WASHINGTON, June 17, 2016 — Dozens of delegates who will be attending the Republican convention in Cleveland next month are launching a new strategy to keep GOP nominee Donald Trump from becoming the GOP nominee in the general election.
The delegates launched their campaign following comments by Trump on gun control and his apparently racist comments about a federal judge. They believe they can recruit enough like-minded Republicans to change party rules and allow delegates to vote for whomever they want, regardless of who won their state primary or caucus.
The campaign is called the “Anybody but Trump” movement. One leader of the campaign is Kendal Unruh, a GOP delegate from Colorado. This wave of anti-Trump sentiment comes as numerous GOP leaders announce they will not support a Trump campaign. In a press release, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that House Republicans should “follow their conscience” on whether to support Trump.
Ryan announced his endorsement of Trump a few weeks ago, then distanced himself from the candidate following Trump’s comments about Judge Curiel. Trump released a statement dismissing the fight against him.
“I won almost 14 million votes, which is by far more votes than any candidate in the history of the Republican primaries,” Trump said. “I have tremendous support and get the biggest crowds by far and any such move would not only be totally illegal but also a rebuke of the millions of people who feel so strongly about what I am saying.”
This is not the first attempt to thwart Trump. Previous attempts quickly fizzled, but this new battle revives the possibility of a contested convention. However, the plan to unbind the delegates requires support from a majority of the convention rules committee, which meets July 14 and 15, days before the convention officially starts. If accepted by the committee, the proposal would have to be approved by a majority of convention delegates.
Delegates have aired concern about “intimidation tactics” employed by Trump and several state GOP leaders. A team of established Republican operatives are also launching a $2.5 million advertising campaign reminding delegates they can do whatever they want. Republican leaders associated with this campaign against Trump continue to say they are not attempting to recruit Cruz, Kasich or Ryan to be their candidate.
If the convention is contested, the GOP may lose millions of Trump supporters in November. Appointing a new nominee stops the momentum that the current nominee has generated within the Republican Party, among independents and even across the aisle.