Trump Has Nothing to Fear from Freeing the Delegates……right?
One of the key themes leading up to the Republican National Convention has been the idea as to whether or not there would be a successful movement to “Free the Delegates.” The idea would be to allow all of the delegates to vote their conscience instead of being bound to vote in any particular matter. Many folks in the “Never Trump” movement have been working to allow the delegates to vote their conscience, something that has been opposed by the Trump campaign.
The decision whether or not to allow the delegates to vote their conscience is left up to the Convention Rules Committee. Maryland has two representatives on that committee; National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose and Jim Crawford, who was elected as a Trump delegate. I emailed both of them today to get their take on the situation.
Nicolee and Jim,
As Maryland’s representatives on the RNC Rules Committee, I’d like to ask you a simple question.
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Do you support allowing RNC Delegates the opportunity to vote their conscience at the convention? Why or why not?
As a matter of disclosure, I’ll let you know that any answer to this question will be reprinted verbatim on Red Maryland.
To date, I have not yet received a response from either member. But not too long after I emailed them the Baltimore Sun posted a story on this very topic, which contained some quotes from both Crawford and Ambrose:
Maryland is state where centrists have long dominated Republican politics, but it will be represented by some of the most die-hard Donald Trump supporters in the nation when the Republican Party meets this month to formally choose a presidential nominee.
The unusual system used by state Republicans to select their 38 presidential delegates to the party’s national convention has essentially locked out Trump naysayers, several observers said. That makes Maryland’s delegation more resistant to the barrage of proposed rule changes intended to undermine the presumptive nominee on the convention floor in Cleveland.
“We’re all hard core Trump people – we’re solid,” said Jim Crawford, a Trump delegate from Charles County and one of two Republicans from Maryland who will serve on the convention rules committee, which meets next week. “I was elected by people who pulled the lever with my name only because Trump’s name was beside it.”
The depth of commitment to Trump espoused by many Maryland delegates stands in contrast with the views expressed by the state’s GOP leaders, including Gov. Larry Hogan, who said last month that he will not vote for him
The loyalty means Maryland’s delegates are unlikely to support rule changes proposed by some conservative groups to, for instance, allow delegates to vote their “conscience” rather than being bound to support the candidate who won their state’s primary election.
Crawford’s comments certainly lend credence to the idea that he will oppose the conscience clause if it comes up.
Ambrose in her comments to the Sun was noncommital:
Nicolee Ambrose, the other Maryland delegate who will serve on the convention rules committee, said she wants to study the details of the “conscience rule” proposal before making a final decision, but said the candidate who wins the required number of delegates should win the nomination.
“I strongly believe that we are bound to the concept of rule of law,” said Ambrose, who is the state’s RNC national committeewoman. “I have a strong and healthy respect for anyone who can compete with 17 people and get through the process and win the required number of delegates.”
The bigger issue here, of course, is the fact that there is debate about allowing the delegates the opportunity to vote their conscience at all. Republican voters do not directly elect their Presidential candidate. Neither do the Democrats. Neither do the Libertarians. Delegates are elected and selected to do that job for them. The idea that delegates should be bound to a decision made by others is, quite frankly, absurd. It would be like tying the hands of our Senators, our Congressmen, or even or County Councilmen and forcing them to vote against their conscience on certain issues.
I’ll grant you the fact that Donald Trump won the most delegates in the primary process. I’ll grant you that Trump received more votes in Republican primaries than any candidate in history (even if 80% of them were from Democrats according to an analysis by Red State). But more Republicans voted against Donald Trump than any candidate in history too, and the fact of the matter is that at the present time Trump is not supported by over half of the Republican Party. He continues to run a campaign that is as idiotic as it is offensive, and he continues to say galactically stupid things at just the right time to distract from any negative press that Hillary Clinton receives. He’s still a liberal, he’s still opposes Republicans on any number of issues, and he’s still leading the GOP and the conservative movement to certain electoral disaster.
That takes us back to the idea to “Free the Delegates.” There has never been a better time to free the delegates because Trump, as noted, is a train wreck in every conceivable way. One of the arguments against freeing the delegates is that “the people have spoken.” OK, that’s true. The people have spoken (even if 80% of the people in this scenario may be Democrats). But those people voted for delegates that were loyal to Trump as well. If those people are loyal to Trump, if those delegates are going to do the will of the people that elected them and they truly support Donald Trump for President, the Trump Campaign would have nothing to worry about in freeing the delegates. Their best political move would be to throw the Never Trump crowd a bone, free the delegates, and watch the delegates elect him as the Republican nominee.
Unless Trump and his campaign think that the Delegates would reject him, something that would only be possible if the Delegates were unbound. Given Trump’s disastrous poll numbers, cheerleading of Saddam Hussein, and wink-and-nod to anti-Semites and white supremacists, I’d be willing to bet that the majority of delegates do not find him to be the ideal messenger for these times.
The right thing to do is for the Convention Rules Committee to free the delegates and let the chips fall where they may. At the very least Maryland’s representatives on Convention Rules, Ambrose and Crawford, should stand up for the freedom of conscience and support freeing the delegates to vote for whom they choose. Not because of Trump, but because Republicans are the party of individualism and liberty. It’s the right thing to do.