Donald Trump and his delegates are the vortex of events set to roll out at the Republican National Convention. Will those who already voted for the GOP presidential front-runner remain loyal to him?
ABC News reports that the shrewd businessman that Trump is, he’s not going to let his delegates go so easy.
A large part of the battle has revolved around trying to sway delegates and supporters via emails to secure crucial votes. Another element of their mission consists of a five-person task force secretly attempting to lock in the 1,237 votes needed.
“You try to learn as much as you can about everybody and figure out what makes them tick, what it is they think is important,” said Barry Bennett, a Trump Senior Adviser.
Bennett said the campaign taps into their “woo-ability” and if they can be wooed, they will be, and “are going to get to know Donald Trump.”
Three-Quarters of GOP Voters Back Donald Trump Nomination, if He Gets Most Delegates – https://t.co/FVxNQJAAau
— SheilaK (@smkatko1) March 16, 2016
Rival campaigns and anti-Trump activists have already begun the process of filling low-level delegate slots in states which have already voted in order to get themselves elected to the national convention. As the report states about Donald Trump delegates, they can vote against him and support another candidate in a contested convention. This takes place if Trump doesn’t already reach the required 1,237 delegates needed before the first ballot.
In an NBC News interview, Bennett said there are 40 days between the last primary and the convention. That’s the time “to go woo the appropriate number of unbound delegates.” He continued that there’s a chance to “put together 50 or 75 delegates to win on the first ballot.” Bennett calls that “Phase One.”
Emails are circulating in Michigan alerting supporters to watch for precinct-level delegates who may defect to a rival candidate during a contested convention.
“Are they a true Donald Trump supporter?” one of the questions in the emails asks. “Many impostors that are actually aligned with the establishment will emerge from the woodwork and try to throw off the process.”
A separate email to supporters and delegates outlines heavily detailed parliamentary procedure strategies that even gives instructions on how to remove the chair of the convention. It also instructs precinct-level delegates to record audio or video of their local conventions.
“If we are going to make credential claims, we must have proof and evidence,” reads the email. “Do not be intimidated by a bully chair, you have every right to record the caucus.”
In one instance, there’s a woman who’s set to represent Trump as a delegate at the convention, but was a critic of his campaign due to his feud with Fox News host, Megyn Kelly. Stella Kozanecki, 80, changed her position on Trump because she agreed with his immigration and military policy. Hence, when the Trump campaign called on her to run as a Trump delegate to the national convention later on, she agreed.
Another Donald Trump delegate — Doug Hartmann, Sr. — got a call from the Trump campaign after buying a “Make America Great Again” hat from his online store.
“Somebody called and asked if I would be interested in being a delegate to the convention for Trump. And I said yes,” Hartmann, Sr. said.
Kozanecki and Hartmann are two of the 1,237 votes that Trump depends on to win the Republican nomination in Cleveland this July.
— The Majority Awakens (@DefendingtheUSA) March 24, 2016
In the days preceding the winner-take-all states of Florida and Ohio, Trump’s campaign organized a five-person task force to make it happen.
“The delegate process keeps you up at night — defending your delegates, maintaining your delegates,” Bennett said.
Senior Adviser Ed Brookover manages the team and says they’re confident they’ll exceed the 1,237 delegate votes to win.
“We are not going to get outsmarted on the issue,” Bennett said. Rival campaigns are adopting similar strategies to take votes away from Trump.
The group assembles everyday to consult with campaign legal advisers, ballot access team, and state directors to discuss timelines and important deadlines in addition to deployment of resources on the ground. The group at that point has a weekly call with top campaign leadership for updates.
According to the report, about eight-in-10 delegate slots to the Republican convention have yet to be filled; nearly two-thirds of the delegates have now been alloted for candidates.
The majority of the team’s discussion focuses on a strategy towards a small number of unbound delegates — about 130 — who could make all the difference in whether Trump reaches the total needed.
The unbound delegates are the ones that Trump’s team is targeting.
“If you are an unbound delegate, you are going to get to know Donald Trump. If we have to do this hand-to-hand we will do it hand-to-hand,” Bennett said. “In the end all these unbound delegates want to be with the winner. They want more money for their state party, they want the president to come visit their state – they are going to choose who it is they think is going to win.”
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 25, 2016
These delegates are from states like North Dakota and Pennsylvania, with some delegates who supported candidates who’ve since dropped out of the race; they can vote however they want even on the first ballot. The key is getting those slots filled with Trump delegates, but it also requires “an extensive ground game.”
Donald Trump’s campaign is relentless in its effort to secure his nomination by sending a series of emails and making multiple phone calls.
To hear several experts tell it, there’s no Republican National Committee rules that prohibit political negotiating between campaigns and delegates on the floor of the GOP convention in Cleveland. A rules expert tells ABC News that these transactions don’t violate any rules. The expert goes on to reveal that they “may see some of the campaigns implement aggressive first ballot and multi-ballot strategies to peel off delegates.”
While I believe I will clinch before Cleveland and get more than 1237 delegates, it is unfair in that there have been so many in the race!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2016
One restriction that could come into play is an Ohio state law on bribery since delegates aren’t elected public officials.
“Since the First Amendment protects most of what we call politics, it would really be in a very narrow category of instances where bribery would be triggered,” another rules expert explained. “Obviously in politics there’s horse-trading, and that’s not corruption.”
As it stands, Donald Trump has 739 delegates, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has 465, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has 143.
[AP Photo/Matt York, File]