From Cleveland, Ohio –
With party leaders still struggling for more unity behind Donald Trump, the 2016 Republican National Convention began instead with more discord, as critics of Trump used a fight over the convention rules to voice their displeasure, only to see GOP leaders – and Trump – prevail.
The fight over the rules spilled on to the floor in the first few hours of the Republican convention, despite the best efforts of the RNC and the Trump campaign, which tried hard to prevent any signs of trouble.
It was the last ditch effort of anti-Trump forces, who had tried for weeks to find a way first to allow delegates to support any candidate, and then in the end wanted to use the rules vote to showcase opposition to Trump.
But as in previous showdowns, the anti-Trump delegates were outnumbered and did not have the support of senior Republican officials, dooming their effort.
At first, Republican leaders rushed through the rules package on a voice vote. Delegates immediately began screaming, as officials actually left the stage for a few minutes while delegates yelled at each other, for and against Trump.
Then the chair, Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) returned to the podium, and invited anti-Trump forces to ask for a roll call vote on the rules.
At that point, Womack announced that while nine states had originally asked for a vote – three had withdrawn that request – dropping that to six, less than the seven needed for a roll call.
That drew more screaming from the convention floor.
Earlier in the day, delegates had been warned specifically not to do anything out of order on the floor of the convention, as the whip operation for Trump tried to make sure nothing went awry.
At the morning meeting of Georgia’s GOP delegation, delegates there were told to look at the back of their tickets, and the rules that govern those in attendance at the GOP convention.
“The ticket holder agrees to abide by all relevant rules of order and decorum in the convention hall, and acknowledges that the ticket holder may be removed from the convention hall for engaging in behavior that threatens the safety, general order of the convention as determined by security personnel, convention officers and/or the Republican National Committee.”
Brandon Phillips, part of the Trump whip team, and the campaign director for Donald Trump in Georgia, spelled out to delegates what good behavior meant:
“In other words, you behave – you can have a good time and enjoy the party. You don’t behave, they get taken out. Georgia I’m sure is gonna be great, we’re going to be fine. Some other delegations that I think have been trying to make the news. Long story short – if you would share that with folks who may not have read the fine print on the back, and your neighbors next door, that would be great,” Phillips said.
“We want to make sure everybody knows, and want to have a good pep rally for our nominee for President,” he added.
The first day started slow on unity – we’ll see how the rest of the convention goes.