Diehl: ‘Never Trump’ delegates acting like Beacon Hill Democrats
By Evan Lips | July 18, 2016, 19:56 EDT
CLEVELAND — Hours after so-called “Never Trump” delegates unsuccessfully tried to force a roll call rules vote during the first session of the Republican National Convention, Beacon Hill’s most ardent Donald Trump supporter compared their efforts to the tactics he claimed are typical of Massachusetts Democrats: “bundling” separate issues together in order to prompt a divisive vote.
“Ideally this type of work should be done separately from the convention so that there isn’t sort of this artificial pressure to get these things wrapped up in order to make sure that everything is running smoothly for the candidate,” state Rep. Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) said about Monday afternoon’s drama. “It should really be a separate issue in my opinion and the Democrats do that all the time — they try to bundle certain things into consolidated bills.”
Diehl added however that he was not inside the convention hall at the time, noting that he was “making the rounds” on radio row while the saga played out. Diehl is not a delegate.
Delegates opposed to Trump had begun circulating a petition Monday afternoon to withdraw their support:
— Evan Lips (@evanmlips) July 18, 2016
The “Never Trump” crowd stood in opposition of convention rules requiring pledged delegates to vote in line with the results of state primaries and caucuses. The group had earlier submitted signatures from a majority of delegates hailing from several states. Massachusetts Republican State Committeewoman Chanel Prunier claimed the group had originally secured a majority of delegates from 11 states, although various media reports penciled in the total as amounting to nine.
Majorities from seven states would have forced a roll-call vote, Prunier said.
“Then they twisted arms to get it to six by asking people to withdraw their names from the paperwork and once it got below the threshold they pulled it,” Prunier said.
Prunier downplayed the drama that unfolded on national television and claimed the move did “not have anything to do with the nomination.”
“The real question today that was being decided was this — what are the Republican Party’s rules going to look like four years from now or eight years from now?” Prunier said. “What is going to be the process for the nomination of the next candidate? The tone that’s been set is a centralization of power in the Republican National Committee and taking it away from the delegates at the convention, taking out transparency and accountability from the process and reducing the role the delegates play in the nomination process.”
Prunier added that nothing will stop Trump from emerging as the official GOP presidential nominee.
“Nothing that happens today will mean he is not going to be our nominee,” she said.
Diehl said he sympathizes with the frustrations of delegates who felt they were being silenced by the party.
“To be honest with you, as a Massachusetts Republican, who is used to sort of being marginalized by the Democrats on Beacon Hill, I can understand the frustration from people,” Diehl said. “The fact that it’s being brought up during the Trump convention, really it’s not really relevant to the fact that the effort to nominate him is tied into all of that.”
“Ideally this type of work should be done separately from the convention so that there isn’t sort of this artificial pressure to get these things wrapped up in order to make sure that everything is running smoothly for the candidate.”
Diehl also said Monday’s action was not unprecedented.
“Four years ago the Ron Paul delegates tried a similar procedure to try to see if they could maybe somehow shoe either Ron Paul or one of his platforms into the convention in a relevant way,” said Diehl, who served as an alternate delegate in 2012. “It didn’t work and I think that ultimately was sort of repeated today.”