Thoroughly defeated in meetings last week, the delegates hoping to upend Donald Trump’s nomination have one last chance as the full Republican National Convention kicks off on Monday.
Monday afternoon, after the convention officially begins, all the convention committees will reconvene for what is usually a pro forma vote to ratify their work from the week before. Then the reports from rules, platform, credentials and permanent organization will be up for votes to be adopted by a majority of delegates.
The official nomination vote will be Tuesday.
Any effort to deny Trump the nomination would face an uphill battle. But the party and Trump campaign are aiming to leave nothing to chance.
Leaders and staff from the Republican National Committee and Trump campaign have not taken their foot off the gas since the Rules Committee late Thursday night voted several times to preserve rules binding delegates to state primary results — all but assuring the nomination for Trump.
The whip teams have met daily to keep on top of any attempts by delegates to rebel on the floor.
“We’re confident that the Rules that were passed … will be approved tomorrow during the business session,” Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort told reporters Sunday evening. He said the “never Trump” movement was “more super PAC organizations that were funded by third parties who had nothing to do with the convention and were trying to disrupt the decision making of the Republican voters.”
The delegates frustrated with the process and with Trump as the nominee are attempting last-ditch efforts to keep their movement alive. The ultimate goal for the group, referred to as “unbinding” or “conscience” supporters, is to allow delegates to vote for whomever they choose, with the hope of preventing Trump from getting to the 1,237 number to clinch the nomination on the first ballot and opening the door for someone else — who is yet to be identified — to get the nomination.
RNC-Trump alliance put down Never Trump rebellion
“We will not stand for totalitarian party bosses in smoke-filled rooms cutting deals strangling the voice of the delegates and urging us to sing kumbaya,” said Kendal Unruh, a Colorado delegate on the Rules Committee and leader of Free the Delegates. “All this did was prove that Trump would muscle the delegates when given the chance. The grassroots have been betrayed.”
There are a few tactics in play. One is to try to prevent the floor from adopting the rules developed by the Rule Committee. The committee will reconvene Monday afternoon for what is usually a pro forma approval of their work the week before. The committee report will then be presented to the full floor, where a majority, 1,237, will need to approve it.
Delegates Unbound and Free the Delegates, two of the main groups supporting the effort, are still hoping to collect enough signatures to force the issue on the floor, either by convincing 28 members of the Rules Committee to support what’s called a minority report, or by getting a majority of seven states’ delegations to support debate on it. Both are long-shot efforts: In a recorded vote on the issue of binding at the Rules Committee, only 12 members of the 112 on the committee supported unbinding.
Delegates Unbound has been sending supporters text messages urging them to continue the fight. One sent Friday quoted Winston Churchill: “Never give in … in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor & good sense.”
Another tactic would be to convince a majority of delegates to reject the rules, which would force the committee to reopen debate and put the 2012 rules back in place as temporarily governing the convention. Delegates could also symbolically walk off the floor during the nomination roll call, though per the rules approved on Thursday that would not affect vote totals.
A separate effort led by former Ted Cruz delegate director Ken Cuccinelli has also been trying to get signatures for minority reports on a series of procedural reforms like rewarding states that close their primaries. He has been keeping his distance from the delegate unbinding groups, but many of the same people are active in both efforts.
Anti-Trump efforts quashed at Rules Committee
But the Trump campaign and RNC both remain confident that Trump will be nominated as planned, and that the rules as written by the committee will go into effect. Whips have been keeping up with events, and a Trump campaign text messaging system for delegates will also be used during convention week.
“Donald Trump is going to be the nominee and there is no chance the effort to unbind delegates will succeed,” said Steve Duprey, an RNC committeeman from New Hampshire and Rules Committee delegate. “They had a more than ample chance to make their case at the Rules Committee and were spectacularly unsuccessful.”
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