Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster recently offered an olive branch to the state’s Ron Paul-supporting Republican delegates that promised to end the standoff that’s throwing into question whether they’ll be seated at the upcoming Republican National Convention.
The delegates and alternates — whose rights to be seated at the convention are the subject of a challenge filed by Maine Republicans Jan Martens Staples and Peter Cianchette — turned down the compromise offer.
Webster’s compromise — which he said he didn’t discuss with Mitt Romney’s campaign — would have required that the delegates sign a pledge to support Romney if Paul didn’t appear on the convention ballot. It also would have removed delegation chairman Brent Tweed’s right to serve as spokesman for the group and announce members’ votes. In exchange, Cianchette and Staples’ challenge would be withdrawn.
But Webster didn’t consult Staples or Cianchette in crafting his offer, and only Staples and Cianchette have the power to withdraw their challenge. And Staples said Thursday she wouldn’t have supported the compromise terms.
She said she would have opposed obligating Paul delegates to agree to supporting Romney if Paul didn’t appear on the convention ballot. “I would never support something like that because we’re not a state that binds our delegates” to a particular candidate, Staples said.
And she didn’t support the term that would remove Tweed from the spokesman’s role.
Webster said Republican National Committee officials are concerned about comments the delegation chairman made, published by the Maine Wire this spring, in which he said, “I put Mitt Romney in the same category as Obama. I’m going to be bold here. Obama winning — and I don’t like Obama — is better than Romney winning.”
But those statements aren’t central to the challenge, Staples said. “As far as I’m concerned, that is their First Amendment right,” she said. “I will defend people’s right to say what they want.”
Webster said Wednesday he expected his compromise offer to lead to a round of negotiations on the terms of an agreement.