January 29th, 2010
07:15 PM ET
13 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measure gained almost no traction among Republican National Committee members, a "purity test" for GOP candidates was withdrawn Friday before it could be voted on at the party's winter meeting in Hawaii.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. dale

    Republicans have not principles.

    January 29, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  2. Steve (the real one)

    It should have never come up but I am certainly glad it is dead! This would have pushed out moderate voices!

    January 29, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  3. Ken in Mt

    It's hard to beleive that the "party of No" would show enough good sence to shoot this goof-ball sugestion down. it maybe that the Republicans may not be in the laps of the neo-facsists after all.
    That they would even consider it just goes to show how far right wing they have become.

    January 29, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  4. Scott, Tucson

    The Democrat purity test is simple... If you are a worker or business owner, we will tax you to death and give the money to someone who doesn't want to work.

    January 29, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  5. Ryan E

    The idea of a political party having a "purity test" is really scary to me given our current two party system. We need moderates and realists, not people pledged to certain political ideals.

    January 29, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  6. 8 Years of the Bush Error = Recession and Record Unemployment for ? Years.

    No, the Reds did not side step the purity test.

    They only prevented the new 10 Commandments from being chiseled into stone, but these test are still very much in use.

    January 29, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  7. Turnabout is Fair Play

    Reminds me of the "Paper bag test" that light skinned blacks had to pass in order to be given a slightly better chance at a better life than dark skinned blacks.. if you weren't light skinned enough, tough luck darkie, if you were light-skinned enough, welcome aboard but remember your place... this happened back in the day, Steele should know he would have failed the test... the difference between field slaves and house slaves was skin lightness...this "purity test" sound eerily similar...GOP, never count them out to be ignorant every time!

    January 29, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  8. gr

    Yea, the GOP no the Tea Baggers right wing nuts are going to destroy them more then help them. I can hear the Tea Baggers screaming.

    January 29, 2010 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  9. j

    I have to wonder if Theodore Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln would be welcomed into today's Republican party or if they'd want to be members.

    January 29, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  10. Mikey from Utah

    Maybe they should just administer a rabies test. No rabies, no Republican.

    January 29, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  11. SC-Pub "no" more

    This purity crap is the blood of the new "I-Am-More-Self-Righteous-Than-You" crowd... formerly know as "Dixiecrats."

    January 29, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  12. found work without help of stimulus or obama

    here is your purity, I am renouncing my membership in the Republican party and becoming an Independent.

    January 29, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  13. R in Maine

    Why don't they just rely on the fact that they all wear "brown shirts"?

    January 29, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  14. Keith in Austin

    If they don't agree to the pledge, vote third party.

    January 29, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  15. Darth Cheney

    Can you just imagine what the wingnuts would be saying if the Democrats had a "purity test?" They'd be screaming about Hitler and Stalin and every kind of garbage imaginable.

    January 29, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  16. Barry the Neomonarchist

    Campbell Brown's ugly tirade against Congressman Pence was disgusting. He came on CNN live tonight, in good faith, and yet again CNN took its que from the Obama mob squad and went after him.

    January 29, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  17. John

    The Republicans are starting to sound more and more like the American Nazi Party!

    January 29, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  18. FedUpRepublican

    Didn’t the Nazi’s also have a “purity resolution”? What an interesting parallel. Such is the direction of the Republican Party of the 21st century where any politician who has a moral conscience and subscribes to freedom of thought is considered a detriment and a liability to the Republican party of today. The party leadership is basically saying that if you’re not a self-serving, arrogant, mindless drone who’s willing to fall in line and rubber stamp our ultra-conservative agenda, then don’t bother applying for the job.

    January 29, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  19. P. D.

    Don't the Republicans realize this 'Purity Test' will spell doom for their Party? Reagan himself couldn't pass the darn thing. Stupid idea Republicans. Very stupid.

    January 29, 2010 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
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