Republican Party leaders, donors and important delegates will flock to Cleveland this week for a series of meetings and negotiations that will determine whether or not Donald Trump can be stopped.
The anti-Trump forces will make their last stand — fighting to alter party rules that would free up delegates bound to Trump and potentially block the presumptive presidential nominee from actually winning the nomination.
The long-shot challenge will also be the first major test for the somewhat tenuous alliance for Trump and Republican Party loyalists led by chairman Reince Priebus.
GOP leaders will also hash out the party’s platform. This year has seen Trump go against party orthodoxy on trade and abortion — a key question is how far he wants to go to change the platform, and how much of a fight Republican stalwarts will put up to maintain hard lines on certain social issues.1. Can never-Trump forces free the delegates?
This will likely be the final chance for Trump opponents to stop the New York billionaire. They will try to convince a majority of the Rules Committee to adopt a proposal to allow delegates to vote their “conscience” and break from primary results supporting Trump.Colorado delegate Kendal Unruh has led the effort to break delegates free from election results supporting Trump and supporters say they have raised millions of dollars to hire a team of delegate “whips” who will fan out across the convention floor and ensure they have enough delegates supporting them.
This week, Unruh and her allies will need the support of 57 members of the convention Rules Committee to vote for her version of the rules to make it the recommendation on the floor, or 28 to get what’s called a minority report in front of the full convention.
Either plan would then need to be adopted next week by the full convention.
“I don’t think people should be scared of the notion that it’s going to be chaos. It’s not going to be chaos any more than the 1860 convention that nominated Lincoln,” anti-Trump conservative Bill Kristol said on a conference call with Unruh’s group last week. “It’s unusual, but this is an unusual year with unusual circumstances.”Unruh and her team hosted one final conference call Sunday night. Perhaps as a reflection of the grass-roots nature of this latest effort, the call devolved into a cacophony of unmuted lines after about a half hour, as Unruh ended the formal portion of the call but activists and delegates aired out their many questions.
Unruh said she expects a vote Friday on their proposal to release the delegates, the group is also pushing for voting in a vice presidential pick separate from Trump’s — part of a broader package they’re coining the “Conscience Agenda.”
Dane Waters, co-founder of Delegates Unbound, an affiliated group organizing a whip operation for the convention, dismissed skeptics in the Republican National Committee, Trump campaign and the press.
“You never disclose the size of your army before you go into battle,” Waters said. “I have absolutely no doubt in my mind there are enough delegates supporting this that Donald Trump will not be the nominee on the first ballot.”The group was bullish heading into the week’s events. Jace Laquerre, a 17-year-old Republican delegate from Vermont, said on the call that the Trump campaign tried to unseat him through a credentials challenge but failed because they missed the party deadline.
“In typical Trump campaign fashion, they were disorganized, they filed it a day late,” Laquerre said.2. Can the party establishment maintain order?
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