Connecticut delegation applauds Romney, not platform

Tampa, Fla. — On a day when Mitt Romney, a former governor of a neighboring state formally won the Republican nomination for president, Connecticut’s delegates to the GOP convention were torn as the party adopted a conservative platform with tough planks on abortion, gay marriage and immigration.

“Social issues don’t belong in a platform,” said state Rep. Themis Klarides of Derby, a member of the platform committee and the deputy minority leader of a state House caucus that traditonally recoils from social issues.

The platform calls for a human life amendment to the Constitution that would provide full protections to fetuses and would outlaw abortions under every circumstance, even in cases of rape or incest and when the life of the mother is threatened.

Klarides Boughton

Themis Klarides (l) talks to Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.

“(We) assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed,” the platform said.

The platform opposes gay marriage, which is legal in Connecticut and Romney’s home state of Massachusetts, supports the establishment of a commission to study the return of the United States to the gold standard, and supports the transition of Medicare to a voucher system.

It called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the self-deportation of undocumented immigrants, keeping Bush era tax breaks and reducing all tax rates by 20 percent.

The platform even contains a plank recommitting to a forceful prosecution of pornography.

Chris Shays, the former congressman who recently lost a primary for U.S. Senate to Linda McMahon, said he would not support “a plank that takes away a woman’s right to choose.”

Even so, the platform was adopted nearly unanimously by voice vote of the delegates, even as Connecticut’s delegates — many who describe themselves as pro-choice —  did not have much enthusiasm for it. But there was only a smattering of “no’s” among the more than 2,000 delegates on the platform vote.

Shays, like many moderate Republicans, diminished the important of the 50-page platform.

“It really doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

Others, like Ed Cox, the chairman of the New York Republican Party, said it’s impossible to get unanimity on something as complex as a party platform.

“You are not going to get anyone in a delegation to agree with for everything in the platform,” Cox said.

Democrats, however, are going to attack Republican candidates for the more extreme planks.

But Vin Moscardelli, professor of political science at the University of Connecticut, said the platform is likely to have limited impact on voters.

“Very few campaigns turn on the national party platform,” he said.

But  Moscardelli said the platform, especially the planks on gay rights and abortion, will help Democrats raise funds.

“They will scare donors,” he said.

The platform was a distraction from message the GOP wants to broadcast from Tampa: a party unified in its support of Romney and its opposition to President Obama, who will be nominated by Democrats next week in Charlotte, N.C.

The state’s delegates cast all votes for Romney, who closed to within seven percentage points of Obama in Connecticut in a Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters released earlier in the day — a margin close to Obama’s lead in the swing state of Ohio.

“Madame Secretary, the Constitution State, home of the next senator of the United States, Linda McMahon, proudly casts our 28 votes for Mitt Romney,” announced Jerry Labriola, the state GOP chairman.

McMahon was in Connecticut, where she will be campaigning at dairy farms this week. The same Quinnipiac poll showed her leading by 3 percentage points over Democrat Chris Murphy.

There was also discord on the convention floor Tuesday.

Supporters of Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, chanted “seat them now” and booed after Republican convention delegates adopted new rules that could impede insurgent candidates.

The new rules say delegates who support candidates other than the one they are obligated to support would have their votes nullified.

During the roll call of the states that gave Romney the nomination, chairwoman Kimberly Reynolds ignored the votes cast for Paul, prompting  the congressman’s supporter to shout them out.

In the end, about 220 votes were cast for Paul.