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GOP punts platform debate

California Republicans gathered for their state convention in Indian Wells punted this morning the debate over competing versions of the party’s official platform, its statement of core values.

The delegates were poised for what could have been a repeat of the party’s oft-repeated debates between the moderate and conservative wings of the party. It would also have unfolded the day after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged the party to move toward the middle or risk losing the growing number of independent voters.

Schwarzenegger submitted a letter this week asking the party to adopt a short and succinct platform that sticks to lower taxes, limited government and a strong national defense. The letter was also signed by Republican Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines of Clovis and Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman of Irvine.

Rather than hash out a settlement this weekend, a committee of the party opted to send the matter back to a panel assigned to craft a single platform for consideration at the Republican’s February convention.

“We want to avoid a big fight in the newspaper where people say nasty things about each other,” said Michael Schroeder, former chairman of the party and one of its outspoken conservative voices during a packed meeting of the party’s platform committee.

But some delegates wanted to tackle the issue today, including Jill Buck, a former Republican Assembly candidate from Pleasanton.

“I don’t believe that we should be so afraid of conflict that we don’t have an open debate,” Buck argued. She said some of her colleagues were trying to subvert open debate and the platforms thus far lack broad input from women and others with more diverse points of view.

This doesn’t mean that debate won’t happen on the platform this weekend. During Sunday’s general floor session, a delegate could bring it up.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen