Via the Daily Wire, this actually isn’t the first time anti-Trump delegate Kendal Unruh has made this claim. She told the Wall Street Journal a few days ago that she had private commitments from more than 30 members of the Rules Committee that they’ll support a “minority report” on a rule change that would allow delegates to vote their conscience on the nomination.
Here’s one way to look at this. If in reality she’s way, way short of the 28 votes she needs, what incentive does Unruh have at this point to tell the truth?
Unruh explained that “28 committee members are required to pass a minority report, which then goes to the convention floor for all delegates to vote on. It then requires a simple majority to pass.” She added that she does “have the 28 votes required for the minority report,” continuing, “Not everyone who is with us is willing to be public yet, due in part to the threats being made by Trump’s campaign and the RNC itself.”…
Here was Unruh’s explanation of her personal opposition to Trump:
“Simply put, he doesn’t represent our party and he can’t win in November. Not only do the moral objections to his candidacy run deep, but his positions are also absolutely untrustworthy. He speaks by the seat of his pants and floats ideas out into thin air only to retract them the next day when they are ill-received. Republicans deserve a candidate who is grounded – in morals, in policy, and in constitutional truths. It’s not that Trump isn’t our preferred candidate or that we’re sore losers because our guy didn’t win. Donald Trump has only – conveniently – become a Republican in recent years, and even after switching his registration, he’s continued his personal donations to corrupt, liberal Democrats. How can he run against Hillary when he’s funded her? When he spoke to Bill Clinton on the phone prior to announcing his candidacy? Trump can’t win against Hillary in November because people don’t trust him either. The American citizens will continue to catch on to the fact that Trump is an entertainer who knows how to tickle ears and elicit enthusiasm. But ear-bait quickly turns into into insanity, as we’ve already seen, and Trump is already losing so badly to Hillary that it would be nearly impossible for him to recover by November. The delegates need to be free to choose a different nominee so that we can win in November and set the Supreme Court on the right side of the future.”
Assume she only has 10 Committee members who are prepared to support a “conscience” rule. What happens if she goes public with that? You know what happens: Trump declares victory, “Dump Trump” skeptics have a belly laugh over how feeble the movement to oust him is, and — most importantly — any Committee members who might be persuadable if they sense momentum against Trump decide that there’s no momentum to be found and resign themselves to defeating the rule. Unruh’s biggest problem in getting a floor vote on unbinding the delegates is that such a thing really isn’t in the Overton window of convention developments. Fencesitters won’t join a coup until they sense that the coup is happening without them or not. As such, Unruh has every reason to tell friendly reporters that this is in the bag and that, at a bare minimum, there’ll be a dramatic vote among the 2,400+ delegates on the floor on whether they should be allowed to vote for whichever nominee they want. If she’s lying and she ends up with, say, just 10 votes on the Committee for a rule change later this week, she’ll simply claim, honestly or not, that a bunch of people who had committed to support her got cold feet at the last minute for fear of retaliation by Trump and the RNC. That excuse will be all too plausible given how thuggish Trump’s inner circle has been about dealing with delegates whom they fear might revolt.
There’s another reason to think Unruh’s bluffing. If “Dump Trump” really had reached the point where they could force a floor vote on unbinding the delegates, presumably they’d have lined up a replacement nominee by now. It’s easy to ask the delegates to free themselves to vote for someone else if there’s someone specific standing by as an alternative. Asking them to bounce the presumptive nominee when he’s been fundraising for a month and staffing up for the summer and fall when there’s no obvious replacement is a much steeper request. How long would the convention drag on before they settled on a new nominee? According to Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed, who listened in on the “Dump Trump” delegates’ conference call last night, they’re still at the point where — well, where a lot of anti-Trump voters were the day after the New Hampshire primary. Lots of agreement that Trump is bad, bad, bad, zero agreement on who the consensus anti-Trump should be:
Dane Waters says "No doubt in my mind that there are enough delegate supporting this that Trump will not be the nominee on the first ballot"
— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) July 11, 2016
Just heard a guy say he would not support Rubio. several people want Cruz, have heard Walker mentioned
— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) July 11, 2016
Bill Kristol’s still nudging Romney or John Kasich to “step up” but Romney might be less popular with Republican voters than Trump at this point and Kasich remains stuck with the unhappy fact that he lost badly to Trump in every state but one. Paul Ryan is an obvious alternative, but he’s viewed as a “globalist” enemy by the populist base. There’ll be no consensus for him either. The bizarre irony of the “Dump Trump” movement is that it might actually succeed in unbinding the delegates — only to have those newly freed delegates choose Trump anyway because the party couldn’t come to an understanding about anyone else. It’d be a perfect metaphor for GOP haplessness, striking as the presumptive nominee hard enough to badly wound him against but not quite hard enough to remove him. So that’s probably the likeliest outcome.