Republican candidate Donald Trump heads into the Cleveland convention with #NeverTrump rebels still planning to carry out a last-ditch effort to rob him of the nomination on the convention floor.
Trump has less reason to worry now. The rebel insurgency has grown steadily weaker, marginalized by a court order, a lack of interest in their cause among most of the delegates, and their own disputed interpretation of party rules. Trump therefore rides to Cleveland as a man facing a battle that he should and most likely will win.
Colorado delegates and Ted Cruz supporters Kendal Unruh and Regina Thomson have partnered with others including Wisconsin-based Cruz supporter Eric O’Keefe and New Jersey Cruzer Steve Lonegan on a “Free the Delegates” movement to encourage Trump’s pledged delegates to vote their “conscience” on the first ballot — meaning, vote against Trump.
The Rebel leaders told Breitbart News their plan to interrupt each state delegation’s roll call vote. The rebels think they can convince the convention chairman Paul Ryan to count the votes individually rather than by state. They are basing their strategy on the musings of North Dakota delegate Curly Haugland, who for years has claimed that state delegations cannot be counted as “units.” Therefore, Haugland thinks, delegates don’t have to vote with the rest of their state delegations.
The Rebel Alliance worked the liberal media effectively to get attention for themselves, gaining the support of wayward Republicans like Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and failed Jeb Bush communications director Tim Miller. But their movement is dying out in practical legitimacy.
Breitbart News reported that the rebels’ floor plan can be effectively shut down by Rule 16 of the Republican Party, which binds pledged delegates to vote the results of their state primaries. So even if the rebels force Ryan to count all the votes individually, all the votes of delegates betraying their state results would be tossed out. How are the rebels dealing with these revelations?
A Breitbart News source listened in to the rebels’ Sunday night conference call laying out their strategy heading into Cleveland. The conference call was convened on a free Call.com phone line and featured Unruh and another rebel leader praising their own efforts to start a movement.
The call included speeches from a 22-year-old and a 17-year-old delegate. Our source reports that “both read from a script and once again kept praising one another and repeatedly used the word conscience.”
Our source reports that the leaders have “No direct discernible action plan or instructions on what to do.”
Also, the rebels’ unbinding mechanism might not actually exist in the rules at all.
Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Payne banged his gavel in Virginia and shut down a #NeverTrump lawsuit that tried to free delegates of their “pledged” status. After Payne’s ruling, Trump posted a campaign statement to his Facebook page showing that Rule 16 of the Republican Party — which binds delegates to their state primary results in accordance with state laws and also state party rules — has been fully upheld by the court. The Trump campaign wrote:
Specifically, the Court found that RNC Rule 16, which binds delegates based on their election results, “is in effect presently and that it controls the allocation and binding of delegates as to their voting at convention.” (p. 6) The Court held that the Plaintiff’s “expert testimony” from Erling ‘Curly’ Haugland was not credible, lacked “textual support,” (p.6) and that “delegates are bound by RNC Rule 16.” (p. 7)
Further, the Court found that by signing the “Declaration and Statement of Qualification,” RNC delegates are bound by RNC Rule 16(c)(2) (p. 10), and that this Declaration obligated Correll to vote in accordance with Republican Party rules and Virginia’s election results. (p. 46)
“This whole flap is caused by a small band of misfits who can win neither primaries or caucuses — in fact they can’t even read the rules correctly,” Trump supporter Roger Stone told Breitbart News.
“I liked Curly Haugland more when he was one of the Three Stooges,” Stone added.
Unruh is proposing a rule “affirmation” in the convention’s Rules Committee that would allow for “confidential voting by delegates” and would render delegates “not bound by state laws” due to a “conscience clause,” according to the Breitbart source on the rebel conference call.
But Unruh simply does not have enough votes to win a majority of the Rules Committee members, which is what it would take to pass her rule affirmation. Unruh and the rebels are claiming that they have the support of at least 28 Rules Committee members, which is a quarter of the Committee, and which is enough to bring her rules affirmation to a full floor vote on the convention floor on the first day in Cleveland.
There, it would need to get the votes of either the majority of all delegates — which in this case would be 1,237 — or two-thirds of all the delegates in accordance with rules of the House of Representatives, depending on one’s interpretation of the rule book.
Either way, the rebels have almost no practical chance of actually affecting the result in Cleveland.
And so the GOP Civil War will come to an end, at least for the time being, in Ohio.
As said General Robert E. Lee, “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we would grow too fond of it.”