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Trump, Kasich Denounce 'Loyalty Oath' in Va. Primary

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Wednesday, 13 Jan 2016 08:30 AM Current | Bio | Archive

A “loyalty oath” required of voters in Virginia’s Republican presidential primary will cause long-term harm to the party’s efforts to broaden its base, leading backers of Donald Trump and John Kasich told me Monday.

But the fresh denunciations of the nine-word oath — “My signature below indicates that I am a Republican” — were especially newsworthy in that they came not only from different presidential camps but from very diverse factions within the state GOP.

Corey Stewart, stalwart conservative and state campaign chairman for Trump, and former Rep. Tom Davis, a much more moderate Republican and top adviser to Ohio Gov. Kasich, made their feelings known in separate interviews with me.

“It’s going to turn off and confuse potential Republican voters,” said Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, “And this will drive away a new base of voters that we [Republicans] very much need here in Virginia.”

Stewart, the top elected official in the second-largest county in the Old Dominion State, warned that a potential Republican primary voter in 2016 who has not voted Republican in the past “will refuse to sign the oath and then be disqualified from participating in our primary.”

He also charged that the goal of state party leaders who crafted the oath “is that the candidate who is ultimately successful is not Donald Trump.”

Stewart explained that he decided to accept Trump’s offer to chair his Virginia campaign after witnessing the fresh voters attracted to the developer-candidate at his rally in Prince William County last month.

“[Trump] and I met privately before the rally, he asked me to be his state chairman, and I asked him for time to think it over,” he said. “I expected his backers to be all old white guys. To my surprise, there were a lot of young people in the audience and quite a few minorities.”

Stewart felt as though “politics is undergoing a transformation and Donald Trump is drawing out new people who are historically not supporters of the Republican Party. They feel the country is broken and he can fix it.”

Two weeks after the rally, Stewart said, he accepted Trump’s offer.

With Virginia having no registration by party and voters free to request a ballot for whatever primary primary they wish, the state GOP committee under State Chairman John Whitbeck voted to add the oath as a requirement for voting at their last meeting in December. The State Board of Elections subsequently gave its OK to the Republican Party requiring the oath.

Backers of the oath point out that it is nothing new, that it was done in the 2000 primary between George W. Bush and John McCain.

Recalling that the 2000 oath was originally backed out of fear of Democrats crossing over to make mischief in the GOP contest, Stewart said “those fears were gone by the time of the primary, when Bush had pretty much secured the nomination.”

“And there is almost no chance of any such ‘mischief’ by Democrats crossing over in 2016,” Davis told us, “because they will be having a contested primary that same day between Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley.”

Kasich backer Davis said that Republicans have been “losing elections here in Virginia even when we’re united as a party, so we should be laying out the welcome mat and inviting people in.”

Long a supporter of scrapping more exclusive party conventions in favor of primaries for state offices as well as for the presidential nomination, Davis noted that his state’s party “establishment” disagrees.

“We barely got a primary [from the state committee] this year,” said the former congressman.

“Peggy Noonan got it right when she wrote in The Wall Street Journal we shouldn’t be making it harder for people to participate in our party,” Davis said. “We should be laying out the welcome mat.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
 

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A “loyalty oath” required of voters in Virginia’s Republican presidential primary will cause long-term harm to the party’s efforts to broaden its base, leading backers of Donald Trump and John Kasich told me Monday.
gop, kasich, 2016, trump
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2016-30-13
Wednesday, 13 Jan 2016 08:30 AM
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