TAMPA, FLA. — The GOP convention doesn’t officially start until Monday, but trouble is already brewing between presumptive nominee Mitt Romney and Republicans who are concerned by his campaign making an aggressive power play to control the party. The drama Friday centered around a contentious meeting of the powerful Rules Committee, where Romney’s campaign lieutenants, led by his legal counsel Ben Ginsberg, pushed through several changes that would give Romney broad authority over the Republican nominating process.
According to one source who was at the meeting, the saga ended with former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, the committee chair, hightailing it out of the building before committee members could submit dissenting minority opinions, or “minority reports.”
In an interview with Business Insider Friday night, Maine’s newly-elected state committeewoman Ashley Ryan, said that committee members opposed to Romney’s plan drafted two minority reports immediately after the meeting, stating their position against the changes. Republican Party rules stipulate that people have one hour to submit a minority report after a meeting of the Rules Committee, and that it must have the support of at least 25 per cent of the committee.
“The rules say that you have an hour after the meeting, but within 15 minutes, we couldn’t find [Chairman Sununu] anywhere,” Ryan, a Ron Paul supporter and member of Maine’s delegation, said. “Finally, we asked an RNC official if they had seen former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu. He said, ‘John Sununu! Everyone’s looking for him! But he left the building.'”
The details around Sununu’s Friday dip are still foggy, and it’s unclear if he ended up receiving the minority reports after all. Convention officials have not yet responded to our email asking for comment.
Earlier on Friday, Ginsberg and other Romney loyalists tried to neuter the threat of a minority report by raising the threshold of support to 40 per cent.
BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller reports that the attempt was forcefully shot down as overreach, even by committee members who voted for Ginsberg’s other proposals, including one that would force states to select delegates based on the results of their primary or caucus, and one that would allow the Republican National Committee to change the rules established at the convention.
“It’s important to make the rules four years in advance, before we know who the favourites are,” Ryan said. “If the national party can just change the rules, what’s the point of having a Rules Committee at all?
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