The leaders of Minnesota’s Republican National Convention delegation are publicly criticizing their own party’s nominee.
The Ron Paul-affiliated Minnesota Liberty Network issued a press release Monday, bashing Romney for some complimentary statements he made over the weekend about the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act.
“Romney’s statement that he intends to replace ObamaCare with his own plan validates the Liberty Republican position that the general election is simply a contest of ‘my big government is better than your big government,’” said Marianne Stebbins, chair of Minnesota delegation to the RNC. “The Liberty Republican position is a Republican president should be taking about how we move away from government plans to a free-market health care system, not cherry picking bits and pieces of one big government plan to create another big government plan.”
Romney said on Meet the Press that he would not get “rid of all of health care reform,” including protections for those with pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents plans after college. His campaign later said he supported a place in which, “the marketplace will make available plans that include coverage for what there is demand for. He was not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer those particular features”
Stebbins, and other Paul supporters who made up the bulk of Minnesota’s Republican delegates, are still smarting from convention maneuvers that sidelined them and prevented them from doing more than casting token votes for Paul. While Paul finished second in Minnesota's February caucuses, behind Rick Santorum, his supporters his supporters captured the majority of the seats in the delegation.
It has been an open question whether the Paul supporters – many of whom were first-time activists – would pivot and throw the same energy into Republican cause once their candidate was out of the race. Republican delegate Craig Westover, who identified himself in the press release as a “Ron Paul delegate,” was less interested in the Republican-Democratic matchup than the battle for the Republican Party’s soul.
“Romney’s position confirms what Liberty Republicans have been saying for some time: The most significant debate in American politics today is not between the Democrat and Republican candidates for President; the most significant debate in American politics today is taking place within the Republican Party,” he said in the press release.
About an hour after Stebbins and Westover put out their complaint, Minnesota Republican Party chair Pat Shortridge tweeted: “Rather than berate GOP cands you don't like, why not spend time promoting GOP cands you do? They need the help. MNGOP site has a list.”
State GOP spokeswoman Heather Rubash said by email that Shortridge’s tweet “was not directed at this specifically. It was an exhortation for all Republicans to work together on behalf of our common goals.”