How Trump opponents tried and failed to block his nomination.
Pema Levy and Tim MurphyJul. 18, 2016 6:19 PM
On Monday afternoon, after the Republican National Convention officially opened, a series of speeches and pre-recorded videos by popular GOP politicians publicly conveyed a unified front for the GOP. But that lasted a short while. Within hours, a last-ditch effort to defeat Donald Trump exploded into shouting and protests on the convention floor—with the Never Trump movement ultimately failing to block Trump's path to the Republican nomination.
The final stand by Never Trump delegates focused on an effort to block the convention from adopting rules that would force anti-Trump delegates to vote for the real estate tycoon. Many delegates are required to vote for Trump because the rules of their state parties compel them to follow the will of the voters in the state. If the delegates were freed to vote their conscience, then it was possible that Trump would fail to garner the 1,237 votes needed for the nomination. In this Hail Mary scenario, delegates would have then held a series of votes until a nominee was chosen.
In order to free up convention delegates, the Never Trump movement hoped to reject the convention rules package on the floor. First, the anti-Trump delegates had to force the party to hold a roll-call vote, instead of a voice vote, on the rules. This required Never Trumpers to obtain the signatures of the majority of delegates from at least seven states. After that, anti-Trump delegates would have needed a majority of all the delegates to reject the rules package. It was unclear whether the anti-Trump forces could have bagged a majority of all the delegates. But Carl Bearden, a Missouri delegate and a member of the Never Trump movement, believes that had his side forced a roll-call vote and won, the convention would have reverted to a previous version of the rules, under which delegates bound to Trump could instead vote their conscience.
This was all a bit complicated. But what wasn't was the emotion and passions expressed as Never Trump delegates huddled in the halls and back rooms of Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena to put their plan in motion.
Their scheme had come together on the fly. Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who became a vocal Never Trump advocate last week, met throughout the afternoon with a small group of conspirators, including former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli and Colorado delegate Kendal Unruh, at the back of the convention floor. They eventually rounded up the support of eight states—Washington, Iowa, Virginia, Colorado, Utah, Minnesota, Wyoming, and Maine—plus Washington, DC, two more than necessary. They handed off their petitions to Gordon Humphrey, a former US senator from New Hampshire, to deliver them to the convention secretary, Susie Hudson.
But Humphrey and his co-conspirators couldn't find her. The Never Trump delegates scoured the convention hall for her, and they texted around a photo with a small headshot of Hudson. They feared that she had gone into hiding to avoid receiving the petitions. (At one point, the Never Trump effort circulated a photo that purported to show Hudson hiding behind a curtain.) When Eric Minor, who led the Never Trump faction of the Washington state delegation, learned, secondhand, that Humphrey had finally handed the petitions to a Hudson emissary, he gleefully relayed the news to his colleagues. But he was only cautiously optimistic about their efforts. Would it work? "Who knows?" he said. "I don't know. Nobody knows."
It didn't work. Trump operatives, fearing an insurrection, pushed hard to peel off support from the anti-Trump crowd. Rick Dearborn, chief of staff to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, warned delegates that backing a roll-call vote for transparency purposes would undermine the convention by turning the attention of the network newscasts to the fracas. (Cuccinelli told reporters that Trump backers had threatened political retribution against Virginia delegates who supported a roll-call vote.)
Chaos ensued when the rules were ultimately brought up for a voice vote, as delegates from Virginia and a handful of other states chanted "shame!" and "I object!" and "no!" A frustrated Cuccinelli—in an apparent dig at Trump's complaints during the primary process—said, "Disenfranchised! I seem to remember hearing something about this." He took off his credentials and tossed the badges to the floor, appearing to concede defeat. Yet he was quickly persuaded to fight on, and he began waving the Virginia placard back and forth as if it were a flag.
Delegates from two states, Iowa and Colorado, walked out in protest. The roll-call backers who stayed behind struggled to get Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, who was overseeing the process, to acknowledge their objections. One Virginia delegate proposed throwing something on stage to get the chair's attention. (He elected not to.) The chants for recognition from the anti-Trump delegates were drowned out by a shouts of "We want Trump!" in the risers behind them. And the unamended rules were approved.
On the floor, anti-Trump delegates were furious. "That was so egregiously bad," Minor told a group of reporters huddled around him. "They do not want Trump to be embarrassed and they want to ramrod him through as the nominee."
Minor contended that the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign had not operated in good faith regarding the petition for the roll-call vote: "They have operated completely dishonestly from the get-go here."
Minor couldn't say whether the anti-Trump delegates would try to hold a walk-out or other form of protest later. (They had not yet had time to convene and discuss other options.) He wasn't even sure if he would remain a delegate. "I wouldn't be surprised based on this display right now if they try to yank my credentials, and I could not care one bit about it," he said. "There's no party unity for me."
Pigasus the pig, the Yippies' presidential candidate in 1968
Steak magnate Donald Trump emerged from the Republican primary with just enough delegates to stave off a potential floor fight in Cleveland this week. While that's bad news for what's left of the GOP's #NeverTrump contingent, the real loser may be political junkies, who thought they'd finally see the ivory-billed woodpecker of American politics—the brokered convention. Instead, they'll have to settle for reliving the chaos of years past.
1836: The Anti-Masonic Party may have invented the political nominating convention, but it certainly didn't perfect it; the party's second effort ends without a presidential nominee amid fears that front-runner William Henry Harrison does not actually oppose Freemasonry in all cases.
1839: The first contested convention ends with the first instance of candidate-on-candidate violence. Henry Clay assaults war hero Winfield Scott—who was deep in a game of whist—after hearing that his rival cut a deal to hand the Whig nomination to Harrison. Clay is dragged from the room. Scott challenges him to a duel.
1860: The gold standard of dysfunction. Southern delegates walk out of the Democratic convention in Charleston, South Carolina, over slavery. They bolt again when the party holds a do-over in Baltimore two months later. Mirroring the schism nationwide, the party goes into November with two nominees.
1912: Undeterred by a violent primary campaign (delegates in Missouri were chosen by voters swinging baseball bats), ex-President Theodore Roosevelt promises to use "roughhouse tactics" to seize the Republican nomination from "fathead" President William Howard Taft. Roosevelt breaks with tradition by showing up in Chicago, but after losing a key procedural vote—and amid allegations of bribery on both sides—he abandons his plan to "terrorize" the convention there. Instead, he and delegates walk out and form their own party.
Theodore Roosevelt at what appears to be the first Progressive Party Convention Library of Congress
1920: Ohio Gov. Warren G. Harding enters the phrase "smoke-filled room" into the political lexicon when Republican power brokers huddle in Room 404 of Chicago's Blackstone Hotel to pick a compromise candidate. Harding wins on the 10th ballot.
The opening of the 1920 Republican National Convention in Chicago AP Photo
1924: Known as "the Klanbake," the longest convention in history (16 days) pits the Ku Klux Klan-backed William Gibbs McAdoo against New York's Catholic governor, Al Smith, in Manhattan. After a plank condemning the Klan is nixed from the platform, 20,000 Klansmen—including some delegates—celebrate in New Jersey by burning a cross and throwing baseballs at an effigy of Smith.
Gov. Alfred E. Smith received a 90-minute ovation at the 1924 Democratic Convention AP Photo
1964: New York's Republican governor, Nelson Rockefeller, is booed unmercifully at San Francisco's Cow Palace when he proposes an amendment condemning the "extremism" of the KKK and the John Birch Society. Meanwhile, supporters of the eventual nominee, Barry Goldwater, harass reporters, hurling trash (and racial slurs) at two African American journalists. The "Woodstock of the Right" ushers in a conservative revolution and an electoral disaster. Sound familiar?
Susan Goldwater promoting the candidacy of her husband, Barry Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos
1968: Some 10,000 anti-war protesters clash with more than 20,000 police officers and National Guardsmen outside the Democratic convention in Chicago. The violence spills into the convention hall, where CBS News' Dan Rather is assaulted by the police on air. Protesters from the Youth International Party—the Yippies—hold a shadow convention to nominate their own presidential candidate, a 145-pound pig named Pigasus.
1976: With President Gerald Ford 24 delegates shy of victory in Kansas City, Ronald Reagan bets the house on a risky move—he picks a running mate. Reagan's choice of moderate Pennsylvania Sen. Richard Schweiker blows up in his face when the party's right wing threatens a revolt. Although Ford wins (by a hair) on the first ballot, Reagan has the last laugh: His concession speech overshadows the nominee and sets the stage for his conservative revival four years later.
Ronald Reagan and his running mate, Sen. Richard Schweiker, at the 1976 GOP convention AP Photo
He argued it would confuse fans of his own cycling event.
Tim MurphyJul. 6, 2016 6:00 AM
Until the election, we're bringing you "The Trump Files," a daily dose of telling episodes, strange but true stories, or curious scenes from the life of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
In 1989, Donald Trump teamed up with college basketball analyst Billy Packer to host a bicycle race called the Tour de Trump. It ran from Albany, New York, to the Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, passing through Newark, and it was designed to serve as the American version of the famous Tour de France. It was a very Trump affair—one of the teams was sponsored by a Dutch brothel.
But there was another bicycle race that had just made its debut. Organizers in Aspen, Colorado, called their event the Tour de Rump, and its logo was a bicyclist with an oversized posterior.
Trump decided that the rights to the name "Trump" also extended to the word "rump," and he quickly moved to have the competition squashed. As the Aspen Times reported:
Trump's attorneys sent a letter to Tour de Rump organizer Ron Krajian. The lawyers contended that Tour de Rump violated the trademark for Tour de Trump, a road cycle race sponsored by Trump decades ago.
"You are using the name and mark Tour de Rump in connection with an 'inaugural' cycling event," Trump's counsel wrote. "Your use of that name and mark is likely to cause confusion and constitutes trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin, all in violation of applicable federal and state laws.
"Unless you give us your written assurance within 24 hours after receipt of this letter that you will forthwith cease and desist using the name and mark Tour de Rump, or any name or mark confusingly similar to Tour de Trump, we will institute legal action against you seeking injunctive relief, legal fees and actual and punitive damages."
The Tour de Rump folks were not intimidated. They did not change the name, contending Trump had no case.
It didn't take long for market forces to settle the matter. The Tour de Trump lasted two years—until Trump's plunging finances forced him to turn over his sponsorship to the DuPont corporation. The Tour de Rump is still going strong.
Mitt Romney won here by 10 points. Suddenly Arizona's a swing state.
Tim MurphyJun. 18, 2016 10:32 PM
On Saturday afternoon in Phoenix, Donald Trump did something no Republican nominee has had to do in two decades: He promised to win Arizona.
He also promised to win Connecticut, said he would do "unbelievably well with the Mexicans," and promised to solve "all of our problems" if elected president. But less than one month after he secured enough delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination, Trump's usual bombast was surrounded by signs of his campaign's own mortality.
For one thing, there was the fact that he was even appearing in Phoenix at all. Arizona was a strong state for Trump in the presidential primary, but it is an unusual place for a candidate to spend much time after winning the nomination. The state hasn't voted for a Democrat in a presidential year since 1996. No Democrats hold statewide office here, and Mitt Romney won the state by more than 10 points in 2012. If Arizona were to become a battleground state, it would most likely signify a landslide. But Clinton leads Trump in Real Clear Politics' polling average of the state, and Trump's rally on Saturday, at the Phoenix Memorial Coliseum—known locally as the "Madhouse on McDowell"—seemed to belie the state's deep-red reputation. Trump told the crowd he was "up big in the state," but then said it was "a very important state" and he would win it in the fall. Speaking a short while earlier, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who was joined at the event by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, drew a cheer from the crowd when she promised to "keep Arizona red." They just might; but the biggest story was that it even needed to be said.
Throughout the event, Trump projected an air of confidence—"I feel like a supermodel except times 10," he said of his media saturation—but there were signs that all was not going so swell with his campaign. He mocked a Politicostory that quoted a Trump adviser suggesting Trump would consider giving up his presidential bid for the right amount of money. According to the story, Trump might accept a $150 million buyout. To hoots from the crowd, Trump boasted that he wouldn't accept five times that much—but, he conceded, if they offered him $5 billion, he'd be foolish not to consider it. In the build-up to his grand entrance, one surrogate after another had engaged the audience in a call and response. The question was "Who's the nominee?" After the week he'd had, it was starting to feel a little less than rhetorical.
In his most audacious promise, Trump recalled how he had won victory after victory in northeastern blue states during the Republican primary. His strong showings were a sign, he suggested, that he could compete and win in places like Connecticut in the general election. (A cynical person might note that Republican primaries are usually won by Republicans.) But Hartford will have to wait for another time; for now, he's just trying to win Arizona.
A gunman opened fire at an Orlando gay nightclub around 2 a.m. Sunday morning and then took hostages, killing 50 people and hospitalizing 53 others, according to local law enforcement, in one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.