Can Trump Be Stopped in Cleveland?
As the Republican National Convention draws closer, those of us not enamored of a Donald Trump candidacy wonder if the window of opportunity is closing to “dump Trump”. Now that Trump has secured the necessary delegate count to clinch the nomination, is there any hope of stopping him?
There is still plenty of noise in the news and on social media about efforts to unbind the delegates. Kendal Unruh, a Colorado delegate, is leading one group, and Steve Lonegan, former state director of the Cruz campaign in New Jersey, is leading another. In order for a motion to unbind delegates to be brought to the floor, a minority report would have to be issued by the RNC Rules Committee.
This committee is composed of 112 members; one man and one woman from every state and territory, including Washington, D. C. They meet together a few days before the official start of the RNC Convention. It takes only 28 votes from the committee to formally issue the report, but this move in itself is predicted to cause chaos among the delegates.
Polls since the primary season began have consistently shown Trump losing to Hillary Clinton, and the latest polls have her leading with double digits. Roughly one-third of Republican voters say Trump is unqualified for the presidency. Those leading the effort to unbind delegates see disaster ahead for the GOP should Trump be the candidate in November. Trump appears to be his own worst enemy, as he continues to make headlines with racist comments and to conspicuously demonstrate a general lack of knowledge on the inner workings of government and especially, foreign policy.
Party standard-bearer’s like Mitt Romney, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and John McCain have all decided to skip this year’s Republican Convention in Cleveland, which does not reflect favorably on Trump, and his so-called status as a unifier.
In what the anti-Trump movement sees as an affirmation of their desire to unbind the delegates, Speaker Paul Ryan voiced his opinion that all delegates should be free to vote their conscience. Curly Haugland of North Dakota, a member of the RNC Standing Rules Committee says the practice of binding delegates did not begin until the 1976 Convention, when pro-Ford delegates passed the rule in an effort to deny the challenger, Ronald Reagan, the nomination. He concludes that the delegates are in fact free to vote their choice even on the first ballot.
Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, told the Associated Press, “I think historically, not just this year, delegates are and should be able to vote the way they see fit”. The Weekly Standard reported this week that John McCain agrees saying, “I think it’s up to every delegate to make up their own minds”.
Of course, this exercise is just academic without someone waiting in the wings to assume the mantle for the GOP in November. It will be difficult to stage much of a coup without an alternate candidate. Names like Ted Cruz and John Kasich have been tossed around, and both of the former candidates have declined to endorse Donald Trump. Trump commented in a recent interview with the New York Times that unless an endorsement is forthcoming, neither of them will be invited to speak during the convention. It’s doubtful either of them are unduly upset by Trump’s ultimatum.
And what about Mitt Romney? As the former GOP presidential candidate, he has been very outspoken in his disdain for Trump. His news conference last March, in which he gave a scathing review of candidate Donald Trump, was seen by some as “too little too late”, while others disenchanted with Trump pushed for Mitt to step in and save the Republican Party.
Chances are, this is all just a pipe dream and we will end up with The Donald, but it is something to think about. Of all the possible contenders, Romney would be among the most likely. At 69, it’s doubtful he will seek the nomination again so for all intents and purposes, this would be his last chance. He is already a thoroughly vetted candidate and has excellent name recognition among voters. His 47.2% showing against President Obama’s 51.1% in 2012, proves he can handle the pace of a general election. He could indeed be another “greatest comeback” like Richard Nixon in 1968. In my opinion, he has less to lose by jumping in than someone like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, who have a considerable political future ahead of them.
At the very least, garnering votes for a minority report will force a discussion on the binding of delegates that could impact future elections. Also, ending the practice of open primaries in those states that currently conduct them could preclude the GOP from facing another bizarre election cycle like 2016 has proven to be. One thing is for certain, our answers are less than a month away!