TWIN FALLS • Speaking against a backdrop of red velvet stage curtains at the College of Southern Idaho Fine Arts Center, Republican leaders reaffirmed support Friday for their party.
The afternoon pep rally offered a break from policy meetings at the Republican State Convention, taking place in Twin Falls through Saturday evening. On Friday morning, delegates broke into committees, voting on resolutions and platform changes to present to the full convention on Saturday.
At the general session, Republicans heard from outgoing Idaho Republican Party Chairman Norm Semanko, U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, first lady Lori Otter and Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Luna.
Convention Planning Committee Chairman Rusty Satterwhite spoke at the start of the meeting, welcoming the delegates to Twin Falls.
“The rest of the nation is going to look at Idaho to re-teach them what it means to be an American,” he said.
Risch got a standing ovation for his speech, which included a strong condemnation of out-of-control spending in Washington, D.C. At the end of the session, Otter and Luna gave a presentation defending Students Come First, the package of education reforms that is on the ballot for repeal this November.
“Don’t let the union convince them that this is a war on teachers,” Luna said to applause.
The session came after a morning of meetings for the Platform, Rules, Resolutions and Credentials Committees. The Platform Committee considered changes to the party platform and voted on a final draft to present on Saturday.
Among the proposed platform discussions:
• Eliminating the so-called loyalty oath, which asked Republican candidates to acknowledge in writing that they’ve read the party platform and either sign off on their agreement or explain their disagreement. The cut was suggested in part because the party rules repeat the same requirement.
• Putting a greater emphasis on adoption in the plank on the party’s opposition to abortion. “Our feeling was ... that the best argument against abortion is the argument for adoption,” said delegate Brad Christensen.
• Removing the phrase “naturally born” in the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
• Keeping the sound money plank, which supports backing up U.S. currency with gold or silver, and support for the repeal of the 17th Amendment, which allows citizens to elect their U.S. senators instead of leaving the decision to the state senate.
The Resolutions Committee also met on Friday to consider 16 resolutions. Among their actions:
• Approving resolutions in support of the Mountain Home Air Force Base and Students Come First, and abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Education.
• Voting down resolutions on Social Security Reform and opening up the recently closed Republican primary.
Friday’s votes aren’t the final say. On Saturday, all convention delegates vote on both the proposed platform and the approved resolutions.