Opinion

Republican National Committee trying to soothe relationships with Liberty Republicans

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Charlie Spiering,Rand Paul,Ron Paul,Libertarianism,Liberty Republicans

Liberty Republicans. They are the young, more libertarian-minded, grassroots supporters that used to be identified chiefly by their favorite Republican presidential candidate, former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

Now, as the Republican National Committee tries to repair relationships and increase outreach to all political groups, they are doing their best to entice more libertarian Republicans into the fold.

Some of these supporters were turned off by what was described as the "railroading" of Ron Paul supporters by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus during the 2012 convention in Tampa.

But the RNC wants to appear welcoming to the libertarian element in their party, which more established members of the party once derided as "Paultards" after they disrupted events in favor of their candidate.

An RNC official I spoke to agreed that there has definitely been a change within the party, recalling that in 2008, Ron Paul supporters were often shut out of the party process or told to leave.

He pointed out that their mistreatment sent the wrong message to a crucial, younger element of the party.

"There were definitely some folks from the Ron Paul camp that were trying to mess with the rules to get involved in conventions and that sort of thing and there were a lot of young people with them, and this was their first introduction to politics," he said. "They might not have understood [what] the tactics were and all that stuff but you had some people telling them, 'Just leave, get out of here.' They didn't know why, but they were like, 'Wow I went to a Republican convention and the message I got was leave.' That's the exact opposite of what should happen."

Officials in the RNC believe that both they and the more libertarian-minded people in the party have grown more agreeable in subsequent years and should have the opportunity to get involved with the future of the party.

Part of the change is that liberty Republicans are effectively working within the system to improve the party. RNC officials cite the experiences of Iowa Republican Party Chairman A.J. Spiker, a Ron Paul campaign veteran, and Nevada Committeeman James Smack, as proof of their success.

During the party's winter meeting in Washington on Friday, the RNC passed a resolution renouncing the National Security Agency’s surveillance program for its abuses of private liberties.

The resolution was a result of Nevada Committeewoman Diana Orrock and Smack, both former supporters of Paul's campaign.

During the general session of the winter meeting, Priebus specifically hailed Sen. Rand Paul's efforts to assist the RNC's outreach in Michigan, prompting applause from some delegates.

Spiker cited it as a key step going forward in making sure that libertarian issues were part of the Republican Party.

"There are things like wireless wiretaps, surveillance programs on people — that's not going to earn the trust of young people, so our party has to be the party that defends civil liberties and it needs to be a big cornerstone of the party, protecting private property rights and individual rights," he told the Washington Examiner after the resolution passed.

Spiker said that both he and Priebus get criticism from all sides as they work together, but he believes that things are moving in the right direction.

"Certainly people don't agree with me on everything, every vote I take, every decision I make, but I try to do what I believe is right based on the facts that I have," he said.

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