RNC’s embrace of Trump platform signals shift in GOP as old guard fades in influence

When Trump emerged on the political scene in the 2016 Republican primary, he often feuded with the RNC and even accused the party of being biased against his candidacy.

Published: July 8, 2024 11:07pm

​Whereas Donald Trump as the 2016 Republican presidential nominee battled the GOP establishment over changing the party's direction and in 2020 faced substantive internal resistance during his reelection bid, he now appears as the 2024 nominee to have won control of a party apparatus willing to embrace his policy platform and earnestly support his efforts.

The Republican National Committee on Monday formally adopted Trump's 2024 party platform, which focused heavily on economy and border security issues. While both issues have been topline issues for Trump throughout his political career, the platform's inclusion of other provisions highlighted the extent to which his own agenda had inserted itself into the party.

That Trump would exert outsized influence over the RNC is hardly surprising given he essentially handpicked the party leadership. The RNC installed then-North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley as GOP chairman in March after Trump backed him for the post. It also tapped Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara to serve as co-chair.

When Trump emerged on the political scene in the 2016 Republican primary, he often feuded with the RNC and even accused the party of being biased against his candidacy.

In the crowded primary field, he fended off many conventional Republicans and traded barbs with his opponents over his challenges to Republican orthodoxy, namely on free trade and foreign policy.

After Trump claimed the nomination, the party apparatus reluctantly embraced the outsider, first-time candidate. At the time, the RNC was under the leadership of Reince Priebus, whom Trump subsequently named his chief of staff. He, however, only lasted half a year in the post.

In the 2020 election, by contrast, Trump stood as an incumbent and faced a handful of minor challengers. At that time, the RNC was under the leadership of Ronna McDaniel and did not hold any primary debates. The 2024 primary cycle saw McDaniel organize a number of debates, however, though Trump did not participate in any.

The GOP’s embrace of the Trump platform on Monday appears to signal that the policy fights between old guard Republicans and the America First contingent have been largely decided in favor of the latter camp. Included in the platform are multiple chapters addressing cost of living, foreign competition, cryptocurrency and educational opportunities, most of which appear aimed at younger voters and clash somewhat with traditionalist Republican attitudes.


Trump appointed three justices to the Supreme Court, all of whom voted to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion set in Roe v. Wade. He has stood by the decision, but called for leaving the issue of abortion bans to the states and expressed support for exceptions in the case of rape, incest and life of the mother. His own position throughout the 2024 primary attracted the ire of some pro-life advocates and his Republican rivals, many of whom favored national bans and fewer, if any, exceptions.

The new party platform does not call for a national ban, explicitly, but asserts that the 14th Amendment guarantees “no person can be denied Life or Liberty without Due Process, and that the States are, therefore, free to pass Laws protecting those Rights.” It also espouses opposition to late-term abortion and support for protecting access to in vitro fertilization (IVF).

While the platform does not call for a human life amendment and marks a change to prior party platforms in that respect, some pro-life advocates see the current position as following in the spirit of prior Republican efforts.

“This party has stood for life for a half century and for 40 years has called for either the passage of a human life amendment to the US Constitution or an acknowledgement that the unborn child has a right to life under the due process clause of the 14th amendment,” Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed said Monday on the "John Solomon Reports" podcast. “This platform, which was passed today in Milwaukee, continues that tradition by making it clear that the unborn child has an inalienable right to life that cannot be infringed that that life is protected under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, which by the way, was Ronald Reagan's position.”

“And as a result of that, states are free to protect unborn life. It also calls for a ban on late-term abortion,” he went on. “And that language clearly anticipates both state and federal action. And the 14th Amendment applies to both the federal government and the states.”

New York GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney said on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show: “I'm glad the platform's spelled this out onto the 14th Amendment for the freedom and the right to life, but also spelled out that we are against late-term abortion, and that the Democrats are the extremists on this position.

"They support late-term abortion. They support post-birth abortion. ... We know this really has got to be our message to everyone – to understand the Democrats are going to try to run on the abortion issue. And I think that being unified on this and having a message as we do, I think is going to be important going into the election this fall."

Foreign affairs

Among the most contentious of Trump’s positions in the 2016 primary was his rejection of the Bush-era “neoconservative” and interventionist foreign policy. Throughout his tenure, moreover, his efforts to make NATO allies contribute more to the alliance rankled many foreign policy hawks.

Through Trump’s tenure, the majority of NATO members did not meet their pledges to spend 2% of their GDP on defense. The former president, while in office, repeatedly pushed for NATO members to meet their spending targets and even suggested the U.S. might leave the alliance if they failed to do so. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in February of this year announced that a majority of the nation’s members were on track to meet the spending target.

“I said NATO has to pay its bills, and if it doesn’t pay its bills, we are not going to protect you. THE MONEY CAME POURING IN! Under other Presidents, NATO was BROKE,” Trump posted in March.

The platform doubled down on Trump’s prior efforts, vowing to restore “peace through strength” and to “strengthen Alliances by ensuring that our Allies must meet their obligations to invest in our Common Defense and by restoring Peace to Europe.”


Chapter five of the platform addresses proposals to protect American domestic industries and to revitalize manufacturing, in part through tariffs. It further commits the party to " rebalancing Trade, securing Strategic Independence, and revitalizing Manufacturing."

That section included a pledge that "Republicans will support baseline Tariffs on Foreign made goods, pass the Trump Reciprocal Trade Act, and respond to unfair Trading practices."

Trump's myriad tariff policies during his administration, as well as his subsequent proposals while out of office, have long attracted considerable scrutiny from free trade advocates, who formerly held considerable sway within the Republican Party.


Further showing Trump's direct influence over the party's positions are the inclusion of provisions addressing cryptocurrency.

The RNC platform opposes the creation of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and promises to "defend the right to mine Bitcoin, and ensure every American has the right to self-custody of their Digital Assets, and transact free from Government Surveillance and Control.

The Trump campaign in May announced that it would begin accepting donations in cryptocurrency and the former president the same month voiced opposition to a CBDC. Cryptocurrency moguls Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss last month became some of his most high-profile donors to use the format and donated $1 million each.

Cost of living

Chapter four addressed cost of living and prioritized housing affordability, saying that Republicans would "reduce mortgage rates by slashing Inflation, open limited portions of Federal Lands to allow for new home construction, promote homeownership through Tax Incentives and support for first-time buyers, and cut unnecessary Regulations that raise housing costs." Other provisions addressed the party's commitment to lowering the costs of higher education, healthcare, and everyday costs.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

Unlock unlimited access

  • No Ads Within Stories
  • No Autoplay Videos
  • VIP access to exclusive Just the News newsmaker events hosted by John Solomon and his team.
  • Support the investigative reporting and honest news presentation you've come to enjoy from Just the News.
  • Just the News Spotlight

    Support Just the News