Dispatches from Cleveland: Monday’s Rules Battle

Dispatches from Cleveland: Monday’s Rules Battle

By Ken Reid.

Mr. Reid is reporting from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where he is participating as an alternate delegate representing Virginia. He is a former member of the Leesburg Town Council and Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. The Tribune is inviting similar coverage from a participant at the Democratic National Convention that will follow.

It’s 4:07 p.m. Monday, and we are awaiting a vote on the rules.  Virginia and at least six other states are asking for a roll call on the rules for the convention.  It should be noted that of our 49 voting delegates, probably only 8 or 9 were core Trump supporters; the rest backed Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or other candidates.  So, Virginia’s delegation, like those from Colorado, Texas and states Trump did not win, does not include a majority of core Trump supporters.

There was considerable rumor mongering last night about the intent of this, which was led by Virginia delegation chairman, former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and RNC Rules Committee members Morton Blackwell and Anne Gentry.  None supported Trump in the primary.  We thought this was an attempt to undo what the RNC Rules Committee voted on last Thursday, which was to bind the delegates to vote on the first ballot for the winner of their state primaries.

At a breakfast this morning, Cucinelli, Blackwell and Gentry said the effort to have a roll call vote on the rules is not to unbind the delegates so other names for president can be placed in nomination.  Rather, they told us they want the delegates, not the RNC top brass, to determine how future conventions will operate.

I asked Cuccinelli what would happen if the Convention had the opportunity to vote and rejected the rules adopted last week.  He said the 2012 rules for that convention would be in effect, and that would still bind the delegates and Trump would not be denied the nomination.

What he and other supporters of this move say is the real goal is to (1) allow a rules change, which was defeated in the Rules Committee, to give a bonus number of delegates to states that hold Republican-only caucuses and primaries; (2) penalize any state that does not close its primary by not allowing it to hold an early primary; and (3) not allow the RNC to set rules between conventions.

My concern was if the convention rejects the rules, then it requires the Rules Committee to meet again here in Cleveland and adopt new rules, and that might open up the issue of unbinding the delegates.  Concern was raised that if there is a strong roll call vote to allow the rules to be reviewed again, it could be a test vote to show that delegates might be open to another presidential candidate.  It also delays the convention, possibly requiring additional sessions tomorrow during the day.

It’s 4:59 pm and an attempt to get a roll call vote on the rules has failed. Nine state delegations submitted petitions asking for a roll  call vote, two more than needed, but the temporary chairman of the convention announced that three states withdrew.  So the rules as approved by the RNC Rules Committee Thursday were adopted on voice vote despite much booing and shouts of “no”.

The first convention day session has just concluded.