When Republicans adopt their revised platform at the national convention Tuesday in Tampa, the party’s positions on issues such as abortion and immigration are likely to receive a lot of attention.
But several Maryland delegates say the focus needs to be on the economy — not social issues — and if the party wants to take back the White House.
“The biggest issues that we need to focus on are jobs and jobs,” said Del. Michael D. Smigiel (R-Dist 36) of Chesapeake city. “The more time you spend off of those issues, the less opportunity we’ll have to be successful.”
Economic issues such as achieving energy independence and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul with a more business-friendly plan should take precedent, said Del. William Frank (R-Dist. 42) of Lutherville.
“Social issues are very much on the back burner,” Frank said. “People in my district are mostly concerned about the economy.”
The abortion issue has received particular attention in the past week after U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri, who is running for a Senate seat, suggested women who are victims of “legitimate rape” tend not to get pregnant. Akin has stayed in the race, despite numerous calls from fellow Republicans that he step aside.
“Abortion [was] made a hot topic because someone made a very stupid, callous statement that was uninformed,” Smigiel said. “Those issues can’t be something that’s at the front of the platform.”
Members of both major parties clearly had varying positions on abortion, immigration and same-sex marriage, said Del. Kelly Schulz (R-Dist. 4A) of New Market.
What sets Republicans apart, Schulz argued, is a focus on the economic bottom line. Other issues were secondary, she said, but could be reflective of economic priorities.
By way of example, Schulz said she supported the hard line the Maryland GOP took against the Maryland Dream Act, which offers in-state college tuition to some undocumented immigrants, because of concerns that taxpayer dollars would be lost by offering financial support to illegal residents.
Those who fully supported the measure were turning a blind eye to the financial aspect of the law, Schulz said.
Frank also offered an inclusive view of the party’s social positions.
“[The platform] is pro-life, but that doesn’t mean if you’re not pro-life you can’t be a good Republican,” he said.
Frank hadn’t seen the final platform Monday, but said he expected it to be a “mainstream conservative document” that was “very much focused on getting people back to work.”