CLEVELAND — The floor of the Republican convention erupted in pandemonium Monday as rebel delegates clashed with Donald Trump campaign officials and GOP leaders over the rules package that would govern his nomination for president later this week as well as the 2020 nominating process.
Republican National Committee officials, in concert with the Trump campaign’s convention operation, successfully put down the rebellion, stoking more grassroots anger in the process.
The coalition of rebel delegates, joined by delegates who support Trump’s nomination but opposed other portions of the rules package, submitted signatures to the convention secretary to support a motion for a floor vote over the rules package approved earlier Monday. Some rebels sought rules to unbind delegates and possibly let them vote for someone other than Trump, while others focussed on the 2020 contest.
Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, acting as presiding officer over the convention, called up the rules package, and said he would move to a voice vote. Many delegates from a few states began shouting “objection.” After some yelling, Womack simply left the stage. At this point, Virginia delegate Ken Cuccinelli, an ally of Sen. Ted Cruz, threw his credentials on the floor and began to walk away, before his allies roped him back in.
Womack returned after a few moments and called for a voice vote. Womack deemed that the Ayes had passed. The insurgent delegates responded loudly with chants of “shame” and “roll call vote.”
Loyal Trump delegates, which comprise the majority of the convention, responded even louder with chants of “USA, USA.”
For several moments, the floor was chaotic as both factions screamed at each other, a scene not seen on the floor a major party political convention in several years. Cuccinelli, the commonwealth’s former attorney general, stood angrily demanding the chair recognize him so that he could call for a roll call vote, but was rebuffed.
The delegations that submitted the required signatures to force a roll call vote on the alternate rules package included Wyoming, Minnesota, Utah, Colorado, Virginia, Iowa, Maine, Washington, D.C.; and Washington state. A majority of delegates from seven delegations were required to force a floor vote on alternate rules.
A sophisticated whip operation assembled by the RNC and the Trump campaign had lobbied signatories to pull out of the petition. Virginia delegate Waverly Woods told the Examiner that five Trump campaign officials lobbied her to pull her name from the petition. Woods, a Trump supporter who nonetheless wanted a floor vote, was unmoved. But the party whip operation won enough delegates from Maine, D.C., Iowa and Minnesota to withdraw their signatures. The insurgency no longer was able to force a floor vote. A Trump campaign source confirmed the list of delegations that were successfully lobbied.
Meanwhile, that spurred another round of catcalls between both factions, as the floor of Quicken Loans Arena grew heated. The Colorado delegation, stacked with delegates loyal to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who was the last candidate against Trump in the primary, staged a temporary walk-out.
The Rules Committee formally approved the rules package in a quick meeting of the rules committee that meet just after the Republican convention gaveled to order on Monday. In the meeting, whips threatened and in some cases berated rebellious delegates.
Initially, delegates told the Examiner that the secretary was in hiding and being guarded by security to avoid receiving the petitions in a sufficient period of time. But they now say the signatures have been delivered before the RNC could run out the clock, leading up to a potential confrontation.
The Republican convention gaveled to order Monday to process the approval of the party platform and the rules package governing the nomination of Donald Trump.