Republicans

GOP asks for public's help crafting 2016 platform, launches interactive website

Reince Priebus solicits voter feedback

 

Donald Trump’s rise has fueled an identity crisis of sorts for the Republican Party – and now, the GOP is seeking the public’s help defining what the party of 2016 represents. 

On the heels of the final primary contests that solidified Trump’s claim to the nomination, the Republican National Committee on Wednesday launched an interactive website, www.platform.gop, for people to share what they would like to see in the party’s platform. That document will be drafted and adopted at the convention in July.

“While Democrats are letting party insiders write their platform behind closed doors, Platform.gop is proof of our Party’s philosophy of listening to the voice of the people and honoring the democratic process,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

The site asks users to explore six general policy categories – ranging from foreign policy to the economy to natural resources. Within each, users can rate what matters most to them by dragging and dropping pre-set issues into a top-three list.

For instance, on the economy, users are asked to pick from: balancing the budget, homeownership, infrastructure, innovation, jobs, tax reform and trade. The RNC also includes a space for additional comments.

The unique move to open up the platform debate to the public follows some tensions in the party over how its presumptive presidential nominee might try to tweak the GOP’s guiding document of goals and principles. 

Trump earned historic support in the primaries in part by attracting independents and cross-over Democrats. He did not campaign as a doctrinaire conservative and, rather, has been famously fluid in his positions over the years – over the course of the 2016 race, Trump bucked traditional party stances on key issues ranging from trade to entitlements to taxes.

All this stirred speculation and concern from some corners that he may try to remake the platform in his image. Supporters of ex-candidate Ted Cruz even urged fellow conservatives to make sure to fight for their principles in the platform committee at the convention.

At the same time, Trump’s team apparently has telegraphed that they’re not planning major changes.

During meetings on Capitol Hill last month, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort reportedly told lawmakers they weren’t pursuing platform changes, according to a report at the time in BuzzFeed. Priebus also told the Associated Press he doesn’t think Trump “is interested in rewriting the platform of the Republican Party."

But Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King, a Cruz supporter and delegate, told FoxNews.com last month: “I have not yet seen a real effort to change the platform. But my point from the beginning is that we have to be prepared.”

Priebus, in a video on the new website, said the RNC launched the platform site so people can add their “voice to the process of establishing and reaffirming our party’s core principles during one of the most important elections of our lifetime.”

He made clear this will include an “unshakable commitment to life, individual liberty, a strong national defense and an economy that creates opportunities for every American.”