By JOSH MITCHELL – – – –
The head of the Republican Party on Sunday sought to prepare the party for a contested convention, a shift that reflects growing unease among many in the party with the prospect of a Donald Trump nomination.
Speaking on several of the Sunday talk shows, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said the party is actively “preparing for the possibility” that the party’s presidential nominee will be chosen by delegates through a series of ballots at the July convention in Cleveland. Such a scenario occurs when no candidate wins a majority of delegates—1,237 in this case—through the state primaries and caucuses.
Mr. Priebus said such a scenario wouldn’t be “nefarious” and that he would begin a campaign to demystify the process of a contested convention for the public. “This is a delegate-driven process,” Mr. Priebus said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The votes that happen in the states enfranchise the delegates to go to the floor and vote. No one’s disenfranchised. In fact they’re empowered by the delegates they receive.”
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Priebus further dismissed the idea that voters would be disenfranchised if Mr. Trump, the clear front-runner, doesn’t ultimately win.
“A plurality is a minority and a minority doesn’t choose for the majority,” Mr. Priebus said. “You have to have a majority of the delegates in order to be the nominee.”
Mr. Priebus previously played down the idea of a brokered convention. Earlier this month, Mr. Priebus told activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference that a contested convention was “highly, highly unlikely” and that “the people are going to decide.”
A candidate must get a majority of delegates to win the party nomination.
Mr. Trump has the support of millions of grass-roots voters, but many GOP leaders oppose his policy positions and fear he would set the party up for a loss in November’s general election.
Mr. Trump, also speaking on “This Week,” said he was confident he would get a majority of delegates by July. He warned that a brokered convention that denies him the nomination would “disenfranchise” millions of voters, including some Democrats and independents who have supported him and who, he said, would help the party win in November if he is the nominee.
Mr. Trump, addressing recent violence at his events, added that while many of his supporters are fervent, he would tell them to avoid violence if he doesn’t win. “I don’t want to see riots, I don’t want to see problems,” Mr. Trump said.
Both Gov. Kasich and Sen. Cruz are building their strategy around the possibility of a party fight in Cleveland this summer, a scenario that hasn’t played out within either party in generations.
Mr. Kasich said a contested convention would help the party choose the nominee best positioned to win in November. “What’s everybody so panicked about this? Everybody needs to take a chill pill,” Mr. Kasich said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The Ohio governor said that of the three main GOP candidates remaining, he would be the likeliest to defeat Hillary Clinton, who is leading the race for the Democratic Party’s nomination.”