Exclusive: Reince Priebus to RNC: Leave Convention Rules Alone Next Week in Hollywood, Let Delegates Themselves Handle in Cleveland

Reince Priebus Speaks Justin Sullivan Getty
Justin Sullivan/Getty

The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, has warned off members of the RNC from making any changes to the Republican National Convention rules at next week’s spring meeting of the 168-member organization, Breitbart News has learned.

“Reince believes strongly that the rules of the convention should be set by the delegates who have been elected by the grassroots activists of Republican voters,” Sean Spicer, the RNC’s chief spokesman, said in an email late Saturday. “He is asking the RNC members to leave it up to them.”

Normally, at the spring meeting before a presidential nominating convention, the RNC members would provide a series of recommendations with regard to convention rules—the bylaws that will govern the GOP convention in Cleveland in July this year. But in this case, Priebus has texted a group of RNC members to warn them against doing that so as to keep the RNC’s neutrality walking into Cleveland—and prevent the appearance of making it look like the party bosses are swaying the nomination to any one particular candidate.

The move by Priebus is sure to allay concerns of the three remaining campaigns—Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich—that the party leaders might game the rules at the last moment, and puts the responsibility for writing the convention rules squarely on the Rules Committee for the convention. That committee has yet to be completely decided, but states around the country are in the process of electing members to it from delegate slates they are also electing.

The RNC is holding its annual meeting in Hollywood, Florida, next Wednesday through Saturday.

This development, that Priebus’ team is confirming publicly there won’t be rules changes at the spring meeting, comes in the wake of a conference call last week in which RNC members agreed they wouldn’t change the rules.

“Members agreed in a recent conference call that changing the rules now with the looming possibility of a contested convention would give the impression that they were trying to rig the process, said Peter Feaman, an RNC committeeman from Florida and a member of the party’s rules committee,” the Washington Times’ S.A. Miller wrote last week.

The question now is whether the delegates themselves will make any changes from last convention’s rules or not, but technically speaking, walking into the convention there are no rules that govern the convention until the Rules Committee meets and writes those rules. There’s a possibility there could be gamesmanship there, depending who gets on that committee, and there’s a possibility of gamesmanship from the so-called Credentials Committee—which agrees to seat the delegates from around the country. If it so desires, the Credentials Committee could technically not seat certain delegations—thereby lowering the vote threshold necessary to win.

By many calculations, the likelihood of entering a contested convention in Cleveland in July has shot up in recent weeks as Cruz has won critical battles while Trump has slipped up after a very strong showing in the beginning of the race. Trump looks to get back on track on Tuesday in his home state of New York, where he’s currently polling above 50 percent statewide in most public polling.

Cruz has won critical delegate battles in places like Wyoming this weekend, Colorado the past couple weeks, and electoral battles in Wisconsin and Utah. Trump’s last win was in Arizona, which held its primary nearly a month ago on March 22. While Trump seems to be coming to the end of a rough few weeks since his big night on March 15, when he won everywhere but Kasich’s home state of Ohio, he at least benefits from the fact that there have only been a handful of contests since he entered this rough campaign stretch. After New York, where Trump is expected to dominate, the race heads to Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware a week later. Trump is expected to do well in each of those states.


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