Leaders in the Republican National Committee have begun an effort to effectively rig the primary for Donald Trump, declaring that his two victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, which has given him a whopping 15 delegate lead in the race to the 1,215 needed to clinch the nomination is enough despite there being 48 state primaries left.
This undermines Trump’s argument that he’s “anti-establishment” more than anything any of his opponents have said. That doesn’t even account for the idea of “rigging” an election.
The draft resolution, obtained by The Dispatch Thursday morning, was proposed by David Bossie, an RNC committeeman from Maryland and close Trump ally. His effort to put the national party on a general election footing behind Trump follows RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel saying after the former president defeated Haley in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary that it was time for Republicans to unite behind the frontrunner and focus on defeating President Joe Biden.
“RESOLVED that the Republican National Committee hereby declares President Trump as our presumptive 2024 nominee for the office of President of the United States and from this moment forward moves into full general election mode welcoming supporters of all candidates as valued members of Team Trump 2024,” reads a key portion of the draft resolution.
Under current RNC rules, Trump still has to win the requisite number of nominating convention delegates—1,215—to become the party’s unchallenged presumptive nominee. After the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, Trump leads Haley in the race for delegates 32 to 17.
But passage of this resolution, possibly next week at the RNC winter meeting in Las Vegas, could begin a preemptive process of the national party working with the former president as if he had already done so. And under RNC rules, that is permissible. This resolution, even in draft form, also functions as another sign that the GOP establishment is anxious to coalesce behind Trump and put an end to a presidential primary that, after his victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, the former president looks poised to win.
It’s never good when Republicans start acting like Democrats. Last year, Florida Democrats announced they would not allow any challengers to President Biden on the ballot. The move came after the Democratic National Committee moved its primary schedule around in order to place states where Biden is more popular at the beginning of the primary calendar.
The proposal has received the ire of several conservative commentators and activists. For example, Ben Shapiro, the founder of The Federalist, laid into the hypocritical plan as showing weakness for Trump.
Why are they acting scared? This is stupid. If you think you're going to crush Nikki in 3-4 weeks, why do the equivalent of yelling STOP THE COUNT! https://t.co/w1yO94IG6A
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) January 25, 2024
Other social media users pointed out how this move could only hurt Trump.
What is this supposed to achieve other than telling a portion of Republican voters, all of whom Republicans desperately need to show up in November, that the Trump establishment doesn't value their voice or votes? https://t.co/KRmG8ZQSRV
— AG (@AGHamilton29) January 25, 2024
“A silly resolution to say he is the presumptive nominee, insulting to millions of primary voters who wait for the opportunity to get involved in presidential politics every four years,” the Trump critic close to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told Fox News Digital.
“Another example of Trump’s authoritarian streak. ‘We don’t need Super Tuesday or any other primaries, I’ll just have it handed to me,’” he added.
A Haley spokesperson brushed off the proposal when asked about it by NBC News.
“Who cares what the RNC says? We’ll let millions of Republican voters across the country decide who should be our party’s nominee, not a bunch of Washington insiders,” the spokesperson explained. “If Ronna McDaniel wants to be helpful she can organize a debate in South Carolina, unless she’s also worried that Trump can’t handle being on the stage for 90 minutes with Nikki Haley.”
So far, Trump has refused to debate anyone.
NBC News continued, “A source familiar with the Republican Party’s rules noted that the term ‘presumptive nominee’ doesn’t come with any official meaning or resources under party rules. And the resolution, while it calls for the RNC to move ‘into full general election mode’ doesn’t require the party to take any specific, tangible steps to aid Trump.
There’s precedent for the party to declare a “presumptive nominee” and begin the tangible work of merging the campaign and the national party before the summer. In late April 2012, then-RNC Chairman Reince Priebus declared Mitt Romney the party’s ‘presumptive nominee,’ adding that the designation was ‘beyond an endorsement. It is a complete merger wherein the RNC is putting all of its resources and energy behind Mitt Romney,’ according to the Los Angeles Times. However, the GOP nominating contest was significantly further along by that point, with nearly all of Romney’s competitors having already dropped out.
The same source familiar with the party’s rules added that the decision to merge those resources is left to the chair of the party. But while the resolution itself may not trigger any formal shift in resources, the result would be a declaration from RNC members to McDaniel about how they may want her to handle the coming weeks or months — caught between a former president who is seen as a heavy favorite for the GOP nomination and a second-place candidate, Haley, who has won almost 30% of the delegates allocated in the first two races of the nomination.”
McDaniel has already been accused of putting her thumb on the scale. “Looking at the math and the path going forward, I don’t see it for Nikki Haley,” the RNC chairman said in an interview. “I think she’s run a great campaign, but I do think there is a message that’s coming out from the voters which is very clear: We need to unite around our eventual nominee, which is going to be Donald Trump, and we need to make sure we beat Joe Biden.”
Donald Trump said that he appreciated the resolution, but believes that the voters need to decide.