The Anti-Trump Rebellion at RNC Gets One Last Gasp, Then Dies

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Republican National Convention: Day One
Sen. Mike Lee, (R-UT) and Phil Wright, vice chair of the Utah State Delegation, shout no to the adoption of rules without a roll-call vote on the first day of the RNC.Photo: Chip Somodevilla

A final, defiant gesture that could be viewed as the ghost of what might have been a contested convention, protests against the convention rules, and the party platform has expired.

The rules rebellion at least achieved a death rattle. A scattered group of delegates — mostly from states where Ted Cruz beat Donald Trump handily in either the primaries and caucuses or delegate selection — failed to come up with the 28 votes on the Rules Committee needed to file a minority report (which could have led to a floor vote on unbinding delegates), and then failed to force a roll-call vote on the rules on the convention floor. They did, however, make enough noise during two voice votes to give bored reporters a sign of disunity to write about.   

The “rules rebels” were a coalition of two slightly overlapping groups of delegates. Some originally wanted to unbind delegates from the primary and caucus results in order to thwart Trump’s nomination. Others (especially Ted Cruz supporters) wanted rules for the next nominating cycle that would strengthen the grip of grassroots conservatives on the GOP at the expense of the RNC and Democratic and independent voters in Republican open primaries.

They did manage to unite long enough to assemble nine delegations — one more than the required eight — petitioning for a roll-call vote on the rules, which might have given some rebel delegation chairs an opportunity to explain their position, and would have embarrassed and inconvenienced the Trump campaign and convention organizers, who are already struggling to deal with a belatedly organized event. But then a lengthy musical interlude transpired during which Trump whips in their bright-yellow hats were seen intensely lobbying delegates. Afterward, with the rebels chanting “roll-call vote,” a Utah delegate was recognized to request that very thing, and the chair announced three of the nine petitioning states had “withdrawn,” leaving the rebels one state short of the minimum required.

Thus probably died any palpable signs of protest from within the hall of Trump’s convention.

As though to signify this transition, the benediction for the afternoon session, from an African-American minister from South Carolina, announced that Trump and Republicans, as believers in Jesus Christ, had a divine mission to smite the “enemy,” Hillary Clinton and the “liberal Democrats.”