Mitt Romney's campaign is directing the Republican Party to soften… (John Moore / Getty Images )
TAMPA, Fla. -- At the direction of Mitt Romney’s campaign, the Republican Party is moving to soften its official policy on some of the most cherished ideas of the party’s conservative wing, including restrictions on trade and travel to Cuba and prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military.
Four years ago, the GOP unequivocally proclaimed “the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service” in a platform plank that affirmed the need to “protect our servicemen and women” and “the benefits of traditional military culture.”
Draft language in the 2012 edition, crafted under the tight control of the Romney campaign, drops any reference to gays in the military, however. It also doesn’t directly address President Obama’s decision to abandon the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and let gays and lesbians serve openly.
In its place, the Romney Republicans are offering a vague reference to study Obama’s military personnel policies.
“We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation,” states the 2012 platform. “We will conduct an objective review of the current administration’s management of military personnel and will correct any problems with appropriate administrative of legal action.”
Even more striking, perhaps, the 2012 platform as drafted contains no mention in its foreign policy section of Cuba, a topic of intense interest to pro-Republican Cuban American voters in South Florida and an entrenched piece of Republican dogma for a half-century.
The 2008 platform demanded continued “restrictions on trade with, and travel to, Cuba as a measure of solidarity with the political prisoners and all the oppressed Cuban people.” But Obama has lifted many of the travel restrictions to Cuba, to encourage more personal exchanges with residents of the Communist island. Regular flights are now taking off for Cuba, including from the airport in Tampa, site of next week’s nominating convention for Romney.
At the height of Florida’s pivotal primary last winter, when a surging Newt Gingrich was threatening to knock him from the lead, Romney was outspoken on the subject of Cuba. He told a Miami audience that Obama “does not understand that by helping Castro, he is not helping the people of Cuba. He is hurting them."
But during an appearance this month before a predominantly Latino crowd in the Miami area, Romney never even brought up Cuba, an omission that drew critical comments from local Republicans, including Ana Navarro, a prominent Nicaraguan-American campaign strategist who was active in John McCain’s 2008 campaign.
The 112 GOP convention delegates on the platform committee will be able to offer amendments over the next two days, as they work to complete a draft of the document. It will be sent to the full Republican nominating convention next week for approval.
[For the record, 6:16 p.m., Aug. 20: This post incorrectly reports that the 2012 Republican platform will soften its official policy on restrictions on trade and travel to Cuba. In fact, the platform will continue the party's hard-line rhetoric toward the Communist regime in Cuba. A new post clarifying the situation is here. The post also had an incorrect headline, and described campaign strategist Ana Navarro as Cuban American. She is Nicaraguan American.]
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