The Trail

Speaking to the black caucus, Michelle Obama used struggle as motivation.
Speaking to the black caucus, Michelle Obama used struggle as motivation. (By Bill Ross -- Associated Press)
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Thursday, August 28, 2008


Republicans Adopt Platform That Plays to Conservatives

Republicans adopted a slimmed-down, conservative-leaning platform Wednesday night in a unanimous committee vote, peppering it with provisions that mesh with John McCain's political objectives. The platform will come before the full convention for a vote on Monday.

GOP delegates devoted a significant amount of time to crafting an energy section that addresses environmental issues, such as global warming, in greater detail compared with past platforms.

While the platform advocates expanded oil and gas drilling to meet the nation's energy needs, the 112-person committee agreed to omit language calling for drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a plank in the party's 2004 platform. McCain has voted both ways on the question of drilling in ANWR, but has said this year he believes it should remain off-limits to energy exploration.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), who co-chairs the platform committee, said the delegates sought to match the document's energy provisions with the presumptive GOP nominee's rhetoric.

"We are proud to have passed the most aggressive and innovative energy platform in Republican Party history," McCarthy said in a statement. "Increasing America's energy independence is an issue of critical importance to our nation, and it's an issue on which John McCain has demonstrated strong and continued leadership with his 'all of the above' approach."

Aside from the energy section, the rest of the platform largely adheres to traditional Republican positions. It calls for constitutional amendments banning abortion and same-sex marriage -- two changes McCain has disavowed -- and opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Above all, the platform asserts presidential authority. The document makes it clear that the president, not Congress, should determine how war is waged in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also calls for an end to all "earmarks," provisions in which lawmakers specify federal funding for specific projects -- a position McCain has championed. In one controversial vote, the platform committee approved a total ban on embryonic stem cell research.

The platform's energy section breaks with the past on several fronts. For the first time, it acknowledges that human activity has contributed to climate change.

"The same human activity that has brought freedom and opportunity to billions has also increased the amount of carbon in the atmosphere," the document reads. "Increased atmospheric carbon has a warming effect on the earth."

But the platform sidesteps the question of whether to cap carbon emissions on the federal level, an approach McCain endorses.

Throughout the day, the delegates discussed an endless string of amendments to the platform, most of which were aimed at making the document more conservative. Adrienne Wing, a delegate from Hawaii, tried to change the heading for a section on Social Security from "entitlement reform" to "benefit reform," on the grounds that Americans should not see Social Security as a basic right.

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