Can Trump close the deal in Cleveland?
Thanks to Ted Cruz’s primary win in Wisconsin, it’s now all but certain the Republican convention is going to be contested.
Donald Trump is going to come close to winning the delegates he’d need to win the nomination on the first ballot, but I don’t see him getting the GOP cigar. Someone else will, I’m guessing. And don’t be shocked if his initials are not TC or JK.
The big question for right now is how the conventioneers in Cleveland and the Republicans watching on TV will react when their party’s intramural cage match is over. Will those who saw their man knocked out of the ring act like adults or will they get angry, stomp out and not show up to vote for the GOP nominee in November?
As I said last week, it’s time for Republicans to relax and let the nominating process play out. It’s not time to unite behind a Cruz, a Kasich or a Trump. It’s too late for any of them to throw in their towels. Even Kasich, the one everybody but him agrees should have quit a dozen states ago, has a chance to win at a contested or deadlocked convention.
Most people can’t imagine what a contested convention will be like, but I can. I was at the last one in 1976, when my father and his team did everything they could to stop a sitting Republican president from getting the number of delegates he needed.
To stop Gerald Ford my father tried to get delegates by shaking up the delegations from New York and Pennsylvania anyway they could. Before the convention he said he’d pick Pennsylvania’s liberal Republican Senator Richard Schweiker. The Reagan team also schmoozed and badgered the New York delegates so hard it drove Gov. Nelson Rockefeller mad. At one point he ripped a phone out of the floor of the convention stage and, emitting a string of obscenities, threw it halfway across the hall.
It’s a rough and tumble business, folks. It’s not for pansies. It’s for people who want to get fully engaged in the cantankerous and raucous and riotous process of nominating a president.
My father fought hard in 1976 but he lost that process. His people fought hard too. After all the backroom deals and fights over rules, they were disappointed and went home angry.
But in November they did the right thing. They united behind the party’s nominee and showed up at the polls to vote for Ford.
My father did the right thing too. Before the convention in Kansas City ended he stood up and supported Ford. Then he campaigned for him all over the country.
The lesson here is that you don’t get so angry about your guy losing that you don’t vote for the other guy who wins. The process is the process. Your guy might have the most delegates going into the convention, but if he doesn’t have at least 1,237 delegates, it’s not enough. Them’s the rules.
To win the nomination at a contested convention, your guy’s got to start making deals. Maybe with the Rubio delegates or the Kasich delegates or the Cruz delegates. If anyone should understand this, it’s Donald Trump. He’s the guy who keeps telling us he’s the greatest dealmaker on the planet and can’t wait to start making trade deals with the Chinese and the Mexicans. He’s the brilliant business guy, in case you haven’t heard him say it since noon, who wrote “The Art of the Deal” in 1987.
If he’s incapable of making a deal at the Republican convention to win the delegates he needs to clinch the nomination, maybe the GOP should look for the real author of “The Art of the Deal.” Because apparently it wasn’t the Donald.
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