The Republican National Committee and campaign of Donald Trump are reportedly getting “hard-nosed” in their efforts to head off an anti-Trump revolt at the party’s convention next month.
According to the New York Times, the RNC is packing key positions with “loyal party stalwarts” to make sure rogue delegates don’t try to disrupt the Cleveland event.
The anti-Trump delegates appeared to get a boost last week when both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said delegates should have free reign to follow their consciences when voting at the convention rather than remain bound to a candidate.
Peter Feaman, who will serve on the convention rules committee, called ditch Trump talk “a lot of sound and fury.”
“We’re going to ride the Trump bandwagon into 1600 Penn Avenue, or into oblivion,” he tells the Times. “One or the other.”
Freeing up the delegates has been promoted for years by Curly Haugland, a Republican National Committee official from North Dakota, the Times reports — and recently RNC officials began sending out emails trying to discredit him.
“It’s a total smear campaign,” Haugland tells the Times.
According to the Times, the RNC and Trump campaign “are employing hard-nosed tactics” that include warning delegates that trying to undermine Trump violates party rules, and even “threatening to deny speaking slots to Republicans they deem disloyal for not backing him.”
Also, about a dozen operatives have been hired to help keep rogue delegates in line, the Times reports, even as RNC head Reince Priebus is getting associates to reach out to first-time delegates “to get a feel for whether they might be problematic.”
Also, the Times reports, lawyers for the RNC are advising state party leaders how to beat back the anti-Trump efforts.
The Times reports the hard-line approach would seem to doom any chance of a reconciliation with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who will have more than 500 delegates at the convention — and that to deny him a chance to speak would be a “rare rebuke.”