President Donald Trump said Friday he wants “a new and updated” Republican Party platform after the Republican National Committee voted this week to carry over the 2016 document.
But Trump may be stuck with the old platform, which is peppered with jeremiads about the “current administration” that were originally written about President Barack Obama.
The trouble began with a fight between Trump and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper over coronavirus restrictions in Charlotte, the host city for the Republican National Convention. Cooper, a Democrat, rejected Trump’s demand to hold the convention without social distancing measures, so Republicans decided to move the renomination acceptance speech to Jacksonville, Florida.
RNC rules dictated that because the party’s business could not be carried out within the original convention site or the original convention city, only a roll call vote for nominating the president or vice president was allowed.
In such a situation, the old platform carries over, according to a senior Trump campaign official who was not authorized to comment and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
That means the 2016 platform, which includes plenty of cutting jabs meant for another president, might have to stand. It slams the administration over its handling of a broad range of issues, including its Middle East policy, a reliance on executive orders and a ballooning national debt.
On the national debt, the platform complains that the “current Administration’s refusal to work with Republicans took our national debt from $10 trillion to nearly $19 trillion today.
“Left unchecked, it will hit $30 trillion by 2026,” Republicans wrote in 2016.
In fact, the national debt has exceeded $26 trillion this week and is on pace to surpass the $30 trillion mark well before 2026.
At another point, the platform notes that “the current Administration has abandoned America’s friends and rewarded its enemies.”
Trump has faced criticism from Democrats for his close relationships with strongmen like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Speaking of Kim, Trump famously declared that “we’ve fallen in love."
Trump on Friday suggested he wanted the party’s principles spelled out in a more abbreviated form.
“The Republican Party has not yet voted on a Platform. No rush,” Trump tweeted Friday. “I prefer a new and updated Platform, short form, if possible.”
Trump could still offer his own guiding principles for the party, separate from the platform. The Trump campaign declined to comment on whether the president would issue a separate document.
“There is nothing in the world stopping President Trump from very publicly leaving his imprint on the party’s direction,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel blamed Cooper for the awkward situation and underscored that Republicans are fully behind Trump.
“NC’s Dem Gov refused to let our full platform committee meet,” McDaniel tweeted. “2016 platform is clearly talking about Obama. From record turnout to his 73-0 endorsement record, our party fully backs @realDonaldTrump.”
But some conservatives applauded the RNC for carrying forward the 2016 platform.
Colleen Holcomb, president of the conservative organization Eagle Forum, said it had sent a letter to the White House and RNC officials earlier this week raising concerns about news reports that the party was weighing a platform that amounted to a simplified, one-page document that would detail the party’s core values.
“The 2016 Platform reflects the values and priorities of the grassroots, the forgotten men and women that President Trump pledged to represent, and he has clearly used it as a policy guide," Holcomb said.