for a while, will demand a certain level of respect paid to the party’s base at the Republican National Convention in Tampa at the end of August.
The selection of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell as chairman of the party’s platform committee, announced late today, is the start. In addition, McDonnell leads a state that has maintained low unemployment throughout the worst recession since the 1930s, something that the Democrats will attempt to take as much credit for as Republicans will as President Barack Obama fights for the support of a state that backed his election in 2008.
Also, scratch one from Romney’s short list of possible running mates.
McDonnell, who endorsed Romney in January, has been mentioned as a possible running mate. It appears the party has found another role instead.
“I am honored to serve as Chairman of the Committee on Resolutions,” McDonnell said in a statement issued by the party. ` I look forward to hearing from voters across the country as we seek to give voice to the concerns, priorities, and values of the American people. This process is about more than writing; it is about listening. Voters deserve a party who listens to them.”
For those voters who support the Virginia governor’s March signing of a bill requiring ultrasound tests for women before undergoing abortions, the party is showing it’s listening.The bill sparked protests from abortion rights activists who saw it as designed to make abortions more difficult to get. For Romney, appealing to a broader cross-section of voters now that he has secured the nomination, it’s also what may have kept McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, from going further than the party’s platform writing this year.
One anti-abortion Website, LifeNews.com, hailed the selection of a “pro-life” platform chairman, noting that the party’s last platform took a stand.
“Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,” the platform said. “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”
McDonnell will have some help from co-chairmen Senator John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican, and Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, one of the party’s more outspoken proponents of social issues at the last national convention.
The committee will meet Aug. 19-21 in Tampa. The convention starts Aug. 27.