When Paul Manafort was originally signed by the Trump campaign he was presented as a guy who among other things, knew how to keep convention delegates in line. Yesterday he earned his salary as he helped to quash a rebellion on convention rules.
It started with a floor fight during which the people running the convention dissapeared, and a delegations walked out, former Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli threw down his credentials in disgust, and Sen. Mike Lee from Utah had an on-cameral fit. And the only thing that saved a potentially embarrassing voice vote was some back room arm twisting from the Trump team.
At issue was approval of the rules of the convention— generally an automatic yes vote, but yesterday, the last stand of the never Trumpers. Actually the never Trumpers knew they didn’t have a chance to win their vote to reject the platform and release the delegates to vote for who they wanted (rather than who they were elected to vote for) they just wanted a roll call vote to present their opinions from the floor and on national TV. Whether they won or not…it would have been an embarrassment to the Trump effort.
Before the vote, a majority of eleven states delegations presented to the “chair” petitions a voice vote on the rules, four more than the necessary seven.
Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack was presiding over the convention and called for a voice vote to approve the rules. Sitting above the delegates in the convention center it was very difficult to determine which side won. Womack initially ruled the ayes had won and the rules were adopted without changes. That’s when the craziness started with chants of “Roll Call” by one side and “U.S.A. from the other.
Womack tried to move the convention along and introduced Senator Barrasso (WY) to discuss the platform but the never Trump delegates wouldn’t hear of it, the chants got louder.
Then, Womack dissapeared from the stage and Manafort’s team of whips went to work. Using the petition lists they worked the floor for about 15 minutes getting delegates to change their minds. While the team of whips were doing their jobs, Senator Lee was in front of the speakers’ platform complaining to the press.
“I have no idea what is going on right now, This is surreal. The chair walked off the stage. He completely abandoned his post.”
In the end, Manafort’s team of whips convinced four of the initial 11 delegations to change their minds; Minnesota, Maine, Iowa and the District of Columbia and Alaska, (according to the RNC) failed to submit enough valid signatures to begin with bringing the total down to six, one less than needed. According to one of the whips, some of the delegates who initially voted for a roll call, were not aware of what they had signed on to.
When Womack came back there was another voice vote in which the aye clearly won, a motion for a roll call vote which caused more confusion,. Womack incorrectly announced that there were 9 delegations calling for a roll call and three changed their minds again causing the never Trumpers to cry foul once again because they turned in 11 petitions and Womack only accounted for eleven.
After Womack made his announcement, Colorado walked out, but end the convention moved on.
As floor fights go this was a short but an entertaining one that by Thursday Night will be forgotten.