Oh, to be in Cleveland now that summers here..
When in Cleveland, Republican delegates deserve the right to vote their conscience. While some of Trump opponents have pushed the "conscience clause" as a last gasp to prevent him from becoming the party's official nominee. I believe allowing the delegates to vote their conscience won’t derail Trump’s candidacy, and in fact could actually reaffirm it and ultimately unite our party.
If a minimum of 28 ‘Never Trump’ delegates vote to unbind their votes for Trump, then the Rules Committee is obligated to bring a motion to the convention floor. That will decide if the delegates can be un-bound from the candidate who got the most votes in their state and enable them to vote their conscious, i.e., a different candidate. If the ’Never Trump’ delegates succeed in bringing the vote to the floor and Trump still wins the majority of delegates - that is the validation that should unite the party.
The delegates come from many different walks of life, however most are considered “establishment” figures in the Republican Party. Selected by local Republican leaders, elected officials and party chairmen, these individuals make up the fabric of our party. While Trump has won the most primary votes, he has not won the hearts and the minds of establishment Republicans. He desperately needs these individuals to coalesce behind his candidacy in order to win in November. Their doubts about Trump must be resolved to give Republicans a chance to win in November.
If Trump wins the nomination, despite having unbound delegates, this will allow the party to come together and leverage the grassroots strength that is the DNA of the party. This is especially true in swing states where a candidate needs more feet on the streets, not tweets or retweets. Finally, it will help to unlock the resources desperately necessary to match the Clinton/Obama fundraising machine.
For their part, Trump supporters rightly maintain that he has the populace momentum behind him; he did get 14 million votes. But what they are missing is importance of securing establishment backing, because without it Trump can’t and won’t win. The fact is that without near universal support of Republican voters virtually no Republican presidential candidate can win. This is more important than ever as Trump’s campaign makes the critical transition from the primaries to a sustained, focused and organized national campaign.
Swing states matter not just to the Electoral College map but they are critical to maintaining our majority in the Senate. To preserve our seats in Ohio, Florida and New Hampshire and many others, Trump must do well. A united party is crucial for Trump to maintain our edge in these states. Remember this – Napoleon proved you cannot win a war fought on two fronts - fighting within the Republican base and with the Democrats will most certainly be our Waterloo.
As we move toward the convention, recent reports in the Wall Street Journal indicate that the ‘Never Trump’ crowd believe they are close to having the necessary support of 28, or one-quarter of 112 Rules Committee members, to place a vote of conscience clause before the full body. With less than two weeks before we assemble in Cleveland, this is a sober reminder that there is much healing left to be done within our own ranks.
To quote Speaker Ryan, “The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that's contrary to their conscience.”
Mack is an American businessman, philanthropist and former U.S. ambassador to Finland.