The Republican National Convention approved a strongly conservative platform – including what was described as its most pro-life stance ever – on an opening day marked by charges of plagiarism and a failed effort by delegates opposed to Donald Trump.
Voting July 17 in Cleveland, GOP delegates endorsed a platform that supports biblical/traditional marriage and the right to life of unborn children while opposing the Obama administration’s new transgender directive to public schools.
In incidents that demonstrated the continuing controversy of Trump’s campaign:
- Melania Trump, wife of the presumptive nominee, delivered a speech Monday night that contained passages with close similarities to Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The resulting accusations of plagiarism dominated the news from the convention’s first day.
- Anti-Trump delegates and others from several states attempted to gain a roll call on adoption of the convention rules, but the presiding officer ruled a voice vote favored passage of the rules and refused to acknowledge protesting delegates.
Trump’s candidacy has divided not only Republicans but Southern Baptists and other evangelicals. Some Southern Baptists and other evangelicals have supported Trump in the primaries or plan to vote for him in the general election as an alternative to presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton; others have declared their opposition will continue through the general election.
Using the hashtag #NeverTrump on Twitter, objectors to the billionaire businessman’s candidacy have made no-vote promises based on his inconsistent and even harsh policy positions on such issues as abortion, religious liberty and immigration; insult-laden rhetoric; and a lifestyle marked by adultery.
The GOP platform approved Monday, however, appeared to be as conservative on social issues as ever, particularly on their primary concern, some pro-life leaders said.
“The Republican platform has always been strong when it comes to protecting unborn children, their mothers, and the conscience rights of pro-life Americans. The platform ratified today takes that stand from good to great,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, in written comments.
The March for Life described it as “the most detailed pro-life platform ever.”
“The delegates deserve a lot of credit for creating this document which, in great detail, explains what the pro-life movement is for and just how radical the pro-abortion position is,” said Tom McClusky, March for Life’s vice president for government affairs.
Among its planks, the Republican platform calls for these positions on abortion and other issues:
- Support of a human life amendment to the Constitution to protect unborn children.
- Opposition to government funds for Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform or promote abortion.
- Backing of a federal ban on abortion based on the sex or disability of an unborn baby.
- Reversal of the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
- Protection of the freedom of religion and conscience of individuals, institutions and businesses, including those that limit their services to a traditional understanding of marriage.
- Repeal of the Johnson Amendment, the 1954 law that bars churches and other tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates.
- Support for a wall on the entire Mexican-American border to stop illegal immigration.
- Restoration of advocating for religious liberty to “a central place” in United States foreign diplomacy.
- Full enforcement of the law against human trafficking.
The Trump campaign issued a written response July 19 to Melania Trump’s speech but did not address the controversy regarding the passages that were similar to those in Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech. “In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” said Jason Miller, senior communications adviser. Other Trump campaign operatives denied there was any plagiarism.
Speakers during Monday night’s convention program, which focused on America’s safety, included:
- Two of the security contractors who sought to defend the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, during a terrorist attack in 2012.
- Pat Smith, the mother of a U.S. Foreign Service officer killed in Benghazi.
- Three Americans who lost family members in deaths caused by the actions of illegal immigrants.
- Rudy Giuliani, known for his law-and-order approach as New York City mayor.