Trump to RNC: You're going to have a "rough July" if you don't "straighten out" this delegate system

A “rough July” meaning “protests,” I’m sure. Why? What did you think he meant?

Enjoy the irony of Mr Populism appealing to the party’s establishment to do something imperious on his behalf and “straighten out” the state GOPs’ processes for selecting delegates. I don’t know what he has in mind by that. Probably nothing. Probably it’s just populist claptrap designed to make voters think that the sinister RNC is orchestrating Trump’s embarrassing series of defeats by Cruz in state delegation elections. Trump’s problem, though, isn’t that “the bosses are picking the delegates,” as he falsely claims near the end here. His problem is that it’s committed grassroots Republicans who are picking (most of) them, just as the rules provide. They’ve been attending state conventions for years; they know how the process works. Unlike Trump and many of his fans, they gave a crap about the GOP before June 2015. Go figure that a group of mostly conservative activists would put their institutional and organizational knowledge to work for the lone conservative candidate in the race.

If anything, the RNC is doing what little it can behind the scenes to make sure that the deck isn’t stacked against Trump at the leadership level. Per the NYT, Reince Priebus sent a text message to members of the Rules Committee last week warning them not to make any rule changes at their upcoming meeting, knowing that Trump will whine that the new rules are designed to “steal” the nomination from him no matter what they actually say. There’s good sense, as a matter of basic fairness, in not changing the rules in the middle of the game — except that’s exactly what Trump is urging Priebus to do in the clip below. “Straighten out” the delegate process, he says, presumably by changing the rules to stop Cruz from winning. Once again Trump shows you that he has no problem with a rigged system, as long as the system’s rigged to benefit him.

Speaking of delegate selection, this piece from GQ accusing Trump of wanting to lose at the convention is making the rounds on social media among anti-Trumpers. Variations of that theory have been floating around for awhile, but now that it’s breaking into big media, can we please dispense with this silliness before it spreads any further? The “Trump wants to lose” theory appeals to the #NeverTrump wing because (a) if true, it all but guarantees that Trump won’t be the nominee, and (b) it reduces Trump’s campaign to something somewhere between a PR stunt and a prank. But look: If he wanted to lose, he wouldn’t have hired Paul Manafort and Rick Wiley. It’s really as simple as that. Even if you think Manafort and Wiley are ineffectual and won’t help much, the fact remains that if Trump were trying to tank in Cleveland he’d be running his campaign the same way he ran it for the first eight months. He’d cede the field completely to Cruz in delegate-wrangling while reassuring his fans that everything’s shipshape and there’s no need to worry. He’d also double down on lots of stupid outrages, like insulting Cruz’s wife, designed to alienate undecided Republican voters. In reality, he’s done the opposite lately, toning down his shtick to avoid any momentum-busting unforced errors. The course he was on would have all but guaranteed that he tanked at the convention. But he’s changing course now, a little. He’s trying to win.

Exit question: Elsewhere yesterday he claimed that he’s losing the delegate wars because he won’t “pay off” people. Isn’t this the same guy who’s spent the past year crowing about how he gamed “the system” by donating to Democrats? Paying off politicians is just part of the cost of doing business in New York, I thought. Even if it were true, as he suggests, that paying off delegates is part of the cost of winning the nomination, since when would we have any scruples about not doing that?

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022