My God: He’s making a play to win the nomination on the 15th ballot.
No, actually, I think what he’s doing here is putting his #NeverTrump beliefs into practice.
Rubio has sent letters to Republican officials in states where he has won delegates, charging he wants to keep his delegates, even though he’s no longer an active candidate.
Representatives from Rubio’s network said the former candidate wants to retain his delegates in order to keep his options open in the coming months. Campaigns are preparing for the possibility of a contested national convention in July that could feature an intense fight for every available delegate…
Alaska had already divvied up Rubio’s five delegates to Trump and Ted Cruz. However, since the actual people have not been selected yet, the state party said the delegates will go back to Rubio.
In Oklahoma, state party Chairwoman Pam Pollard said she received a letter from Rubio saying he has not released his 12 delegates from that state.
If those delegates are released, Rubio can try to persuade and cajole them all he likes to vote for Cruz over Trump — but that’s all he can do is try. They’re free agents, entitled to support whomever they like. The only way he can ensure they don’t vote for Trump on the first ballot is to keep them bound to him for that vote. And it’s the first ballot, remember, that’s all-important for Trump. The delegates he’s won in the primaries are required to vote for him on that ballot only; Team Cruz is hard at work making sure that Cruz fans are elected across the country as Trump delegates so that, if Trump fails to clinch a majority on the first ballot, they’ll switch to Cruz en masse once they become unbound on the second. Every delegate that Rubio releases now becomes an unbound delegate whom Trump could, in theory, convince to support him on the first ballot, which increases the chance that he’ll get to 1,237. (Cruz could also win over Rubio’s unbound delegates, of course, but no one thinks Cruz will be close enough to win outright on the first ballot. Those delegates won’t matter to him unless he makes it to the second.) What Rubio’s doing here, in other words, is limiting the number of available unbound delegates to make it that much harder for Trump to win.
And he’s making no bones about it:
“Of course, he’s no longer a candidate and wants to give voters a chance to stop Trump,” Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said in an email to the Washington Examiner.
Rubio won 167 delegates as a presidential candidate, and dozens of them will be required to back him on the first ballot of the Republican National Convention, though the rules vary state-by-state. By working to retain his delegates, Rubio is shrinking the pool of “free agents” who could help Trump clinch the nomination on the first ballot.
Cruz fans owe Rubio thanks for this. In fact, it’s almost certainly better than an endorsement. Think of it this way: If Rubio succeeds in keeping, say, 100 delegates away from Trump on the first ballot, that’s the equivalent to Cruz of winning a very large state. (Florida was only 99 delegates.) Rubio endorsing Cruz and campaigning for him might move some votes his way, but it’s hard to believe it’d make enough difference in enough states to shift 100 delegates to Cruz. And it may be an either/or choice: If Rubio endorses Cruz, that may be treated for purposes of state GOP rules as him no longer maintaining an “active campaign,” which would mean Rubio’s delegates become unbound. Rubio might be better off staying out of the fray and keeping his delegates on the board. And Cruz should be doing everything he can right now to make sure that John Kasich, whether or not he eventually suspends his campaign, follows Rubio’s lead and keeps his delegates on the board too. The fewer available unbound delegates there are on the first ballot, the greater the chance that Trump doesn’t clinch.
Speaking of delegate math, here’s Trump advisor Barry Bennett telling MSNBC yesterday that the “lawsuit” Trump’s been threatening over Cruz winning more delegates in Louisiana is actually a complaint to the RNC to have Louisiana’s delegates decertified. (Which is good, because they’d almost certainly never win in court.) Er … why would Trump want to do that? Trump won 18 delegates in Louisiana; he’ll need every last delegate he can scrape together to get to 1,237 on the first ballot. As noted, if he falls short on the first ballot, it’s highly likely that he’ll lose on a subsequent ballot. That being so, the last thing he should want to do is get 18 of his own delegates tossed out simply because it’ll cost Cruz a few more than that. Cruz has no prayer of getting to 1,237 on the first ballot. All he wants to do on that vote is prevent Trump from clinching. As such, he’ll happily shed himself of some of his own delegates if he can reduce Trump’s total too. Does Team Trump not understand the math here?
Oh, and needless to say at this point, his core claim here that Trump’s team in Louisiana was somehow unfairly excluded from a meeting is untrue.