ELEPHANT CORNER: An Insider’s View at the RNC

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HOUSE SPEAKER Paul Ryan and others played a key role in solidifying the Penna. delegation's support for the GOP national ticket in Cleveland.

HOUSE SPEAKER Paul Ryan and othersplayed a key role in solidifying the Penna. delegation’s support for the GOP national ticket in Cleveland.

The Republican National Convention commenced on Sunday with an event at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The Philadelphia delegates to the Convention include PAGOP GENERAL COUNSEL LAWRENCE TABAS and WARD LEADERS SETH KAUFER (2nd), CALVIN TUCKER (22nd) and CHRIS VOGLER (55th). Alternate Delegates include Republican City Committee Fundraising CHAIRMAN BILL PETTIGREW and COMMITTEEWOMAN CAMILLE McCOLGAN, as well as WARD LEADERS GARY GRISAFI (55), DENISE FUREY (46th) and DAN TINNEY (66th).

Monday’s events started for our contingent with a Pennsylvania Delegation breakfast. Pennsylvania CHAIRMAN ROB GLEASON officially welcomed all. Gleason said the three most important states to a presidential victory are Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

This may be the reason the PAGOP was able to land a breakfast speaker as prominent as US SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE PAUL RYAN. Ryan was introduced by CONGRESSMAN BOB SHUSTER (PA-9). Other Pennsylvania Congressmen at the breakfast included TOM MARINO (PA-10), MIKE KELLY (PA-3), G.T. THOMPSON (PA-5) and KEITH ROTHFUS (PA-12). Ryan gave a nod to his former colleague PHIL ENGLISH.

Ryan started by stating, “We are only as strong as our party is strong” and continued to emphasize party unity. Ryan also noted, “You [Pennsylvanians] could make the decision on this [election],” thus echoing Gleason’s observation that Pennsylvania is pivotal to a presidential victory this year. No Democrat since Truman has won the presidency without Pennsylvania.

Ryan noted we cannot win by “default” – suggesting that merely criticizing PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA and HILLARY CLINTON is not enough to win in November despite how unhappy the electorate is with the current direction in which the country is going. Ryan noted that a recent Gallup poll showed 7 in 10 Americans feel that we are going in the wrong direction.

Ryan and the Republican caucus have put together the plan, “A Better Way,” which covers six key policy areas: poverty, tax reform, national security, health care, cutting regulations and restoring constitutional authority. During the breakfast speech, he spoke of how the War on Poverty started by PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON 50 years ago, and which has cost us trillions of dollars, has been an abject failure in that the poverty rate is not really any better. The GOP plan is aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty.

He spoke of the unnecessary regulations and taxes that are choking our small businesses. He noted many small businesses pay taxes at the individual tax rate that can reach over 40%. The highest US corporate tax rate is 35%. He noted the corporate tax rate across the lake (Canada) from his home state Wisconsin is 15%. We lose business to countries like Canada, Ireland (12.5% corporate tax rate) and the United Kingdom (18% corporate tax rate) with lower tax rates.

Speaking about the burdensome regulations our businesses face, he noted these rules are frequently promulgated by unelected bureaucracies and not by state or federal legislatures. A Better Way wants to bring rulemaking back to those answerable to the people.

He was particularly critical of the Obama administration’s abuse of executive power. Specifically, he mentioned environmental regulations like the Clean Power Plan. President Obama could not get similar policies to the CPP through Congress even when the Democrats controlled both houses. So the US Environmental Protection Agency did an end-run around the legislatures.

The Convention formally opened at 1 p.m. with a welcoming speech from Republican National Committee CHAIRMAN REINCE PRIEBUS. He called for the approval by the delegates of a temporary Convention Chairman: SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL. A voice vote affirmed McConnell. Priebus then called for the various committees to leave the hall and caucus. They returned hours later and the approval process of the committee recommendations was smooth until the Rule Committee policies came up for a vote.

Essentially, the RNC rules affecting how the various states allocated delegate in voting for the President remained unchanged. Oddly enough, there were very vocal delegates (both pro-Trump and dump-Trump) who were outraged. Other media outlets reported it was the dump-Trump people who were upset.

But from where I was sitting on the second tier, it did appear that a number of Trump supporters were not happy also. I understand some Trump supporters feared unbound delegates would vote against their man. The anti-Trump crowd wanted elected delegates in states that required those delegates to vote according to primary outcomes to be released.

It is my understanding that Trump had enough votes to win under the current rules. Furthermore, it was also my understanding that any rules change would be for four years from now. Frankly, I think it would only be fair to make any rules change effective for 2020. Delegates (those elected in the primaries) in states like Pennsylvania spent time and effort getting over 250 signatures to be on the ballot as well as campaigning. Changing the rules at the last minute is something done in dictatorships.

An attempt from the floor for a roll-call vote on the issue failed because not enough states had issued written requests for the roll call. It was determined by the committee chairman that the voice vote was “yes.”

Many were remained unhappy and continued to be very vocal. US SEN. JOHN BARRASSO from the Platform Committee walked onto the stage during this to-do and saved the day. His speech on Republican values while asking the delegates to vote on the newly minted platform unified the crowd.

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