Photo, above: RNC pre-nominating convention meeting in Hollywood, Florida
By Thomas Madison
The RNC met in Hollywood, Florida this week to discuss the upcoming Cleveland nominating convention and the topic first and foremost on every attendee’s mind – Donald Trump.
On the heels of Trump’s crushing victory in the New York primary, many establishment Republicans are facing the seemingly inevitable prospect of Trump amassing the necessary 1,237 delegates and becoming the party’s nominee, and warming up to the idea of a President Trump.
Whooda’ ever thunk that the establishment GOP would warm up to a rebellious outsider like Donald Trump (shades of Ronald Reagan and 1980), but it appears to be happening, and it is a good thing. More than anything else, the Republican party needs unity. The GOP/RNC establishment should have been not only warming up to The Donald months ago as he stormed across the country, winning big in primary after primary, but should have been firmly behind him. Better late than never, I reckon.
While some in attendance claimed that it was Trump who should be making the overture to repair the wounded relationship between himself and the RNC leadership, especially Reince Priebus, apparently none found fault with the RNC itself and its own responsibility to reach out to the candidate who has been their dominant front runner from the jump. In fact, by all appearances over the past year, the RNC has given the impression of doing all it could to block a Trump nomination, like rule changes in Colorado and Wyoming, allowing voterless primaries, a transparent maneuver to deny Donald Trump delegates.
This sign of Republican party unity is very welcome. It is time to play nice and move on to the general election and defeat the Wicked Witch of Benghazi!
U.S. Republican officials began meeting on Wednesday, a day after Donald Trump’s crushing victory in a New York presidential nominating contest, and said he has been winning growing acceptance within their ranks – but they want to see the billionaire do more to mend fences with the party establishment.
Trump, the front-runner to become the Republican presidential candidate in November’s election, was the focus for the party’s spring meeting of 168 Republican National Committee (RNC) members in Hollywood, Florida. The three-day conclave at an oceanside resort will take stock of the race for the White House and prepare for a possible contested convention in July in Cleveland.
The New York real estate mogul’s win Tuesday in his home state over rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich was an important milestone for RNC members, who said it could put him on a pathway to acquire the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination outright without a contested convention.
“There are a fair number of RNC members who were discounting his chances of success when we met in January and now see that he’s building a substantial lead and may in fact get to 1,237 before we get to the convention,” said Steve Duprey, an RNC member from New Hampshire.
“The New York results were such an overwhelming win,” Duprey said. “It’s impressive. That’s what I’ve heard people talking about.”
RNC members said Trump could help improve the climate by taking steps to end the bad blood that has developed between him and the committee’s leadership, including RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
Trump has said that Cruz’s harvest of delegates in Colorado, where rank-and-file Republicans did not vote or caucus, showed that the party’s nominating process is “rigged.” He has wondered whether Priebus, who is popular with the RNC ranks, should continue in his job if Trump is the nominee.
“I think it’s time for that rhetoric to end,” said Jeff Essmann, chairman of the Montana Republican Party.
Bob Kapel, the RNC member representing Washington, D.C., noted that Trump had toned down his rhetoric in his New York victory speech on Tuesday night, and said he would like to see that continue. Kapel is a delegate for former candidate Marco Rubio and now backs Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Nevertheless, Kapel said of Trump and the Republicans: “We’re about winning the White House. Obviously, I have issues with him, but our nominee will be our nominee.”
South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore said Trump’s recent hiring of Rick Wiley, a Republican veteran who was former presidential candidate Scott Walker’s campaign manager, was a good sign.
“It’s a positive signal despite a lack of general outreach over the past year, and I think the Trump campaign, for all the bluster, recognizes that the RNC will be an integral partner if he is the nominee and it’ll be almost impossible to win the presidency without the RNC as a partner,” Moore said.
In a good sign for Trump, there appeared to be no significant move by the Republican leadership, at least at this meeting, to change the rules governing the convention. There has been talk of rewriting the rules in a way that could benefit an establishment-backed candidate like Kasich.
Trump, Cruz and Kasich all sent envoys to the meeting to explain their pathways to the nomination.
A source familiar with the situation said Wiley and other Trump representatives were meeting with Republican officials from the five Northeastern states that will hold primary elections next Tuesday: Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maryland.
Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, held a closed-door briefing with RNC members to explain how Cruz would be a better Republican nominee than Trump, saying the U.S. senator from Texas would energize the party’s grassroots supporters.
Roe dismissed talk that Cruz might now be in trouble. Cruz’s pathway to the nomination is now almost entirely dependent on forcing a contested convention and winning the nomination on the second or third ballot.
“There’s going to be ebbs and flows to this campaign,” Roe told reporters. “This campaign is going through (the last primary elections on June 7 and likely to the convention.”