GOP leaders reject convention rules change
By Associated Press | April 21, 2016, 20:20 EDT
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — Republican Party leaders turned aside an effort Thursday to change the rules at their national convention to make it harder for the GOP to choose a fresh presidential candidate and not Donald Trump, a prelude to what may be sharper battles ahead.
The showdown, which pitted top Republican National Committee leaders against a renegade committeeman from Oregon, came at a time when many in the party believe that Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are likely to lose in the November general election. Some have been hoping a new candidate will emerge at the party’s nominating convention in Cleveland, a prospect that has drawn the wrath of Trump and Cruz backers as well as many grassroots conservatives. It has also served to keep Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s campaign alive.
Though the party’s 56-member rules committee rejected the proposal by voice vote, Thursday’s showdown was likely a mere skirmish compared to the battles that may occur in Cleveland over the bylaws the party will follow to choose its standard-bearer in the fall election.
The RNC and its rules committee can recommend changes in the processes the 2,472 convention delegates will use to crown a nominee. But only the delegates themselves can approve which rules they will use — a decision they won’t make till they gather in July.
Solomon Yue, the RNC committeeman from Oregon, said the House of Representatives rules that the party has long used at its presidential conventions give the presiding officer too much power. Yue proposed instead using Roberts Rules of Order, which he said would enable a majority of the delegates to block an effort by the presiding officer to open the proceedings to fresh nominations.
Yue said that 2016 has been “a politically supercharged year” and warned that efforts by party leaders to dictate events in Cleveland “would blow up the convention and cause us to lose in November the White House fight.”
Party leaders worked to defeat the plan, saying that by making any rules changes, they would be accused of trying to unfairly help or hurt a presidential hopeful. Trump has repeatedly clashed with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, saying the party’s rules for collecting delegates are “rigged.”
“Our making a change of this magnitude at this point is the worst possible thing that we could do to inspire the confidence of the delegates in our home states that we are not putting our finger on the scale for any candidate,” said Enid Mickelsen, an RNC committeewoman from Utah.
Written by Alan Fram