NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus downplayed the prospects of the battle for the GOP presidential nod going all the way party’s nominating convention in Cleveland, OH this summer.
Priebus told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity he thought odds of a contested convention were “very small.”
Partial transcript as follows:
Alright. I have a serious question because I think this is really, really important. You heard Mitt Romney’s speech yesterday. You all heard Mitt Romney’s speech yesterday?
I — I thought — everybody, I voted for Mitt Romney proudly and I think he would have been a great president. I was not happy with the speech yesterday. I don’t want to — I don’t want to drag you into that, but what he was suggesting is more important in terms of I think what this audience wants to hear from you.
And that is what he’s suggesting is that people in Ohio vote for Kasich and people in Florida vote for Marco, and then people around the states, they vote for this. In other words, there seems to be a strategy now to target one candidate and force a brokered convention, which I would argue probably is not good for you or the Republican Party, and I think the people ought to decide.
PRIEBUS: Well, the people are going to decide. I mean, that’s just the point. I mean, there is no way that the people are not going to decide. There’s no way that the delegates are not going to decide. Let me just — let — let me — well, let me — hang on a second. If — if you were — if you were at the convention, you would be bound on the first vote, and the majority of you would choose the nominee. And whoever the majority chooses is going to be the nominee of our party. So that is our pledge to you.
The other thing I’d just say is this. I think a lot of this is early talk. And we have over — just so you understand, there are 1,237 delegates needed to be the nominee of our party. There are 1,744 delegates left to be distributed. We are a long way to go. In fact, between now — everyone’s talking about Ohio and Florida, right? But between now and that day, there’s actually 14.5 percent of all the delegates are yet to be distributed.
We’ve got four states going this Saturday, another four or five going on Tuesday, Puerto Rico is going on Sunday. So I would just say what I’ve always said. I think the odds of a contested convention are very small.
HANNITY: You do?
PRIEBUS: And — of course. I’ve been saying that for a long time. But…
HANNITY: Could I give you a hypothetical?
HANNITY: And I’m not trying to put you on the spot.
PRIEBUS: No, you’re not. It’s just — it’s a fact…
HANNITY: Let’s say…
PRIEBUS: … you either have the delegates or you don’t.
HANNITY: Let’s say we go to the convention and rather than getting people all worked up here, let’s say candidate a is leading by a fairly significant amount, but he doesn’t get to 1237. Candidate A goes in, we have the first round of voting. He doesn’t get the 1237. Then it’s the second round of voting and the delegates are now freed up that they can vote anyway they want, horse trading behind the scenes.
Let’s say the candidate that had the most delegates but — but didn’t get the nomination on the first vote ends up losing the nomination? Don’t you think the people that are with the guy that got the most votes are going to be angry if their guy doesn’t win?
PRIEBUS: Well listen, the last time we have ever been through this — first of all, I would advise all of you and if you’re excited about this, you should all become delegates to the convention. The last time we have been through this, is if it did happen, which I again, I believe is highly unlikely and I’ve said that…
HANNITY: What are the odds it won’t happen?
PRIEBUS: I don’t know, 85 percent? Ninety percent? I mean, I just don’t…
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