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"He was on an ego trip that, in his view of himself, he alone has the wisdom, the insight and the talent to write the principles of the Republican Party," complained James Bopp, an Indiana delegate and a member with Matheson on the platform committee.
Bopp said during the committee meeting last week, after months of labor by staff and two days of work by the 112-member committee, that Matheson attempted to have the platform stricken and replaced with a one-page set of general principles he had written.
The committee voted down Matheson's effort.
"The platform had been approved, all the amendments had been considered and it was over," Bopp said. "It was too late."
But, as the committee was adjourning, Matheson's document resurfaced as a "minority report." Supporters wanted to introduce it on the floor of the convention as a replacement for the committee-endorsed platform.
Bopp, a conservative stalwart and attorney who successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Citizens United in the landmark campaign-financing case, said the Matheson document was troubling for many reasons, but mainly because it said nothing about the party's stand on "traditional marriage."
Had the minority report succeeded, it would have reversed the position the Republican Party has held on marriage since its first platform in 1856. That document denounced the "twin relics of barbarism" slavery and polygamy.
Bopp said the party endorsed helping the wives of slain Civil War soldiers to preserve the traditional family and opposed welfare programs of the 1960s for fear that the government would replace traditional breadwinners in the family.
The irony: Matheson is president of the Sutherland Institute, the conservative Utah-based think tank that has been one of the strongest proponents of the so-called "traditional family" and marriage between one man and one woman. The group has opposed many legislative efforts to give more rights to gays and lesbians, including the recognition of same-sex marriage.
Matheson also is former chief of staff to Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who already has been in the middle of controversy at the Cleveland convention for first trying to unbind the delegates during a Rules Committee fight as part of a stop-Donald Trump movement and then fighting with convention leaders by pushing for a roll-call vote at the gathering, again to try and stop the presumptive nominee.
Matheson, in an email to delegates, denied having anything to do with the minority-report movement to replace the committee-approved platform. He said his idea was to provide a succinct guide of Republican principles to go along with the platform. He said his proposal was hijacked by a pro-LGBT faction. Once he became aware of it, he denounced the effort and urged fellow delegates to vote against it.
Bopp is suspicious. He said Matheson's initial attempt was to strike the platform and replace it with his one-page set of principles sans the traditional-marriage endorsement.
Red, white and bloopers • Sometimes the purest of intentions can go awry as the GOP discovered this week. When the party set up for its Cleveland show, it divided state delegations into groups by using he patriotic designations of red, white and blue.
But when pictures were taken and plastered on social media of a sign above the Republican banners that said, with an arrow, "white elevators," the wrong message was sent particularly given Trump's rhetoric seen by many as ethnically divisive. So crews worked frantically to change those signs Monday.
A similar embarrassment happened in Utah during the legislative session last year.
The Utah Association of Realtors was staging its annual lunch at the Capitol Rotunda for legislators and invited guests and wanted patriotism to be the theme. Seats were sectioned off red, white and blue depending on where the lawmakers lived.
Some Capitol visitors were taken aback, though, when they noticed the sign "White Section."