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CAMPAIGN '88 : Michigan GOP Fears Convention Floor Fight

November 19, 1987|James Risen

Michigan Republican officials are worried that the continuing wrangle over delegate selection rules, involving Vice President George Bush's campaign on one side and the campaigns of Rep. Jack Kemp of New York and Pat Robertson on the other, could end up in an accreditation battle on the floor of the GOP National Convention in August.

The state Republican convention Jan. 29-30 will be the first event in the nation to choose delegates to the party's national convention. But the rules fight is so bitter and complicated that it is obscuring the convention's significance and causing most candidates to pay far less attention to Michigan than to Iowa and New Hampshire.

The Bush camp has been on the defensive in Michigan ever since the Robertson and Kemp forces formed an uneasy alliance last winter to take control of the state GOP's rules-making central committee.

Now the Bush campaign is denouncing an attempt by the Kemp-Robertson alliance to change the way delegates to the January state convention are selected. Bush aides say the change is designed to ensure a Bush defeat.

The Kemp-Robertson forces are calling for a Dec. 12 meeting of the state central committee to approve the rules changes--and because they control a majority of the committee, approval is likely.

In effect, Bush officials say, the changes would mean that each county would choose its delegates to the state convention in the same way that they selected them for a midterm state convention held last February. That's a problem for Bush, because Robertson dominated the earlier gathering.

The Bush camp wants to keep the current system for January's convention, which would allow each county to determine on its own how to select its delegates.

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