More than a month after the specter of a contested Republican National Convention seemed to fizzle as Donald Trump became the last GOP candidate standing, a new effort is on to deny Trump the nomination.
The Washington Post reports that an insurgent but organized campaign of at least 30 delegates from 15 states who will attend the GOP convention in Cleveland this July is aiming to unseat the real estate mogul as the party’s presumptive nominee. These delegates were apparently pushed over the edge by Trump’s racist attacks against a Hispanic judge, flagging poll numbers against Hillary Clinton, and statements following the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, that appeared to signal an openness toward modest gun-control reforms. Their plan is to amend the Republican Party bylaws at the convention to include a “conscience rule” that would allow bound delegates awarded to Trump through his primary wins to cast ballots for their preferred candidate instead.
“This literally is an ‘Anybody but Trump’ movement,” Kendal Unruh, a Republican delegate from Colorado who is leading the campaign, told the Post. “Nobody has any idea who is going to step in and be the nominee, but we’re not worried about that. We’re just doing that job to make sure that he’s not the face of our party.”
It’s unclear how the party leadership feels about this move, but the Post finds a clue in a recent statement by House speaker/confused Trump supporter Paul Ryan:
“The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that’s contrary to their conscience,” Ryan said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” airing on Sunday.
Ryan has endorsed Trump. But his use of the word “conscience” could prove helpful to delegates organizing the anti-Trump campaign because they are pushing to pass a “conscience clause” that would unbind delegates and allow them to vote for whomever they want.
Message received, speaker.
What makes the delegates’ campaign different from, say, conservative pundit Bill Kristol’s #NeverTrump fight, is that the delegates themselves are the only actors empowered to amend party rules at the convention. According to the Post, none of those plotting to oust Trump—from Unruh to Regina Thomson, another Colorado Republican delegate, or the Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Washington, and other state regional coordinators they’ve recruited to their cause—have publicly disclosed who they’d back in his place, though the Post notes that “many involved in the delegate-driven movement supported Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas” in the primary.