Trump: I may have to sue Cruz for "stealing" delegates in Louisiana

A leftover from yesterday’s Sunday shows. Skip to 8:35 of the clip below for the key bit. (In Trump’s defense, Jon Karl of ABC uses the term “stealing the nomination” before Trump answers.) As Matt Lewis said elsewhere this morning, if this guy thinks the GOP nomination process is baroque and unfair, wait until he finds out about the electoral college.

My goodness. What sinister chicanery did Ted Cruz use to somehow squeeze a majority of delegates out of a state he lost? Greasing palms? Rigging the ballot box? Forcing delegates at gunpoint to commit to him and him alone?

Nope. He out-organized Trump:

Kay Kellogg Katz, a former Louisiana state legislator and Trump supporter who has attended every GOP convention since 1984, told the Wall Street Journal that Cruz’s team out-organized Trump’s. Katz lost her delegate position on a key Republican National Committee Convention panel in a 22-5 vote to political new comer and Cruz supporter Kim Fralick…

Five of the state’s delegates, who were formerly supporting Sen. Marco Rubio are now likely to support Cruz, Louisiana Republicans believe. Additionally, a GOP official told WSJ that the state’s five unbound delegates — who are free to back the candidates of their choice — are likely to back Cruz over Trump.

Following the Louisiana primary, delegates met at a March 12 meeting to decide who would represent the state committee on three key convention committees — rules, credentials and the party platform. The majority of the delegates elected two members to each panel that day. Cruz delegates managed to fill up five of the six available posts.

“This seems like the sort of problem that someone known for hiring ‘the best people’ should be able to avoid,” writes Andrew Stiles. Cruz spokesman Ron Nehring wasn’t sympathetic either, oddly enough:

Trump’s theory of the race from day one was that you wouldn’t need to do as much retail campaigning or sweat organizational minutiae if you could command a mass audience through the media. He was almost entirely right about that; he may yet clinch 1,237 delegates before Cleveland despite Cruz’s best efforts to play keepaway through an extensive grassroots network of delegate-hunting. But then again, he may not, and if he doesn’t he’ll have to explain to his fans why a man with limitless resources, who was allegedly planning this run since election 2012, decided it wasn’t worth spending what he needed to spend to make his operation the organizational equal of Cruz’s. Nehring isn’t engaged in mere taunting here. He’s right that the rules could have been and should have bene familiar to Trump since before the campaign began, as there’s nothing new or unusual about the GOP using a system of delegates to choose the nominee if no one clinches a majority on the first ballot. It mirrors the Constitution’s deputization of the House of Representatives to choose the president if no candidate clinches a majority of electoral votes. You could have a rule that says whoever has a plurality of EVs wins — but we don’t. You could have a rule that does away with EVs entirely and makes the winner of the popular vote president — but we don’t. So what’s the problem?

Trump has a legitimate excuse for being out-organized in states like South Carolina, where the delegate pool is limited to people who attended the previous party convention. It’s hard as a newcomer who’s mobilized new voters to outmaneuver party regulars when the rules are written to exclude those newcomers. But not every states operates that way. So why has Trump, who personally controls more wealth than Cruz’s campaign and Super PACs combined do, been caught flat-footed here?

While Trump cries foul, Cruz is racking up support from prospective delegates across the country, even in states where Trump dominated the primary. From Louisiana to Georgia to South Carolina — all Trump victories — delegates and delegate candidates are lining up to back Cruz, who’s romped among the Republican activist class that tends to control this part of the process. South Dakota’s delegates and early contests in Iowa also appear to favor Cruz.

“I’ve been telling the Trump campaign for eight months now that they’re making a mistake by not reaching out to RNC members to establish relationships,” said one South Carolina Republican participating in the state’s delegate selection process. “He hasn’t done any of that. … That’s usually the kind of thing that presidential candidates do.”…

“There’s a definite gradation of their efforts. Cruz’s campaign is very active. They are actively trying to get Cruz-friendly delegates elected,” said Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party. “Trump’s campaign has that as a goal but isn’t doing it as aggressively.”

They’ve been warned for months to pay attention to the rules and they’re still getting outflanked by Cruz, who himself has a steep hill to climb in winning over party brokers but at least is trying to climb it. And it’s not just Trump’s critics who think he’s been lax in competing with Cruz in the “deep primary” to elect delegates and rulemakers at the convention. Roger Stone, a former Trump advisor turned media cheerleader whom Cruz accused of planting the National Enquirer story, wrote recently that Team Trump had been “inattentive” to the process. There’s not much time for them to make up ground either: Per Politico, votes will be held to elect delegates in 10 different states in the first 10 days of April alone. If you blame Team Trump for the Enquirer thing and you’re looking for a way to answer the question “why now?”, that’s as good an explanation as any. If they can’t stop Cruz on the ground from lining up delegates for a second-ballot victory in Cleveland, they can at least try to make Cruz so radioactive with scandal that delegates might feel inclined to resist him.

Incidentally, correct me if I’m wrong, political junkies, but since the GOP is a private organization, they could change the rules to cancel all primaries and have Reince Priebus handpick the nominee and there’s nothing legally anyone could do about it. Hence Cruz’s reply today: “I’m amused –when Donald doesn’t know what to do, it’s threaten lawsuits.” Exit question: Is it true that Trump’s original goal in running this year was merely to poll in double digits and finish second in delegates, as a protest vote? The former head of a pro-Trump Super PAC, who’s now opposing his candidacy, says yes.

David Strom 7:01 PM on September 24, 2022