With a bang and a whimper, anti-Trump campaign succumbs in Cleveland


The quixotic campaign to “free the delegates” and deny Donald Trump the GOP nomination effectively ended late Thursday with a bang and a whimper in a dimly lit convention center basement 13 hours into a marathon Rules Committee meeting.

The bang was administered by Jordan Ross, a constable from Laughlin, Nev., in full uniform with a shiny seven-pointed gold star and stentorian voice that he freely admitted he loves the sound of. Even before Kendal Unruh, a Cruz delegate who teaches at a Christian school in suburban Denver, had a chance to offer a “conscience clause” that would enable delegates to ignore their pledge to vote for Trump, Ross rose to say the jig is up, the game is over, offering a motion stipulating that nothing in the rules would undo delegates being bound to the popular will of the voters back home.

“I have no intention of returning to Nevada’s voters and telling them I had a part in shredding their votes,” Ross said.

The vote was a crushing 87-12, leaving the movement to “free the delegates” and stop Trump nowhere near the quarter of the Rules Committee’s 112 members that would be needed to raise the issue next week on the convention floor.

READ: GOP rules panel turns away bids for more Texas nominating clout

Unruh went on to offer her conscience clause, but it failed on a voice vote.

Unruh never mentioned Trump, only the fundamental American right to keep faith with one’s principles.

“One cannot force a doctor to perform an abortion when it’s against his conscience. You cannot force the Mennonites to go into the draft. This is how our Founding Fathers set up the rule of law,” Unruh said. “All I am asking is that you regard this as the sanctity of the vote and the duty and the obligation of each delegate to cast a ballot according to their conscience. That is a God-given right that cannot be taken away by the RNC, by any party or by the state.”

But it appeared that Unruh’s movement had peaked a few weeks ago and was now overtaken by the hunger of delegates for a successful convention. For a subdued Unruh, the night ended with her withdrawing a couple of other motions.

The rules must still be approved by the convention delegates when they convene Monday. Steven Lonegan, an Unruh ally who directed the Cruz campaign in New Jersey, told the American-Statesman on Friday: “Batten down the hatches. Full speed ahead.”

But the mood Thursday night made plain that the party’s rule makers were weary of the naysaying about their presumptive nominee and insistent that the time had come to close ranks and rally around the outsider who was the people’s choice.

The debate culminated and was crystallized in an exchange between Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee, who is Texas’ Sen. Ted Cruz’s best friend and closest ally in the Senate, and former Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri, an ally of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

READ: Will David Barton protect the Constitution from Donald Trump?

“At the end of the day, I hope that whoever our nominee is going to be this time will win over the delegates,” said Lee, who isn’t supporting Trump, as the committee was voting to keep delegates bound. “Rules like this are not going to help. This problem, this angst, as we will see in a few days, is not going to go away, just because we paper over it with rules.”

“So I say to Mr. Trump and those aligned with him: Make the case. Make the case to those delegates who want to have a voice. Make the case that they should use that voice to support him,” Lee said. “Don’t make the case that their voice ought to be silenced. That is not going to help elect him president. That is not going to help him in the long run.”

“I have great respect for Sen. Lee,” Munisteri said. But, Munisteri said that, while Lee purports to represent the grass roots, “you want to ignore what is really the grass roots, which is millions of millions of voters that voted for Donald Trump. If we’re really representative of the grass roots, and we’re really representative of conservatism, we listen to those voices.”

“Sir, there is nobody else running for president in this party than Donald Trump,” said Munisteri, who began the campaign season as a senior adviser to Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul. “The most important thing is not to let the left wing take over our country this fall, and the only thing that’s standing between that happening is our victory with our nominee and our ticket. It is time, sir, for you and everyone else to come together, to say this party is united and we will defeat the Democrats.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Man arrested after road rage shooting involving Austin police officer, officials say
Man arrested after road rage shooting involving Austin police officer, officials say

Austin police have arrested a suspect who a Cottonwood Shores man said shot at his family and an off-duty Austin police officer in an apparent road rage incident in Burnet County. An off-duty Austin police officer stopped along RM 1431 during the November incident and intervened at the time, shooting and wounding the gunman, Austin police...
Texan gets panel’s nod for federal judge post over Democrats’ objections
Texan gets panel’s nod for federal judge post over Democrats’ objections

It has become a familiar scene at the Senate Judiciary Committee: A Texas nominee for a federal judicial post gets blasted by Democrats before being approved on a party-line vote. On Thursday, the committee, which includes both Texas GOP Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, considered the nomination of Matthew Kacsmaryk for a district judgeship in Amarillo...
Police: Man was racing when he crashed and killed 2 boys in Cedar Park
Police: Man was racing when he crashed and killed 2 boys in Cedar Park

An 18-year-old man arrested in the deaths of two young stepbrothers in a car crash last week in Cedar Park was racing when the wreck happened, police said Thursday. Hayden Michael Hammer was arrested and charged Thursday with two counts of racing on a highway causing death, a second-degree felony, Cedar Park police Cmdr. Bryan Wukasch said Thursday...
Anti-CodeNext PACs spend thousands to force vote
Anti-CodeNext PACs spend thousands to force vote

Campaign finance reports filed in Austin this week show that groups trying to put CodeNext on the ballot are raising and spending tens of thousands of dollars. Two special political action committees that are by and large against the city’s current revamping of the entire land use code, calling the effort “CodeWreck,” have spent roughly...
Mother, 8-month-old baby found dead in Taylor house after fire, officials say
Mother, 8-month-old baby found dead in Taylor house after fire, officials say

A mother and her 8-month-old baby were found dead Thursday inside their Taylor house after it caught fire, Taylor police officials said. Taylor police said they are investigating this as a suspicious death. Taylor firefighters were responding to an unrelated medical call when they saw smoke coming from the home at 2006 Brewer’s Place. Firefighters...
More Stories