January 29th, 2010
07:15 PM ET
8 years ago

'Purity test' causes tension at RNC meeting

Honolulu, Hawaii (CNN) - After the divisive measure gained almost no traction among Republican National Committee members, a "purity test" for GOP candidates was withdrawn Friday before it could be voted on at the party's winter meeting in Hawaii.

Instead, RNC members voted to adopt a watered-down resolution that "urges" party leadership to "carefully screen the record and statements of all candidates who profess to be Republicans" and to determine "that they wholeheartedly support the core principles" of the Republican Party platform.

The new resolution was offered by Bill Crocker, national committeeman from Texas.

The purity resolution – which was first circulated among party members last November and immediately drew criticism from Republicans within the committee and on Capitol Hill – would have required candidates to support at least eight of 10 conservative principles in order to receive financial support from the RNC.

Jim Bopp, the Indiana committeeman and chief sponsor of the purity resolution, insisted that Friday's compromise was not a defeat.

"For the first time in history we are calling upon all Republican leaders to consider the positions of candidates on issues," Bopp told reporters after Friday's general session.

Read the full text of the RNC's resolution after the jump:

But even those who supported the softer measure as an alternative to Bopp's litmus test said the new language is not binding and would have no practical impact on the party's financial decisions.

"There is nothing mandatory in there, and there is nothing required," said Oregon GOP chairman Bob Tiernan. "I am not going to take that back and make my candidate sign it. That is ridiculous."

California GOP chairman Ron Nehring, one of the state party chairs who voted unanimously earlier in the week to oppose the purity test, called the new measure "a nice statement" but said it is "purely advisory."

Others said the issue of candidate support needed to be addressed, especially in the wake of the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district. In that race, a moderate Republican supported and funded by state and national GOP officials was driven out of the contest by conservative activists.

"Most of the GOP and all of the grassroots, all of them have been upset about the Republican Party giving resources to moderate candidates," said Virginia committee member Morton Blackwell. "Unless Republicans can persuade the new grassroots activists that something has changed, then the idea of incorporating them into a permanent Republican majority will not happen."

Even after the purity test was set aside, it was clear that the resolution remained a source of tension between committee members.

When Bopp was speaking to reporters, Tiernan interrupted to dispute Bopp's claim that the new resolution requires party leaders to only support conservative candidates. Bopp turned to Tiernan and snapped: "Shut up."

During Friday's meeting, resolutions committee chairman Henry Barbour addressed the controversy, telling members that certain resolutions "are beginning to water down our message."

"We need to focus more on defeating Democrats in November," Barbour said.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who opposed the purity test, did not mention the measure during his remarks to the committee.

Instead, Steele trained his fire on Democrats and blamed their recent losses in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts on "arrogance" and political overreach.

"The Democrats are in effect daring the American people to stop them," Steele said. "They are playing with fire, and they are going to get burned. And we are going to help burn them."

Full text of the RNC resolution adopted Friday:


WHEREAS, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have recently supported primary or special election candidates who professed allegiance to the Republican Party but who, as their circumstances changed and to serve their own interests, turned against the Republican Party and became or supported a candidate of another party; and

WHEREAS, many Republican leaders and Republican organizations were undermined and lost credibility as a result of the actions of such candidates; and

WHEREAS, there will be many more decisions regarding the support of candidates, and many more opportunities to enhance or diminish the credibility of Republicans and Republican organizations, in the coming election cycle; now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee urges its leadership and the leadership of all Republican organizations to carefully screen the record and statements of all candidates who profess to be Republicans and who desire the support of Republican leaders and Republicans organizations, and determine that they wholeheartedly support the core principles and positions of the Republican Party as expressed in the Platform of the Republican Party adopted at the 2008 National Convention; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee urges that no support, financial or otherwise, be given to candidates who clearly do not support the core principles and positions of the Republican Party as expressed in the Platform of the Republican Party adopted in the 2008 National Convention.

As approved by the Committee on Resolutions, January 28, 2010.

Updated at 7:15 p.m. with additional information and full text of RNC resolution.

Filed under: RNC
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. chelle

    Do you think this has anything to do with Scott Brown winning and the fact he is a moderate Republican and the whole country is interested in him?

    January 29, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |

    Of course it ws dropped! No one could pass it.

    January 29, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  3. Just Saying...

    such hypocrites...

    January 29, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  4. Mickey

    A welcomed strike-out for the GOP...seems they got the hint:


    January 29, 2010 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  5. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Sounds like a distinction without a difference.
    Sounds like there will be blood oaths and dancing naked around the bonfire.
    Sounds like there will be an ever more inbred Republitocracy bent on a never evolving set of "core principals designed to send them screaming into the dustbin of history...

    Good Riddance.

    January 29, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  6. Crazy Harry

    Core principles of the republican party?

    Obstruction, no morals or ethics, no government involvement (except on abortion), extreme hypocrisy.

    That should be a good start

    January 29, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  7. OldUncleTom

    Suggest the GOP focus on criminal and moral behavior issues in their ranks, before they tackle complicated things like "principles".

    I would still rather be Harry Reid than John Ensign, and we all know that is only one example of a sitting official.

    January 29, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  8. Keith In Austin

    So the republicans decided to play nice with the socialist/facist in chief.
    Obama just lectured them and let him get away with it.
    TeaParty = Third Party

    January 29, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  9. Jin

    Has the far right of the Repugnican party finally realized how out to lunch MOST Americans see them to be??

    January 29, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  10. Dick Henry

    They must promise to be deeply opposed to everything.

    January 29, 2010 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  11. postedbygeorge

    Purity test, urge test. Painting an item a different color doesn't change the item.

    January 29, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  12. Who said the Mayans were wrong?

    Their cats out of the bag,they may as well hand out brown shirts.

    January 29, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  13. MatthewDetroit

    So the Communist Party of the US... supports Barack Obama and

    agrees 100% with his plans.

    Nice we have a communist president in the United States of AMerica.

    Amazing. The CP of US supports Barack.


    January 29, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  14. John in WV

    This is what you call bi-partisanship.

    January 29, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  15. Barry the Neomonarchist

    So called "purity test" by CNN and other Democrat Party organizations.

    January 29, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  16. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Now the republicans have flip flopped on their communist principles.

    January 29, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  17. jeff

    Purity test? Core principals of the GOP? Must be an obstructionist,atraitor to the American people,belive something to be true just because you say so?

    January 29, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  18. MCD, SF, CA

    Currently, only 22 percent of voters are registered as Republican! Seems to me, they just want an exclusive club... I say.. let them have it!

    January 29, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  19. CR

    It's already "purified", pure kookery that is.

    January 29, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  20. carlos

    core principles of the republican party platform..........lie, disrupt,spew hatred and be the real evil......bunch of cheating misogynists

    January 29, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  21. Tim

    And what, exactly, ARE those core principles?

    January 29, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  22. Bludgeon

    Awwwww. Too bad! Now they can't limit the Republican candidates to the certified wackos. There might be a moderate, candidate with reasoning ability that might actually accept that the world is round, that the earth goes around the sun (not vice versa), that the earth maybe more than 5000 years old, evolution is a better explanation of life on earth than the story in Genesis, that a certain level of equitable taxation is necessary for a civilized society, that perhaps Obama was NOT born in Kenya, that the Obama health plan does NOT contain mandatory death panels, that the South did not win the Civil War, that Obama DID win the last election, and that wanting Obama to fail also means a treasonous inclination for the whole country to go to hell so they can get back into power.
    And if THAT is possible, God help them, how are they going to keep the lid on?

    January 29, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  23. Gary

    They don't need a test. They have Sara Palin to point them out.

    January 29, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  24. Stop the Nonsense

    If you don't think and act like us- do not apply.
    How forward thinking!
    The Democratic Party will be around for a long time to come.
    Thank you Republicans,

    January 29, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  25. Dave C - NJ

    Wow...they are getting a bit smarter...

    January 29, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
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