2016 candidate Sen. Rand Paul warned GOP leaders that the party will split if the establishment launches a convention battle against the presidential candidate favored by the GOP’s grassroots.
“If the [GOP] establishment tries to block an outsider from winning the nomination, there’ll be war within the party and they’ll destroy the party,” Paul said Friday in an interview with Boston radio host Jeff Kuhner.
The GOP’s primary voters will pick their delegates via state competitions prior to the July national GOP convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Those delegates will formally choose the candidate at the convention, just four months before the November election, which is expected to be close.
“If they see their will thwarted through the primary process, I think you’re gonna find that there’ll be a war declared… It’ll be a war that the establishment has decided to declare on the grassroots and it’s gonna be a real problem,” Paul said.
Paul’s comments followed the Thursday revelation by the Washington Post that establishment GOP leaders met to in Washington D.C. on Monday to “prepare” for a brokered convention. The meeting, hosted by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, was held in a D.C. restaurant, and included allies and aides for establishment candidates, including Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio.
The Washington Post article did not explain how far the preparations have advanced — and if the preparations include a plan by the Republican leadership to rally support during the convention for an establishment rival against the grassroots’ favorites, such as Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson or Rand Paul.
Paul’s Friday comments matched a Friday morning statement from Carson. “If this was the beginning of a plan to subvert the will of the voters and replace it with the will of the political elite, I assure you Donald Trump will not be the only one leaving the party,” Carson said in his Friday statement.
“I pray that the report in the Post… was incorrect. If it is correct, every voter who is standing for change must know they are being betrayed. I won’t stand for it,” Carson said.
“The establishment needs to realize that Republicans across the country are unhappy, they’re unhappy with the Washington leaders who are not exercising the power of the purse,” Paul said. “They’re unhappy with Washington leaders not standing up to president [Barack] Obama… they’re sick and tired of all of it.”
Listen to the entire radio interview here.