Anti-Trump Delegates Convene Ahead Of Cleveland — And Still Don't Have A White Knight
The delegates were confident on a conference call Sunday night that they can defeat Trump. But after the call ended, there was little consensus on who, if not Trump, the nominee should be.
WASHINGTON — Leaders of a movement of anti-Donald Trump delegates to the Republican National Convention projected confidence on Sunday night as the movement prepares to make a last-ditch effort to stop Trump's nomination.
"There's no doubt in my mind that there are enough delegates supporting this that Donald Trump will not be the nominee on the first ballot," Dane Waters, co-founder of Delegates Unbound, said on a conference call organized by Delegates Unbound and Free the Delegates, two groups that have sprung up to oppose Trump at the convention.
"1,237 people have the power to change this world and to change this country," Waters said, referring to the number of delegates a candidate must win in order to become the nominee.
This was the last of several such calls these groups have held prior to the convention and RNC committee meetings this upcoming week. The movement has developed into an organized force heading into Cleveland, but disagreement over the possible non-Trump alternative after the call ended illustrated the steep hill the anti-Trump delegate movement has to climb.
Regina Thomson, a leader of Free the Delegates and a delegate from Colorado, said she had been fielding many inquiries from foreign news outlets, who had thanked her for what the movement is doing, and that a Japanese news outlet was filming her as she conducted the call.
"We are reminding the Republican Party what it actually means to be a delegate to the convention," Thomson said.
Thomson said the anti-Trump delegates had built a "larger campaign organization in one months’ time than the Trump campaign has in a year."
Attendees of the call also heard from Beau Correll, a delegate from Virginia who has mounted a court challenge to his state's law requiring him to be bound to the winner of the primary. The decision in his case is expected to come down this week.
Correll said the outcome of his case could have an impact on 20 other states that have similar statutes regarding binding delegates — or as Correll put it, "statutes that seek to overcome party rules and individual association."
Correll also referred to a rules change proposal first written about by BuzzFeed News that would allow delegates to choose their own vice-presidential nominee, which Thomson described as part of a "Conscience Agenda" including a "conscience clause" proposal allowing delegates to vote their conscience and also the idea of allowing delegates to cast a secret ballot.
Another Free the Delegates leader, Kendal Unruh, said that her "conscience clause" would come up in the Rules Committee meeting on Friday.
Organizers also announced a texting system that will send out live updates to delegates during the convention and meetings in Cleveland.
Unruh told BuzzFeed News attendance on the call was "full at 1,000." After the call formally ended, many stayed on the line to discuss plans for the next two weeks, but the call became chaotic as phones had become un-muted after the end of the call and people were having trouble muting their phones despite repeated reminders to mute. In the ensuing confusion, some began discussing their choices for who the anti-Trump candidate should be, in a conversation that seemed to capture the main problem that the never-Trump movement has had since the beginning: an inability to agree on who the non-Trump alternative is.
Several people on the call cited Ted Cruz as their preference, and Scott Walker's name was mentioned as well. There were a few mentions of Marco Rubio, though some pointed out he will not be at the convention, and one man firmly stated that he would not support Rubio. A John Kasich suggestion was quickly dispatched.
Eventually, someone warned the rest of the listeners that media were still on the call and tweeting about how the delegates were "bickering."
"First things first, dump Trump," someone said.