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Who copied whom? GOP platform mirrors Arizona’s issues

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TAMPA, Fla. – There are some planks in the Republican Party platform that seem to lead right to Arizona.

Finish the border fence? It’s in the platform. Drop Department of Justice lawsuits against states like Arizona? That’s there, too.

So is language attacking Operation Fast and Furious, the botched “gun-walking” probe in Phoenix, and proposals that echo the positions of Arizona’s Republican lawmakers on immigration, same-sex marriage, abortion and voter ID, among others.

Kip Kempton, a delegate from Safford who served on the national platform committee, said the party platform is not parallel to Arizona positions but conceded that it is similar. He said it took 112 delegates about two days to draft and adopt the GOP platform at the convention.

“It is truly representative of the people,” Kempton said.

The process wasn’t always smooth, he said. There were disagreements over some amendments more than others, but he said he’s proud of what they accomplished.

“We come in with so many different experiences … and come out with a document that is of worth and represents the beliefs of people from many different backgrounds, educations and work experiences,” he said.

Among the planks in the platform are proposals calling for mandatory use of E-verify by employers, which Arizona does, and tougher penalties for people convicted of identity theft and human trafficking.

It says the federal government should deny funds to “sanctuary cities” that “violate federal law and endanger their own citizens” by letting illegal immigrants live within their borders, and to universities that give in-state tuition to undocumented students.

The GOP platform specifically condemns the “reckless actions” of Operation Fast and Furious, the gun-trafficking operation run from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ office in Phoenix. The program let some illegal gun-buyers go with the goal of tracing them to bigger dealers, but agents lost track of more than 2,000 guns, many of which are believed to have wound up in the hands of criminals on both sides of the border.

“We oppose the improper collection of firearms sales information in the four Southern border states, which was imposed without congressional authority,” the platform says.

Randy Pullen said it’s no accident that immigration language in the platform is similar to Arizona’s.

“The RNC (Republican National Committee) looked to me to give direction in this area,” said Pullen, who was chairman of the Arizona GOP from 2004 to 2007 before serving as RNC treasurer from 2009 to 2011.

He said the party probably became more open to immigration suggestions after President George W. Bush failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. Since then, people have learned more about the topic, Pullen said.

“People had the chance to understand what the issues were about,” he said.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Arizona’s laws have brought immigration issues to the forefront of the national conversation.

“That’s important to be able to talk about it, because something has to be done one of these years in Washington to get this thing resolved,” he said.

Voter ID, another hot topic in Arizona because of a recent court battle, also made its way on to the national platform. Republicans have been warning about the threat of voter fraud and have led the push for various voter ID laws across the country.

Arizona requires voters to both prove their citizenship when they register to vote, and provide identification when they show up at the polls. The ID part was recently upheld by a federal court, while the citizenship-proof requirement was rejected.

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said showing proof of citizenship and identification at the polls makes sense.

“It makes you wonder why the (Obama) administration and others are so concerned about … the simple fact of showing who you are when you vote,” Bennett said. “It’s been working for several cycles in Arizona.”

But Frank Camacho, a spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party, said Republicans have put their “extreme ideology” ahead of what’s good for the country. While Republicans hoped to rebrand themselves in Tampa as more moderate, to appeal to Latinos and swing voters, the platform shows it’s still the same party as before, he said.

“It really should come as no surprise since Romney has called … legislation that had its origin in Arizona model legislation,” Camacho said. “Now he’s got to live with it, and he’s got to campaign with it.”