State GOP mulls place of social issues on platform

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada Republicans meeting for a statewide convention in Las Vegas will decide this weekend whether to follow the lead of the state's largest county and strip hot-button social issues from the party platform.

A vote scheduled for Saturday comes a few weeks after the Clark County Republican Party voted to remove platform language defining marriage as between a man and a woman and statements opposing abortion.

"I thought Clark County was a step in the right direction, and I expect the state will follow suit," said Dan Schwartz, the state GOP's finance chair. "Many people in the party have realized that if we don't win, it doesn't matter what we think."

Many Republicans are reevaluating their strong stances on social issues as public opinion shifts in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The topics have become a political liability for the GOP, especially among younger voters, and don't fit with the overall Republican belief in personal liberty, according to Clark County GOP political director Nick Phillips.

It is unclear how a platform committee meeting all day Friday might address the issues while members review the 2012 platform statement and draw up the 2014 version. State chairman Michael McDonald said it's important to get "back to the basics of the Republican party" and prioritize economic issues.

"You have to be able to reason with people on their principles," Michael McDonald said. "I don't want people to ever go back on their principles, but I would hope that they realize this is the essence of compromise."

Some in the party, such as Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, panned efforts to scrub platforms of statements on social issues.

"The more liberal wing is trying to present the most neutered form of the platform possible," Hansen said. "They love it when we remove principles because they're unprincipled people."

He predicted that moves to broaden the party's appeal to socially liberal voters would backfire.

"The Republican Party tries to be the big tent party, and it's the liberal wing that insists we expand the base," Hansen said. "But they never show how they're going to attract voters to replace the base they're alienating."

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