All in: RNC joins Trump in effort to stop "Dump Trump" delegates

Your quote of the day, courtesy of a GOP Rules Committee member: “We’re going to ride the Trump bandwagon into 1600 Penn Ave., or into oblivion. One or the other.” I couldn’t agree more.

Anti-Trumpers will be angry that the RNC is meddling behind the scenes to ensure smooth sailing for Trump when (a) the delegates are supposed to work this out among themselves, (b) Team Reince is going to the mat for a guy who’s had trouble lately cracking 40 percent in national polls, and (c) Trump won the primaries by making the case that “the establishment,” of which the RNC is a right-wing embodiment, is filled with corrupt cretins who badly need to be smashed. (That was before the RNC took over Trump’s campaign.) That’s okay, though. Priebus and his team will get their reward this fall if/when Trump fades down the stretch and spends the last month of the campaign at his rallies complaining that the incompetent “establishment” sabotaged him. There’s a real chance come mid-November that pro-Trump Republicans will despise the RNC for having somehow lost the election for Trump and anti-Trump Republicans will despise the RNC for not having fought harder to keep Trump from the nomination when it had the chance.

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or oblivion. Sounds right.

[The Trump campaign and the RNC] are employing hard-nosed tactics, warning delegates that attempting to undermine Donald J. Trump’s claim to the nomination violates party rules, and threatening to deny speaking slots to Republicans they deem disloyal for not backing him…

The R.N.C. and the Trump campaign are also installing loyal party stalwarts in key party positions to help ensure that they maintain control of the convention if rogue delegates attempt a disruption. And they are trying to discredit Republicans who are advocating an interpretation of party rules that would allow delegates to vote for anyone they want on the first ballot…

For its part, the committee is leaving little to chance as it works closely with the Trump campaign in plotting the mechanics of the convention. The two have hired about a dozen operatives to ensure that the nominating vote goes off without a hitch. Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, has dispatched associates to reach out to first-time delegates.

And lawyers for the committee are advising state party leaders how to beat back the anti-Trump efforts, prompting party chairs from Minnesota to Washington State to issue admonitions to delegates who may be thinking of breaking their obligation to vote for Mr. Trump. Party officials are now gently reminding delegates that in the process of applying to be a delegate, many of them signed statements vowing to vote for the candidate to which they were pledged.

You already know what the Times means when it mentions installing party loyalists to block rogue delegates. That’s a reference to the fact that more than a third of the Rules Committee will consist of RNC apparatchiks, no doubt tasked with defeating any measures designed to unbind the delegates by adding a “conscience” exception to the rules of voting on the nomination. And wouldn’t you know it, after Politico reached out to the 112 members of the Rules Committee, they found little support for the idea of dumping Trump. Of the 32 delegates who responded, 25 said they’d fight to protect Trump’s nomination; another 33 have said before on record that they think the party should stick with Trump; and 33 more on top of that come from states or jurisdictions where Trump won the primary. Anti-Trumpers on the Rules Committee might still be able to force a vote of all delegates on whether there should be a “conscience” exception, but they’d have to do it via a minority report, which would lack the moral authority of a majority vote by the entire Committee in favor of unbinding everyone.

I think the RNC figures, probably correctly, that the likeliest outcome of the eleventh-hour “Dump Trump” is a lot of noise that plays badly on television followed by a wounded Trump being nominated anyway. There’s an argument for dumping him and there’s an argument for nominating him enthusiastically, but it’s hard to see the logic if the party’s trying to win in November of nominating him after making a big public show of how many delegates dislike him. That’s what the anti-Trump minority on the Rules Committee will have to weigh before pushing a minority report. If it looks like there are 800 votes on the floor for a “conscience” exception, which isn’t enough to stop Trump but is enough to give the media a “One-third of delegates revolt!” storyline, is it worth doing? Since it’s being framed as a matter of conscience, maybe the answer is … yes. Maybe the #NeverTrumpers there simply want it on record that they opposed Trump while the rest of the party meekly went along. I think that’s what this RNC effort to squash the anti-Trumpers is really about. No one seriously thinks Trump will be ousted in Cleveland. The question is whether refuseniks will be given a chance to register their dissent formally, whatever that might mean for the party in terms of bad PR.

Here’s Marco Rubio reminding Republicans that Trump’s never going to follow through on mass deportation of illegals or a ban on Muslim visitors, which was true even before Trump basically confirmed it yesterday. Exit question via John McCormack: Do anti-Trumpers who’ve donated to the RNC know that their money is now being used to hire “about a dozen operatives to ensure that the nominating vote [for Trump] goes off without a hitch”? How do they feel about donating to the RNC going forward to support projects like that?