All op-eds are the opinion of the authors
by Bob Bennett
After Ted Cruz thrashed him in Wisconsin, Trump refused to gracefully congratulate Cruz on winning – instead releasing a bitter statement through Hope Hicks, his press secretary. The statement attacks Cruz, but actually portrays Trump as a whining sore loser. It labeled Cruz: “a Trojan horse, being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump.”
On April 6th, the day after the Wisconsin primary, Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson explained to Fox’s Martha MacCallum how “party bosses” intended to steal the nomination from Trump. As usual with the Trump campaign, Pierson threw the truth far under the bus, with bizarre assertions like, “The Bush people are now running Senator Cruz’s campaign.” This must be news to Jeff Roe, who’s actually running it.
She spun a scenario that, dreamlike, drifted in and out of reality:
“If it does go to a contested convention,” she said, “you will see a lot of the rule-changing again because that is how the establishment blocks the people’s choice;… If Senator Cruz continues to go down this path, and then neither Cruz nor Trump becomes the nominee.”
One guesses that Cruz should get off that “path” by dropping out and allowing Donald Trump to sweep into the nomination?
There could be rules changes proposed by the the Rules Committee, but any changes would have to be voted on by the delegates. Since most will be Trump or Cruz supporters, a rule change eliminating both candidates is a fantasy.
Cruz is behind more than 200 delegates, but there are signs that voters are wearying of Trump’s outbursts, foreign-policy blunders and woman-unfriendly remarks. So it’s not impossible for Cruz to draw much closer to Trump’s delegate number.
“In terms of the 1237 number, that’s what you have to get in order to lock in the nomination. You agree with that?” asked Martha. “Absolutely,” came the answer.
“So, if he [Trump] falls forty short, say anywhere in that neighborhood, you guys aren’t going to argue that he should be given the nomination?”
“If he falls short…the voters are going to have their say with the RNC. When you have someone who has the most delegates, and clearly has the most votes, that should also be taken into consideration and those rules should be added, as well.”
This is a deliberate distortion, repeatedly promulgated by the Trump camp. Party Rules dictate that if no candidate gets a majority of delegates on the first ballot, then more ballots will be voted, until someone does get a majority. See Rules 40 (d) and (e) at the link. On each ballot a higher percentage of delegates are unbound, according to each state’s rules.
This rule, essentially in its current form, has guided GOP conventions since the party’s founding in 1856. Four years later, Abraham Lincoln had 22% of the delegates, on the first ballot – far less than Seward’s 37%. Honest Abe used all kinds of tactics, including counterfeit seat tickets, plus lobbying of delegates, to sideline Seward’s delegates and increase his own total. On the third ballot, Lincoln had a majority of delegates, and was nominated.
It must be kept in mind that the primaries are a polling of “presidential preference”; delegates at the convention make the final decision based on the best candidate for the party and to win at the general election.
Surely, GOP honchos would like to see the oft-embarrassing Mr. Trump defeated in his quest for the nomination, because he has repeatedly issued reckless outbursts like: “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them,” which he blurted at his rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.”—TalkingPointsMemo.com
Then there was Trump’s assurance, at a televised debate, that he had no shortcomings, below the belt.
Another irresponsible blurt was his gratuitous assertion, during a Chris Matthews interview, that (if abortion were made illegal) women should receive “some form of punishment” for having the procedure. Though he walked the blunder back later, it is on video for convenient use by Democrats seeking to defeat him – or defeat other GOP candidates. Hillary Clinton, for example, later told CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
“Now maybe they [Republicans] aren’t quite as open about it as Donald Trump was earlier today, but they all have the same position.” Hillary may be evil, but she’s not stupid.
After a host of such GOP-stigmatizing blunders, the Grand Ole Party is frantic to have someone other than Trump at the top of their ticket in November. Though Ted Cruz is also unloved by the Establishment, the GOP knows he’s at least going to stay on the political playing field, and he’s not likely to spew nonsense like Trump’s daft suggestion at two interviews that he might allow Japan and South Korea to have nuclear weapons, so the U.S. could bow out of their defense.
Cruz is the most likely to defeat the Donald, either during the primary or at the convention, should Trump not achieve a majority of delegates on the first ballot. Moreover, Cruz does have the right to try to beat Trump in the primaries, whatever the latter may think.
Trump camp pushes false narrative, inflaming supporters
It’s disturbing that Trump’s been pushing the idea that if he doesn’t get the nomination there could be riots. He knows perfectly well he’s supposed to have a majority of delegates. So what was good enough for Lincoln isn’t good enough for the great Trump?
The New York Times wrote:
“Even if Mr. Trump wins a state, the delegates who are supposed to vote for him at the national convention might privately support one of his opponents, and if no candidate clinches the nomination after the convention’s first ballot, these delegates are usually freed from the requirement that they represent the preference of the voters back home. The campaign of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has been working in many states to get his supporters named as delegates, even if they must vote for Mr. Trump on the first ballot.”
This is being presented by the Trump camp as some kind of plot against him; in the next sentence it says:
“Mr. Trump and his backers have been aggressive in criticizing the process, fanning fears that his delegates will be ‘stolen’ at the convention, as they have put it.”
This is a deliberate and dangerous lie, by the Trump camp. In truth, this process has been in place for 160 years, as noted above.
In addition, Trump surrogate Roger Stone has threatened that he would make public the hotel room numbers of delegates who switched their votes against Mr. Trump, so that his supporters can “discuss” the issue with them. He’s also arranging to “bring thousands of Trump partisans to Cleveland,” he says on his “Stop the Steal” website. “We must express our rage over the hijacking of democracy,” the page shrieks.
Stone, who made a show of quitting but obviously still serves Trump, proudly proclaims his rep as trickster and doer of dirty deeds here.
On the site, he solicits contributions to raise $150,000 for buses, to bring in protestors. The page is peppered with inflammatory words and phrases – the name “Big Steal” itself, “ignore the will of the voters,” “if Donald Trump is robbed,” “steal the nomination from Trump,” “betray Trump,” “stooges” and “bribery.”
These are words meant to kindle anger in the readers, who could easily skim over Stone’s assertion on the site that demonstrations will be non-violent. At the same time, he’s spreading the absurd smear that Cruz won all his states through voter fraud.
Nonexistent group game hampers Trump
He whines that Cruz gained ten more delegates from Louisiana than Trump, who had won the state by “almost 4%.” Trump, typically, issued a Twitter threat to sue Louisiana. The truth is, there were five uncommitted delegates and five awarded to Rubio, who later dropped out of the race. The five uncommitted are said to be supporting Cruz, likely the result of his superior ground game lobbying individual delegates, as were five committee slots his team secured for supporters.
Under state law, Rubio’s delegates are now unbound to any candidate. But recall that, immediately after Rubio suspended his campaign, his team proclaimed that Rubio’s supporters should now move to Cruz.
Jim Geraghty writes in National Review that similar scenarios played out in Tennessee and Georgia, where Trump delegates become free agents after two ballots, at the convention. He adds that:
“The Cruz camp’s effort is perfectly within the rules, and Trump’s team could mount their own counter-operation if they wanted.
Behind Trump campaign allegations of “stealing” delegates, is the simple fact that Trump’s campaign has been run by Corey Lewandowski, of whom some might say, he’s more qualified as a bouncer than the highly complex task of running a presidential campaign.
Sam Nunberg, a onetime member of the campaign until he was bounced for offensive tweets, in 2007, told Andrew Wilkow on his sat-radio show that he and Roger Stone started planning Trump’s campaign in 2013. He sought out Jeff Roe to manage, Nunberg said, because Roe is the best in the business. Unfortunately, he was already committed to Ted Cruz.
Instead of seeking out another qualified manager, the campaign left Trump in the hands of Lewandowski until just a week ago, when Paul Manafort, an experienced delegate wrangler, was made convention manager. That’s why the Cruz campaign knew enough to wrangle delegates in every state, and the Trump campaign didn’t.
However, that may still not be enough, because as Amanda Carpenter (one of the women debased in the Enquirer piece) pointed out, you need a a state field operation too, and Trump never set up one.
This is why Trump has missed opportunities to snap up delegates – not because they were “stolen” from him. It’s not “stealing” the nomination to have multiple ballots at the convention, if no one has a majority on the first ballot; it’s not stealing to persuade delegates to switch on successive ballots. These are perfectly legitimate strategies, and Manafort will surely use them for Trump.
In 1860, Lincoln got a majority on the third ballot, therefore, some Seward delegates were persuaded to switch. Are we now saying Lincoln stole the nomination from Seward? This is what Trump/Stone is selling; only a fool would buy it.
These delegate tactics have been known and accepted for a long time. Whipping up your supporters with lies, threatening delegates and busing in enraged protestors is a tactic of the Left, or more properly a tactic of fascism—that’s not accepted.