Delegates leading the charge to stop Donald Trump’s nomination at next week’s Republican National Convention were smacked down in a Thursday Rules Committee vote that would have allowed them to vote their conscience.
Ardent Trump opponent Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) gave a speech in support of unbinding the delegates, accusing the real estate tycoon of silencing their voices.
“I hope that whoever our nominee will be this time will in fact win over the delegates,” Lee said, according to Buzzfeed News.
“This problem, this angst, as we will see in a few days isn’t going to go away just because we paper over it with rules,” Lee said. “So I say to Mr. Trump and those aligned with him, make the case, make the case to those delegates who want to have a voice, make the case that they should use their voice to support him. Don’t make the case that their voices should be silenced.”
Lee supported the “conscience clause” proposed by Kendal Unruh, a Colorado delegate who led the Free the Delegates Movement. The movement focused on changing party rules so that delegates could “unbind” themselves and support a candidate of their choosing.
“The right to conscience isn’t just something we’ve decided is a cool idea,” Unruh told the room, according to Buzzfeed. “It’s something that’s the basis of our nation.”
The anti-Trump delegates fell far short of the 28 votes needed to move the conscience clause amendment from the rules committee to a broader vote at the convention itself. They also lost a vote against binding delegates.
Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort sent a tweet applauding the results after the late-night votes were in.
Anti-Trump people get crushed at Rules Committee. It was never in doubt: Convention will honor will of people & nominate @realdonaldtrump.
— Paul Manafort (@PaulManafort) July 15, 2016
Lee said he wasn’t abandoning hope, however. He told Buzzfeed that people shouldn’t “assume the problem’s gonna go away,” leaving the possibility open for some sort of last-ditch delegate action on the convention floor.