Note to Reince: This is only going to lead to much, much more whining.
The rules were set last year. Nothing mysterious –nothing new. The rules have not changed. The rules are the same. Nothing different.
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) April 12, 2016
Nomination process known for a year + beyond. It's the responsibility of the campaigns to understand it. Complaints now? Give us all a break
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) April 13, 2016
That attack didn’t come out of the blue. On the contrary, it was a counterattack:
Donald Trump on Tuesday slammed the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), claiming the party’s system for selecting its presidential nominee is a “scam” and a “disgrace.”
During an exclusive interview with The Hill at Trump Tower, Trump said, “It’s a disgrace for the party. And Reince Priebus should be ashamed of himself. He should be ashamed of himself because he knows what’s going on.”…
Pressed on whether he would file a lawsuit against the RNC, Trump said, “I don’t want to think about suing yet. I’m not looking to do the lawsuits. I’m looking to have it steered right.”
Paul Manafort claimed this weekend that Team Trump is planning to file multiple protests with the RNC over “Gestapo tactics” being used by Team Cruz to win delegates, like, I assume, (a) calling them up, (b) asking for their support, (c) making sure they attend the requisite meetings. The Trump campaign would never stoop to such things. In fact, spinning away organizational failures is likely to be a key part of Manafort’s job going forward: Even if he succeeds in making Trump competitive in delegate-wrangling going forward, it’s already too late in many states.
In Virginia — a state where Trump won the primary — he has missed the deadlines to assemble lists of potential delegates. Cruz, however, has delegate candidates in 10 of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts.
The application deadline was last month.
Indiana’s primary is May 3, but 27 of the state’s 57 delegates — the actual people — have already been selected at congressional district caucuses. The deadline to register as a candidate for delegate was March 15.
In all, at least nine states have picked some or all of their delegates: Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
There are still dozens of states left on the table but the hallmark of Trump’s campaign is how small it is, until recently relying on a handful of inner-circle advisors plus a patchwork of volunteers at the state level, many of whom were participating in party politics for the first time. He hasn’t taken care to maintain his operations in some states that he’s already won either, leaving him short-handed in delegate outreach there. What’s Manafort supposed to do to win delegate elections in dozens of states without dozens of deputies who know what they’re doing? Even more ominous, via Erick Erickson, is how Cruz is out-organizing Trump in California, which nearly everyone expects will decide on June 7th whether Trump gets anywhere near 1,237 delegates or not. Not only will Trump likely need to clear 70 percent of California’s delegates to clinch, noted Yahoo News yesterday — which is no easy organizational task in a state that’s winner-take-all by congressional district — but the candidates are responsible for choosing their own delegate slate in each district by May 7th. It took Team Cruz five months to identify three core supporters plus three alternates in each of California’s 53 districts. Team Trump, meanwhile, just hired a political director for California … yesterday. What happens if Trump beats Cruz handily on June 7th but his campaign failed to name delegates in the districts he’s won? According to Team Cruz, that means Trump gets skunked in those districts. Good luck, Paul Manafort.
All of this explains why Trump and his allies will spend the next three months reduced to increasingly desperate gimmicks designed to either delegitimize the delegate selection process (a la Manafort’s “Gestapo tactics” crack) or to work around it somehow, a la Roger Stone insisting that delegates sign a pledge that they’ll vote for Trump on all ballots if they’re bound to him on the first. It’s the political equivalent of the old lawyer’s maxim that you pound the facts if the facts are on your side, pound the law if the law’s on your side, and pound the table if neither is. They’re probably not going to get to 1,237 delegates via the remaining primaries; they’re almost certainly not going to get there either by out-organizing Cruz in state delegate elections. So it’s time to pound the table. If Reince thinks he’s tired of whining now, just wait until the day after California votes.