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Stoddard: The great Trump rebellion

Stoddard: The great Trump rebellion
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A reined-in Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE delivered a focused and forward-looking address via teleprompter Wednesday that lacerated Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Groups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Biden's political position is tougher than Trump's MORE and gave Republicans hope the presumptive GOP presidential nominee has found a message and will stay on it. 

The speech was designed, in part, to halt a rebellion that would free delegates to abandon him at his nominating convention next month in Ohio. It is unlikely to stop the revolt — but no matter, the revolt is unlikely to stop Trump.

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Fueled by Trump’s campaign meltdown, as well as news the candidate faces a staggering cash disadvantage in a race against Clinton, Dump Trumpers are eyeing a new CNN poll showing 48 percent of Republicans would favor replacing the billionaire. Trump has not topped 40 percent in recent averages of polling on RealClearPolitics and has frightened party operatives not only with his controversial statements but a sparingly staffed campaign largely absent from the swing states he will need to win in November.

Organizers now claim more than 400 delegates could switch their vote from Trump on the first ballot. The likely vehicle for this coup would be the elimination of Rule 16, which was adopted just four years ago at the nominating convention of Mitt Romney, binding delegates to the victor of their states’ primaries or caucuses. They could also alter the rules to require the nominee to reach a supermajority of delegates on the first ballot and hope Trump would fall short. Kendal Unruh, a delegate from Colorado and Rules Committee member who supported Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump banking proposal on fossil fuels sparks backlash from libertarians Former CIA head, Cruz trade jabs over killing of Iranian nuclear scientist: 'You are unworthy to represent the good people of Texas' O'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' MORE’s bid, told The Hill this week that she will introduce a “conscience clause” proposal that would free delegates to vote however they choose.

Yet new polling shows that senators running for reelection in battleground states won twice by President Obama are faring better in recent weeks — even those who have worked hard to distance themselves from Trump. And there is also no current plan, should such an unprecedented upheaval succeed, to put the party back together and unite around a new nominee, as there is no consensus candidate. Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer worked to tamp down speculation last week with a tweet calling the protest effort a “media creation” and stated that “there is no organized effort, strategy or leader of this so-called movement.”

Still, there are clear hints of daylight — and exasperation — among leaders who are supporting Trump, who have no idea what he or his campaign will do between now and July 21 when the party is slated to nominate him in Cleveland. For example, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan calls for Trump to accept results: 'The election is over' Bottom line Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition MORE (R-Wis.) told “Meet The Press” last weekend that though he endorsed the likely nominee, he doesn’t expect his colleagues to. 

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who hails from the same state as both the Speaker and the chairman of the RNC, Reince Priebus, also backed Ryan’s waiver as “legitimate” for those within the GOP who cannot support Trump, saying delegates should “vote the way they see fit.” Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderCongress set for chaotic year-end sprint We need a college leader as secretary of education As Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on MORE (R-Tenn.) recently said, “we do not have a nominee until after the convention.” And the RNC made former Rep. Enid Mickelsen, a GOP party stalwart from Utah, which is a state Trump lost badly to Cruz, the co-chairwoman of the Rules Committee at the convention. She has criticized Trump.

Trump’s campaign reboot could succeed, funds could roll in, and momentum could build as the Republican Party preps for its convention. But some uprising is pretty much a promise at this point. Unruh, a lifelong Republican, sure didn’t sound like she will be changing her mind. She told The Hill, “you now have a potential nominee who wants to come in and destroy our party. ... If he is the face of conservatism, there is no Republican Party.”

Cleveland, here we come.

Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.