Romney rule change fight on convention floor?

Zeke Miller is reporting that a set of changes to the convention rules pushed through by Mitt Romney’s team is raising a few hackles among the delegates and could potentially lead to a squabble on the convention floor. The modifications in question deal – among other things – with the method used to select and approve the individual delegates from each state.

Frustration over changes to the Republican Party’s rules pushed through by the Romney Campaign on Friday may lead to a fight on the floor of the Republican National Convention on Monday.

The Convention Committee on Rules took a number of steps on Friday to weaken the power of state conventions and state parties, while consolidating the power of presidential candidates in the nominating process. Some of the changes — to require that delegations from statewide caucuses and primaries to the convention adhere to the will of voters — weakened the hand of insurgent-type candidates but have been well received by the committee. But a change allowing presidential candidates the right to vet their own delegates to the national convention has many state party officials up in arms — and they are planning to bring it to the convention floor.

It’s tempting, and probably valid, to not read too terribly much into this. The main reason is that they can, and do, change the rules every four years, so nothing is ever really written in stone. It’s also somewhat understandable that the candidate – any candidate – would want to control events as much as possible and keep things flowing smoothly. By the time we get to this stage of the proceedings in an election cycle in the modern era, the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Who wants a bunch of infighting at this late date? Some of the changes could also be seen as a way to tamp down any last minute theatrics from sour grapes primary contenders.

But the idea of allowing the nominee to “vet” the delegates from each state party and essentially hand pick the most compliant is certainly disturbing. In the end, the convention is not the show for the candidate to run, but rather the time for the individual state parties to officially anoint the winner. And if they have comments to include or issues to debate, that’s their right.

We do want the process to be a time of celebration and a chance for the candidate to launch a broad introduction of themselves to the voting public. With that in mind, it’s a net positive to avoid turning it into a circular firing squad. But the process shouldn’t be so burdensome and heavy handed that it turns the entire proceeding into a complete beauty pageant. Or at least that’s how I see it.