RNC rejects ideological 'purity test' resolution to screen candidates

Top Republicans have tossed a plan that would have conditioned their funding for new candidates on a so-called ideological "purity test."

Party leaders gathered in Honolulu for the Republican National Committee's winter meeting on Friday ultimately nixed that resolution, which would have required prospective candidates to support eight of 10 outlined conservative principles in order to obtain campaign aid.

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The RNC instead opted for a version of the rule that simply "urges" party leaders to consider a candidate's conservative bona fides before offering financial help. RNC officials stressed Friday that resolution was in no way binding, unlike the more stringent "purity test" they rejected.

“The Republican National Committee urges its leadership and the leadership of all Republican organizations to carefully screen the record and statements of all candidates who profess to be Republicans,” reads the compromise resolution.

The decision to toss the ideological "purity test" culminates weeks of serious infighting over the political direction of the Republican Party.

Some saw the resolution, introduced by Indiana lawyer James Bopp last year, as a sign the GOP was hoping to purge itself of moderate members. Bopp's target seemed to be candidates like Republican Dede Scozzafava, who dropped out of the New York 23rd Congressional race last year, only days before voters went to the polls.

To some of the party's top partisans, Scozzafava was not conservative enough to deserve their support. Many instead tossed both their weight and their campaign dollars behind the more right-leaning Doug Hoffman -- who ultimately lost the race -- and they promised to do the same for other conservative insurgents fighting tough battles against establishment, moderate Republicans.

But the "purity test" never quite gained widespread acceptance in all Republican circles. Even RNC Chairman Micheal Steel expressed concern earlier this month that the committee had no place to "sit on high judgment of someone's credentials to be a candidate."

Consequently, Steele's camp seemed to win the day -- the resolution that was passed Friday functions as a guiding document for candidate selection, not a set of requirements that in any way precludes campaign dollars.

Still, Bopp told reporters he was satisfied with the compromise, later insinuating it might have some binding weight.

“For the first time, ideology is a factor," he said.