TAMPA—A potential floor fight over new party rules that weakened grassroots candidates has been averted after Romney surrogates offered a compromise that softens the original change.
The entire Texas delegation, as well as delegates supporting Ron Paul, were opposed to the rules put forward last week by Romney supporters. The new rules would have allowed the GOP presidential candidate to dismiss and replace state-elected delegates at his or her whim. In the compromise version of the rule, delegates who are pledged to vote for a certain candidate at the national convention and yet do not can be dismissed. Gov. Haley Barbour's nephew, Henry Barbour, hashed out the compromise with delegates from Indiana last night to avoid a floor fight over the proposed change.
"We are satisfied with the compromise," said Texas delegate Melinda Fredricks. "We now can freely elect our delegates." Fredricks is a member of the RNC rules committee and led opposition to the original rule. Even with the compromise, however, the resulting rules, which will be officially adopted on Tuesday afternoon, significantly reduce the chances that an insurgent candidate like Paul could accumulate delegates without also getting substantial support from primary or caucus voters.
Another new statute overrides states that don't bind delegates based on the primary or caucus vote, such as Maine and Minnesota, where a candidate could end up with a significant number of delegates even without winning a majority of the vote. "Frankly we're not thrilled with them but ... it's not the hill that we would die on," Fredricks said.