In comments that could worsen tensions between the Romney campaign and the GOP's conservative base, a campaign adviser said party activists would have "very little" influence in a Romney White House.
Avik Roy, an outside adviser to the Romney campaign on health care issues, made the comments Sunday on Up w/ Chris Hayes during a discussion about the significance of the GOP's extreme party platform, which has been the subject of extensive news coverage this week.
Former RNC chair Michael Steele argued that the party's efforts to distance Romney from the platform—which includes a blanket opposition to abortion with no exceptions, as well as an endorsement of the gold standard—wouldn't go down well with the party rank-and-file.
In response, Roy tried to downplay the issue, prompting the following exchange with host Chris Hayes:
Roy: We have this conversation every four years about every platform. It's a sport. Every time there's a platform, people say, 'oh, well there's this in the platform, it's different from what the candidate thinks, different from what maybe the consensus of the country is.' We always talk about it, and then we forget about it, because at the end of the day it's about the candidates.Hayes: So you're basically saying the entire thing is a purely cynical exercise, to write things in paper to placate people?Roy: No, I think it's a statement of what activists in the party ... believe should be the core of what activist conservatism or activist liberalism [fights for]. But that is different from what a candidate who is appealing to the center of the country is going to try to do. Hayes: Those activists, should Mitt Romney be president, how much purchase do they have in the White House? That's the open question, right?Roy: Very little.Hayes: Do you hear that, Republican activists? You have very little purchase on a Mitt Romney presidency.
Roy, who writes about health policy for Forbes magazine, is not an official Romney campaign spokesman. But he has been used to brief reporters on Romney's policies. And he's exactly the kind of technocratic policy maven who, conservative activists fear, would have Romney's ear in the White House—to their detriment.
Of course, many liberals and moderates fear the opposite—that Romney would be swayed by the conservative movement that helped elect him. As Hayes told Roy in response: "I'm not sure if I believe that."