Election 2020

RNC Chairman: 'Nothing Nefarious' About Convention Process

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus stressed that there’s “nothing nefarious” about the convention system that could be a contested convention this year, as “it’s not a matter of number one vote getter; it is you have to have a majority of delegates.”

And if Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) walks away from the convention in protest, all of their pledged delegates could become free agents on the first vote.

“That’s why you have to play it aboveboard,” Priebus explained on Hannity last night. “…The truth is, is that if a candidate were to drop out, those delegates would become unbound, Sean. So you would still not be able to count that delegate as a bound delegate. So it’s still up to the candidate themselves to accumulate a majority of bound delegates before the convention. So dropping out wouldn’t create a bounty of bound delegates. It would simply create more unbound delegates that are basically free agents on the floor.”

“…That’s why it’s really important for the party to play it straight, to not play games, to be transparent and say these are going to be the rules, and when the time comes that we know whether we’re going to have an open convention or not, that everyone understands moving forward that the preparations are being made, everyone’s included in those conversations. And when you get to Cleveland, if that were to happen, you want people to at least say, when they walk away, OK, they played it straight. That’s what’s really important in this process.”

And then there are the state rules within the convention. All of North Dakota’s delegates, for example, come into the area unbound and free to vote for anyone on the first ballot.

“But I can assure you that if you have the majority of bound delegates, you’re going to be the nominee. One person’s opinion can’t change that,” the chairman said. “…And all of these stories are going to continue, and everyone’s going to have opinions and they’re going to get people stirred up. But those delegates will vote on the first ballot as they’re bound to vote under the law.”

If nobody gets to 1,237 on the first ballot, those delegates are “released” and free to vote for anyone on the second ballot — even someone who wasn’t running in the primaries.

Priebus said there’s no pressure on Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is counting on a contested convention vote for a shot at the nomination, to drop out now.

“I think that the governor can make his own decision. You know, obviously, what I would tell you is that if someone gets the majority of delegates, of bound delegates before the convention, they’re going to be the nominee. I mean, there’s just no — there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

“If someone doesn’t get the majority by the time you get to Cleveland, what is the procedure thereafter? … It is fair. I mean, the reality is, is that you have to get a majority of voting delegates on the floor to be the nominee.”