Reince Priebus tweeted a veiled message to Donald Trump last night, telling him to stop complaining about how the nominating process was “stacked against [him].”
Nomination process known for a year + beyond. It's the responsibility of the campaigns to understand it. Complaints now? Give us all a break
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) April 13, 2016
NBC reported that Trump has been “outmaneuvered” by his main rival, Texas senator Ted Cruz, in their mutual hunt for delegates in states that either select them via party conventions, or otherwise have arcane rules. Trump further complained at a televised CNN town hall meeting last night that the process hinders “insurgent” candidates such as himself.
— CNN (@CNN) April 13, 2016
This is apparently what prompted Priebus to send his tweet. While he did not mention Trump by name, media sources quickly discerned that Trump was Priebus’ intended target.
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) April 13, 2016
As the RNC chairman, Reince Priebus has to defend a complex system of choosing delegates who will select the nominee.
While Colorado’s system is particularly complicated, candidates had ample notice of changes prior to the selection of delegates. The Denver Post reported the changes last August.
One local expert told The Post that the Colorado Republican Party’s revised system was “an odd scenario” for selecting delegates. But following Trump’s complaints about losing out on the Colorado delegates, Priebus explained to Politico that “while most states have primaries or caucuses, a few states like Colorado have convention systems, ‘and that’s perfectly OK.'”
“Priebus stressed that the national convention will only produce one nominee from the three-man race and pushed back on the notion that an outsider like Paul Ryan would emerge or that the party would do anything to steal the nomination from any candidate.
“‘There won’t be any games in Cleveland,’ Priebus said.”
But Colorado is not the only state where chaos has ensued, and Priebus has had to intervene. On March 28, Trump threatened legal action against the Louisiana Republican Party, claiming that it was unfair that Cruz might receive more delegates even though Trump won that state’s primary.
Just to show you how unfair Republican primary politics can be, I won the State of Louisiana and get less delegates than Cruz-Lawsuit coming
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2016
But CBS explained the rules.
“Even though Trump won more votes in the state, both Cruz and Trump were awarded 18 delegates in the wake of the primary because the race was close. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio won five delegates, but because his campaign was suspended, those five delegates become, in essence, free agents, who support whomever they choose.”
In short, Trump was complaining about the mere possibility of Rubio’s five former delegates going to Cruz, rather than to himself. Those five delegates remain uncommitted to either Trump or Cruz.
Three days after Trump’s tweet, CNN reported that he met with Priebus, and that “Priebus told Trump that his disparaging comments about the RNC made things difficult with donors and activists and the party apparatus Trump will need if he is the GOP nominee.”
Trump apparently agreed to back down on his complaints, then tweeted positively about his meeting with Priebus.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2016
But the peace only lasted until the Colorado crisis, less than two weeks later, which prompted Priebus’ tweet.
Could Reince Priebus Hand-Pick a Candidate?
Given all of the chaos, rumors have abounded that the Republican Party could pick someone besides Trump or Cruz if neither has a majority. One name that has been brought up is House Speaker Paul Ryan.
John Boehner: Ex-House Speaker Endorses Current Speaker Paul Ryan for GOP Presidential Nominee https://t.co/nl6w0bMNcl
— Chris Carmody (@ChrisCarmody) March 22, 2016
Hot Air suggested that since the Republican Party is a private entity, they could simply “have Reince Priebus handpick the nominee and there’s nothing legally anyone could do about it.”
However, Priebus has made clear that that will not happen. For instance, when he appeared on Hannity on April 4, the host questioned him about this possibility. Priebus responded that the rules of the party would not allow this–that in order for a candidate to be considered, he had to win at least eight state primaries, as per RNC rules.
“Our candidate’s going to be someone running,” Priebus said, referring to Trump, Cruz, and Ohio governor John Kasich.
Reince Priebus has served as RNC chairman since January, 2011. Since his ascension, Republicans lost the presidential race in 2012. Priebus responded by making numerous rule changes that would make it easier to pick a nominee during the primary process, as reported by CNN.
Priebus called it “a historic day for our party.” But at the time, neither Reince Priebus nor anyone else could have predicted that Donald Trump would enter the race–let alone the chaos that would ensue.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]