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Ron Nehring

Team Romney Takes New Control of RNC Rules

The Romney team at the convention in Tampa pulled a surprise move that will make RNC meetings under President Romney much more interesting.

With the control of the vast majority of the convention delegates and therefore the rules committee in Tampa, the Romney team has broad powers to reshape the rules of the national Republican Party.  Historically the convention, and only the convention, adopts the rules that govern the national Republican Party for the next four years.

Until now.

Under a rules change adopted today on a 63-38 vote, the convention’s Rules Committee adopted a change which will allow the 168-member RNC to alter party rules going forward.

Here’s what that means.

The RNC Chairman is technically elected by the 168 members of the RNC, but when we hold the White House, that’s an illusion.  The practical reality is that President Romney will appoint the RNC Chairman and other RNC leaders.  In effect, the RNC will become an extension of the White House political operation.

Under the new rules, the Romney White House will be in a position to use its considerable sway over the RNC to change almost any rule at an RNC meeting (the body meets twice each year, plus a state chairmen’s meeting that is not an official proceeding).  RNC meetings obviously draw considerably less attention than national conventions, and the convention’s rules committee is more broadly constituted than the RNC’s Rules Committee.

BIG CHANGES UNLIKELY.  Under the proposed new rule, a change in RNC rules can now be made with the approval of 3/4ths of the RNC’s 168 members – no small threshold.  Additionally, the members of the RNC Rules Committee will continue to be elected by each state’s delegation, not appointed by the Chairman.

Finally, two-thirds of the RNC’s members for 2012 – 2016 have already been elected, so a “stacking” of the RNC membership is unlikely during President Romney’s term.

In my experience as an RNC member including two years as Chairman of the RNC’s State Chairmen’s Committee, it will be difficult for the Romney White House to push through radical changes to RNC rules.  Yet, you can bet that with its new powers, all sectors of the party will begin to pay much more attention to who is elected to the RNC, and what happens at its meetings.  The days of sleepy RNC Rules meetings are over.