It was apparent from Mitt Romney’s tirade against Donald Trump today that the old political juices had begun to flow and that Romney was willing to make a try for the nomination once again.
But not via the primary route. It’s far too late for that. Instead, Romney was urging Republicans to support the candidate in their primary that had the best chance to deny Donald Trump delegates.
His goal is to blow up the Republican National Convention in Cleveland by keeping Trump under the magic number of 1,237 delegates, preventing him from winning a majority and a first ballot nomination. Romney believes that when the dust settles, the party will turn to him to lead Republicans to victory in November.
Such are the dreams of old men and failed candidates. But with Trump poised to end any possibility of a challenger catching him by the end of the month, more and more establishment Republican donors and professionals are eying the convention as their Alamo.
Mitt Romney has instructed his closest advisers to explore the possibility of stopping Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention, a source close to Romney’s inner circle says.
The 2012 GOP nominee’s advisers are examining what a fight at the convention might look like and what rules might need revising.
“It sounds like the plan is to lock the convention,” said the source.
Romney is focused on suppressing Trump’s delegate count to prevent him from accumulating the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination.
But implicit in Romney’s request to his team to explore the possibility of a convention fight is his willingness to step in and carry the party’s banner into the fall general election as the Republican nominee. Another name these sources mentioned was House Speaker Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate in 2012.
You don’t have to read too far between the lines of the speech Romney gave Thursday at the University of Utah to see the imprint of this plan. He urged voters to support the candidate most likely to prevent Trump from racking up delegates in their states — saying he’d back Florida Sen. Marco Rubio if he were voting in the Sunshine State, Gov. John Kasich if he were voting in Ohio, or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the states where he polls as Trump’s strongest foe.
“If the other candidates can find common ground, I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism,” Romney said.
According to the source, Romney does not expect Rubio, Cruz or Kasich to emerge as the single candidate that can accumulate 1,237 delegates and outright defeat Trump before the convention. So the only way to rob Trump of a victory would be to keep him from reaching that magic 1,237 number.
Most Republican states allocate their delegates proportionally, or in a hybrid format that gives delegates both to the statewide winner and at the congressional district level. This means rather than winnowing the competition down to a single Trump alternative, it could make more sense for all of the current candidates to stay in the race for a stop Trump movement, according to one source.
For this sort of scenario to happen, the three alternative candidates to Trump would have to continue to receive funding from their donor base long after they had been eliminated. I doubt too many donors are willing to give millions of dollars to a candidate with no chance of winning the nomination. This is one reason why the Koch brothers have decided not to donate to any anti-Trump SuperPac. Not only is effort very likely to fail, but it would be counterproductive.
All that Romney and his friends would accomplish by stealing the nomination from Trump would be to hand the election to Hillary Clinton in November and probably finish off the Republican Party as a national entity. In their minds, that might be a small price to pay to deny the nomination to a man they see as dangerous.