Aug. 11, 2016 11:16am Kaitlyn Schallhorn
Members of the movement to free the delegates from presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention failed, but their efforts haven’t completely subsided.
In email and phone calls to supporters of the anti-Trump movement, the group Free the Delegates has its sights set on another way to replace Trump as the party’s nominee — by invoking Republican National Committee rules that would allow members to replace the nominee aside from just “death, declination or otherwise” beginning with a written petition that includes signatures of at least 16 RNC members from 16 states.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump takes the stage Tuesday at the Trask Coliseum on the campus of University of North Carolina at Wilmington. (Getty Images/Chuck Liddy)
The group’s executive director, Regina Thompson, said that the effort was still “a work in progress like anything else of this nature is.”
“This is the only avenue left within the RNC rules,” Thompson said in an interview with TheBlaze. “We’re committed to working within the Republican Party process and this is the next step — and only step — left within the rules to change the nominee.”
The free-the-delegates movement has placed emphasis on the RNC rules that allow for it to fill “vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise” — with the “otherwise” clause serving as their catalyst. And in order to try to recall and replace Trump, they must get the RNC to hold a meeting by submitting a written petition with at least 16 committee members’ signatures from at least 16 states.
Thompson told TheBlaze that the group’s request and petition have been emailed to almost every RNC member and that the group is now in the process of following up with those members. Free the Delegates has sent emails to supporters to request volunteers for help in contacting members.
“We have no doubt the RNC will attempt to use the same muscle they used at the convention to arm twist people who actually are on board into taking their name off the petition,” Thompson said.
During the convention, supporters of a measure to unbind delegates from candidates — particularly from Trump — were ultimately unsuccessful in passing their proposal both with the all-powerful Rules Committee prior to the convention or on the convention floor. Free the Delegates supporters said then that convention officials unfairly stifled their efforts.
“I understand that this is a process, and I understand that we might not win this war, but we have to keep trying,” she continued. “We have to exhaust every avenue that is available to us.”
Due to polling and Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail, Thompson members of the group “firmly believe” that the bombastic Manhattan billionaire will “crash in November.”
“If he is not elected, we don’t want anyone in the RNC to come back and look at us and say, ‘You people out there nominated him, it’s your fault.’ No, it’s not because we’ve taken every avenue out there available to us to tell you that he’s a flawed candidate and we need to take a different path,” Thompson said. “So we want to prevail, but we also want to make sure we don’t leave any stone unturned.”
Thompson said the group is not pushing for an alternative candidate and will not encourage conservatives to leave the Republican Party or vote for a third party. Instead, they are hoping for a different Republican nominee to prevail.
A RNC representative did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon, but spokesman Sean Spicer told the Associated Press that anti-Trump voters have a “credibility problem” following their failed efforts at last month’s convention in Cleveland.
“This is the same story over and over again,” he said.
But a Republican source in the group placed the blame for the movement’s lack of success at the convention on former GOP presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas).
“Unfortunately the free-the-delegates crowd — a group of strong conservatives — was led off a cliff by a smarmy, phony conservative driven by ambition rather than principle, and a consultant class jilted by an outsider, and the result may well be a third term for Barack Obama,” the source said.
Regardless of where the blame falls for the fight at the convention — whether it be on Cruz, the RNC or the free-the-delegates supporters themselves — Thompson said those in her organization remain committed to fighting against Trump by using the RNC rules.