Despite ever-increasing resistance to his looney campaign, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump remains on the right path to win the Republican nomination. But in fighting what he views as a corrupt establishment, his campaign has engaged in rampant bullying to get delegates’ support.
A few days ago, Joe Uddo, a former Ben Carson aide who is now working for the Trump campaign, went to Delaware to pressure the state’s 16 Republican delegates to support Trump, should this summer’s convention go to a second ballot and they become freed to support whomever they’d like. It turns out he may have pushed too hard. According to Politico, the delegates complained that Uddo was abrasive from his first phone call, criticizing the state party’s delegate rules and threatening Twitter reprisals from Trump.
“One of our delegates is just a little old lady,” said an anonymous source to Politico. “This is not cigar chomping, tobacco spitting guys with three piece suits. These are just normal Delawareans, hardworking, retirees.”
In a deeply Democratic state, Republicans have a much smaller, less professional batch of potential delegates to draw from. Delegates are often older party faithfuls with a track record of helping Republicans get elected in the state.
Despite counting as one of the smallest primary prizes of the election cycle, Trump is keen on winning over as many of Delaware’s delegates as he can. But the arm twisting employed by his campaign could result in delegates not honoring the primary results beyond the first ballot.
Uddo wasn’t the first Trump surrogate to use coercion to pressure the delegates necessary to win the nomination on a second ballot. In early April, Trump surrogate Roger Stone said he would publish the hotel room numbers of delegates who were planning on voting against Trump at the convention on a second ballot, if they had been pledged to him on the first ballot.
“We’re going to have protests, demonstrations. We will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal… I have urged Trump supporters: Come to Cleveland, march on Cleveland, join us in the Forest City,” said Stone.
There is a widespread fear among Trump supporters that anything beyond a first ballot contest would spell the end of his campaign, effectively stealing the nomination from him, they say. In Wyoming, Ted Cruz secured all 14 delegates up for grabs at the state’s Republican convention. The Texas senator had previously won the state’s popular vote, receiving 9 of 12 delegates.
The troubled, and potentially short-lived Kasich-Cruz coordination effort is another attempt by #NeverTrump Republicans to stop him from securing the nomination.
This war, between Trump supporters and the so-called Republican establishment, has been brewing for months, the latter clearly alarmed by the rise of the former. Polls have repeatedly shown the party would lose in a landslide with a Trump ticket. The divide has been further exacerbated by Trump’s accusations of corruption in the political process, which he has tied to his outsider status.
“You’re basically buying these people,” he said. “You’re basically saying, ‘Delegate, listen, we’re going to send you to Mar-a-Lago on a Boeing 757, you’re going to use the spa, you’re going to this, you’re going to that, we want your vote.’ That’s a corrupt system.”
Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to give a victory speech after the Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri primary elections during a news conference held at his Mar-A-Lago Club, in Palm Beach, Florida March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper