TAMPA–On Monday morning, at a meeting of more than 100 Texan delegates and alternates at the Saddlebrook Resort 20 miles north of Tampa, one topic got the crowd more fired up than any other. Delegate Melinda Fredricks read aloud a letter condemning recent changes to the national Republican party’s rules that would allow the GOP presidential candidate to veto and replace state delegates.
“Our delegates are in shock that such an amendment even would be presented before the Rules Committee much less passed into rule,” Fredricks said. “Please know from the Texas delegation standpoint that the only way a floor fight can be avoided is for this rule to be stricken.”
At that point, the entire Texas delegation stood up and applauded.
Texans don’t necessarily want to have an ugly floor fight on the same day the party officially nominates Mitt Romney. But they’re willing to do it if their concerns about the rule aren’t satisfied. The changes, which Mitt Romney’s top lawyer put forward last week and Gov. Haley Barbour along with some other Romney supporters have embraced, are seen by opponents as intended to significantly weaken the power of grassroots politics and insurgent candidates such as Ron Paul. Many against the move worry that it would give national candidates the power to replace delegates–often grassroots party faithfuls–with big-time donors or friends.
“We truly consider that an infringement on our rights,” Fredricks, a member of the rules committee, told Yahoo News of the changes. Today, states generally choose their delegates at state conventions, and then those individuals travel to the national convention to cast their vote for a candidate based on the share the candidate won of the primary or caucus vote of each state. But, the changes could allow a candidate such as Mitt Romney to boot out any delegates who are assigned to vote for him and replace them.