WASHINGTON — Anti-Trump delegates are preparing a rules change proposal that would chart a path for delegates to choose their own vice presidential nominee at the Republican National Convention, instead of voting for Donald Trump’s choice.
A draft proposal obtained by BuzzFeed News outlines several changes to Rule 40 that would make it easier for delegates to reject whomever Trump picks as his running mate and present their own alternative. BuzzFeed News has learned that it will be presented at the Rules Committee meeting next week in Cleveland ahead of the convention.
Already, delegates are technically not bound to vote for the nominee's choice for vice president. But in the past, vice presidential picks have largely been automatically ratified by the convention after being chosen by the nominee.
This year is different, as a vocal contingent of anti-Trump delegates to the convention are searching for ways to stop Trump from being nominated — or, failing that, to at least assert control over the party’s vice presidential nominee.
The proposed rules change centers around Rule 40, which has already been a topic of much discussion this year. One of the rule's clauses requires a candidate to win the support of the majority of delegates in eight states in order to be considered for the nomination. The rule was changed from five to eight states in 2012 to prevent Ron Paul’s name from being given as an option. Changing that rule would allow non-Trump candidates to be considered for the nomination on the floor.
Here’s the gist of the proposed changes regarding choosing the vice presidential nominee:
Deleting the clause in rule 40(a) which says that if there is only one candidate for VP, a “a motion to nominate for such office by acclamation shall be in order and no calling of the roll with respect to such office shall be required.”
Adding a clause in rule 40(b) that would require the candidate for the VP nomination to have support from a majority of delegates from three or more states — a lower threshhold than eight.
Attempting to minimize the amount of influence the presidential nominee has in this process, by adding the following sentence: “The preference of any candidate seeking nomination for president of the United States shall have no bearing upon the submission of names for nomination for vice president of the United States nor the recording of votes for the same.”
Adding a new clause that calls for multiple rounds of voting if a VP candidate doesn’t reach ⅔ on the first round: “If no vice- presidential candidate shall have received a two-thirds in the first round of balloting, the chairman of the convention shall direct the roll of the states be called again and shall repeat the calling of the roll until a candidate shall have received a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the convention in the subsequent roll of the states.”
A source with the Free the Delegates movmeent, a group that is attempting to stop Trump by advocating that delegates be able to vote their conscience at the convention instead of remaining bound, described the proposal as the "arranged marriage option."
"It’s a counterweight to Trump," the source said. "It’s the grassroots saying if you’re going to do this, you’re going to do it with our pick."
Getting delegations from three states to get behind a candidate is a threshold that is “high enough to weed out crazy people, while low enough to let a few states come to terms” with a candidate, the source said.
The change “will take the decision making out of the hands of the RNC and Trump and into the hands of delegates,” the source said.
A Rules Committee member who has seen the proposal described it as “a clarification of what delegates are allowed to do. It also makes it easier for that decision to go to the delegates rather than be decided by acclimation.”
One of the main arguments against attempts to block Trump at the convention has been that the voters have spoken; Trump won the primary fair and square.
But, the Rules Committee member pointed out, “obviously, that doesn’t apply to the vice presidential nomination.”
“We don’t know who Trump would pick for that position but I think we have a right to have a say on that,” the member said.
Trump has said that he will announce his vice-presidential pick ahead of the convention. Top contenders include Newt Gingrich, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and according to the Washington Post, retired Gen. Mike Flynn.
Here's a draft of the proposed rules change: