I’m a pretty healthy guy. But I had a bad sinus headache this afternoon and went to rest in the TPM nap room. I left with boring speakers droning on the platform in Cleveland. I come back and all hell’s broken loose. If you’re just tuning in, anti-Trump delegates seemed to have enough signatures to force a roll call vote on the convention rules. This is miles aways from denying Trump the nomination. But it would be an embarrassing demonstration of anti-Trump strength and the kind of disruption no convention planner ever wants. (You can see video of chanting on the floor which TPM’s Tierney Sneed took on the floor as it was all happening.)
We’re still trying to piece together just what happened. But it seems at least that convention planners, seeing that the anti-Trump forces had gathered enough signatures to force an embarrassing vote, simply ditched the rules and moved on. We don’t know that happened. The question turns on the RNC organizers’ claim that three states pulled out of the demand at the last moment. (‘States’ in theory could change their mind with a small number of delegates switching positions.) The RNC folks just asserted that without saying just how that happened or who had done what.
Our team (and a lot of other teams) are now trying to figure out precisely what happened and whether the Trump/RNC forces just played hardball and got what they needed – bullying a few delegates into withdrawing their signatures – or whether they just broke the conventions rules, as the anti-Trump folks are claiming. If and when we find out we’ll tell you. But the folks who know have a strong interest in never releasing the information. So don’t wait up late.
Meanwhile, because he’s a bully and completely lacks any impulse control, Donald Trump has taken to Twitter blaming CNN for the debacle. The saving grace for the Trump/RNC folks is that this happened in the late afternoon on the East Coast, while most people are still at work. I should stress again: this doesn’t remotely touch the possibility of Trump being denied the nomination or any substantial issue being affected. The problem is that conventions are usually and are intended to be news free events. That’s how you get people to watch the feel good or feel bad speeches with no reporters being able to come up with anything interesting to report. Even though this won’t change Trump getting the nomination, it’s a great story and plays to everything we know about Trumpism. It seems likely to dominate coverage, at least for a while.
Meanwhile, it’s just been reported that the Trump/RNC folks have announced that they won’t be releasing the names of the delegates who allegedly withdrew their signatures. So I’d say that likely resolves the question above about whether the RNC just ditched its rules in a pinch. The whole little debacle perfectly captures Trumpism: incompetence, rule-breaking and derp, each in equal measures.