The political establishment in America is terrified.
Donald Trump gets closer to securing the GOP nomination with each passing month and his rivals on both sides of the aisle are in disbelief.
Worse – or “better” if you enjoy entertainment – Trump has seemingly given up any attempt to be anything other than… well… than Donald Trump. He recently offered to pay the legal fees of a supporter who punched a protester, shouted almost maniacally about “Bernie guys” at a recent rally, and frankly seems to have gone punchdrunk with his newfound political clout.
That’s not necessarily a criticism. Heaven knows it’s funny and obviously there’s something highly satisfying about watching the establishment squirm.
All the same, no one – not even Trump’s staunchest supporters – really know what to expect from a Trump presidency. And virtually no Washington veterans want to find out. In fact, as we reported last week, a group of GOP and tech execs recently made stopping Trump the topic of the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum, a secretive affair held on Sea Island, Georgia.
And although everyone now jokes about just how unstoppable the Trump “juggernaut” has become, the establishment isn’t called “the establishment,” for nothing. Trump may have proven remarkably adept at whipping certain sectors of the electorate into a veritable frenzy, but he himself will tell you that he’s no politician. In fact, he prides himself on being “outside the political fold,” so to speak.
He may know quite a few tricks in the boardroom, but he doesn’t know all of the tricks of the political trade, and as Bloomberg outlines below, he could still have the nomination “stolen” from him, if the party pulls out all of the stops.
Below, find excerpts from “How To Steal A Nomination From Donald Trump”.
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The Hunt for Double Agents
On Saturday morning, while the candidates were scattered across Ohio and Florida, Illinois and Missouri, Cruz’s campaign was back in Iowa trying to wring another victory out of the state that gave him the first win of the primary season. After Iowa Republicans caucused on Feb. 1, diehards who stuck around their precinct got the chance to elect a local delegate to the county convention. It was those 1,681 precinct delegates who attended conventions in each of Iowa’s 99 counties this weekend, where they selected from among themselves the delegates to subsequent conventions at congressional-district and state levels. Cruz’s victory awarded him eight of the state’s 30 delegates—Trump and Rubio each got seven—but his campaign saw that as a beginning rather than an end.
In many states, primaries and caucuses are just the most public face-off in a multi-step process to select the individual delegates who will choose the party’s nominee. Only a small share of the 2,472 total convention delegates are free to pick the candidate of their choice, regardless of the election’s outcome, on the first ballot, while about three-quarters of them are gradually freed to do so on subsequent votes. That means there is a small pool of so-called unbound delegates who are pure free agents, but a much larger number who can be recruited throughout the spring as double agents—delegates who arrive in Cleveland pledged to Trump, all the while working in cahoots with one of his opponents and confessing their true allegiances once it is safe to do so.
Reports of the Party Boss’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
It has become fashionable to renounce the term “brokered convention” with the argument that, as strategist Stuart Stevens has said, “there aren’t any brokers.” There may no longer be the handful of national leaders able, as their early 20th Century predecessors did, to settle multi-ballot convention battles in smoke-filled hotel suites.
But delegate selection is still an internal party matter, and in state capitals the Republican establishment holds unusual sway. In those states with a Republican governor, the state party is typically a fiefdom of the executive controlled through a chosen chair.
During the nominating season, this often means a governor can freely stack an at-large slate with cronies, expecting a rubber-stamp from a subservient party committee. In Iowa, where Governor Terry Branstad in 2014 helped to reclaim the state party after an unexpected takeover from supporters of Ron Paul, Republican officials actively discourage their rank-and-file from even understanding how the state’s 18 at-large delegates will be selected.
Party bosses stand ready to gut some of Trump’s greatest primary-season successes. He won every one of South Carolina’s 50 delegates, by finishing first statewide and in each congressional district, but Trump is powerless to fill that slate with his own people. “Whoever is chosen for national delegate will have allegiance to the party establishment, and the party establishment is never going to be fond of Donald Trump,” says a South Carolina Republican insider.
The Art of the Deal
There is nothing in the RNC’s rules that prohibits delegates from cutting a deal for their votes, and lawyers say it is unlikely that federal anti-corruption laws would apply to convention horse-trading. (It is not clear that even explicitly selling one’s vote for cash would be illegal.)
Every delegate and alternate is already paying for individual travel costs to get to Cleveland. Most state parties tell delegates to expect to spend $3,000 out of pocket on airfare, hotel and meals, and for some it could prove an unexpected hardship. (Delegates are assigned hotels by state; some could end up paying for the La Quinta Inn, others stuck with a bill from the Ritz-Carlton.) As blogger Chris Ladd has noted, Trump’s slate in Illinois contains “a food service manager from a juvenile detention center, a daycare worker from a Christian School, an unemployed paralegal, a grocery store warehouse manager, one brave advocate for urban chicken farming, a dog breeder, and a guy who runs a bait shop.” Could some of them be tempted to flip their votes if a generous campaign, super-PAC, or individual donor picked up the costs of their week in Cleveland?
The Disqualifying Round
If the primary calendar ends without any candidate emerging as its presumptive nominee, all those responsibilities will remain with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. Thus far, Priebus has been docile toward Trump, who early on made being treated equitably by the national party a precondition for promising not to run as an independent in the general election. But if Trump doesn’t finish with a clear majority of delegates, Priebus will face immense pressure from party officials and donors to undermine him.
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And there’s much, more in the full article at Bloomberg including how the party could take the nomination at the convention in a series of procedural maneuvers.
But perhaps Ted Cruz put it best when he said the following in Maine: “If the Washington deal-makers try to steal the nomination from the people, I think it would be a disaster. It would cause a revolt.”
It sure would. And make no mistake, Trump would be more than happy to lead it.
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