Poised to move up their presidential convention in 2016, Republicans on Thursday advanced a package of changes to party rules for the upcoming election, including shortening the primary calendar and punishing states that hold their nominating contests before March.
The Republican National Committee intends to hold its convention in June or July of 2016 -- earlier than the party did in 2008 (September) and 2012 (August). Supporters argue that such a move would enable the eventual nominee to tap into campaign funds earmarked for the general election at an earlier date.
"As soon as we can tap the general election money, that will put us in a stronger position," A.J. Spiker, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, said on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown."
But moving the convention date up would require the RNC to end its nominating contests in April or May. At their winter meeting in Washington, D.C., RNC members on its Rules Committee cleared a proposal to conclude the party's 2016 primaries and caucuses 45 days before the convention instead of the current 35 days, which would slightly shorten the primary calendar.
The proposal also would penalize states that hold their contests before March 1 -- with only the early nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina allowed to hold their contests in February.
On Friday, all the RNC members gathered in Washington will vote on these proposals, and they require 75 percent support to pass. Those pushing the changes are optimistic about passage, but don't believe it's a sure thing.
Democrats say they haven't determined when they will hold their own convention, but they used the Republicans' proposed changes to knock the GOP.
"Republicans are struggling in national elections because they are out of touch, not because of their convention date or their primary calendar," said Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Lily Adams. "As long as Republicans continue to oppose and block common sense policies like immigration reform, increasing the minimum wage, and equal treatment for all Americans no matter who they love, Americans will continue to reject them."