News Briefs from the Republican National Convention in Tampa - Southern Maryland Headline News

News Briefs from the Republican National Convention in Tampa

Paul Rules

Maryland's National Committeeman Louis Pope informed Maryland delegates Tuesday morning of a proposed change to the national Republican Party's rules that would have allowed the GOP presidential candidate to veto and replace state delegates.

After complaints from Ron Paul supporters and others, the rule, which was pushed by Mitt Romney supporters, was withdrawn. Other rule changes have been approved by the party, including one that says if delegates are bound to a candidate but try to vote for someone else, that vote will be changed to support the original candidate.

The proposed rule allowing a presidential candidate to replace delegates wouldn't have affected Maryland much, Pope said, as a majority of the state's delegates were voted in on the April ballot, with only a few others confirmed at the state convention.

"In Maryland, we don't have that problem because your names actually appeared on the ballot," Pope said. "The voters actually voted for our delegates."

But the proposed change upset some delegates from Maryland and other states. Maryland House Delegate Michael Smigiel, R-Cecil, questioned Pope during the breakfast over whether or not this was an intrusion on states' rights.

"A compromise has been brokered, but nonetheless, I have a very big concern with the national party interfering with the state parties," alternate delegate John Fiastro said.

The discussion on the rule change arose after Paul supporters inundated conventions in about nine states, at times voting out party officials and swaying the numbers.

"Once the voters had voted and Mitt Romney had won those battles ... the Ron Paul forces would flood those caucuses and conventions with dozens of busloads of wild and crazy Ron Paul supporters," Pope said. "It skewed the process dramatically. Because while Romney won a state, you get 5,000 Ron Paul supporters showing up at a convention in Nevada and basically changing the process."

But the proposed rule change isn't about Paul supporters, Maryland GOP Chairman Alex Mooney said. It's about whether a state can seat its properly elected delegates.

Even though a compromise was reached allowing the state parties to select the delegates without interference from the party's presidential candidate, the initial proposal was troubling, Mooney said.

"I would oppose any mechanism that would allow a delegate to be thrown out," Mooney said. "The initial proposition was an overreach, and I think it's pretty clear they realized it. But just the fact that it was tried was cause for concern."

-- By Caitlin Johnston.

Encouraging Dream

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach encouraged Maryland delegates Tuesday morning in their fight to pass the Dream Act Referendum on Maryland's ballot this fall. The referendum would overturn legislation guaranteeing in-state tuition to some undocumented immigrants.

"You guys are some battle-hardened Republicans and I have to say I appreciate what you do fighting the good fight," Kobach said. "We are all watching very intently around the country on your ballot issue coming up on in-state tuition for illegal aliens."

About 13 states have passed a version of the Dream Act, but Maryland is only the second state to try to overturn that legislation, Kobach said.

-- By Caitlin Johnston.

Immigrant Protest

As Maryland delegates rally to overturn the Dream Act through a referendum on this November's ballot, more than 200 people gathered in Tampa Tuesday afternoon to protest what they called the Republican Party's anti-immigration and anti-voting-rights platform.

Erika Andiola, 25, an undocumented immigrant from Arizona, shared her story with the protesters gathered at Ybor Centennial Park and chastised the Republican Party for anti-immigrant rhetoric. A Dream Act supporter herself, she said she knows many undocumented youth in Maryland going door to door to inform voters about the referendum.

Maryland's Dream Act, enacted this year, would allow some illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state schools. But a referendum that would overturn the Dream Act will be on November's ballot.

"They already voted for the Dream Act and in-state tuition in Maryland, but we want them to allow it to be enacted," Andiola said. "As someone who knows many Dreamers in Maryland, I don't want them to be at that point where they graduate from high school and then don't know what to do."

Though Tuesday's protest specifically attacked the Republican Party, Maryland GOP delegates argued the Dream Act Referendum is an issue that crosses party lines. About 30 percent of signatures acquired to put the referendum on the ballot were from Democrats, said Michael Pappas, alternate delegate and former party parliamentarian.

"This is an issue that affects every hard-working person in the state of Maryland that's already overtaxed and overworked," Pappas said. "We have a responsibility to these children while they're here to educate them, but we don't have a responsibility to make sure they pay less than our neighbors in Virginia."

-- By Caitlin Johnston.

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