It is still a longshot, but there are signs of Trump’s support failing.
It was a pivotal week for the Trump campaign. A lackluster campaign finance report, the firing of Corey Lewandowski as campaign manager, and continued lackluster polling seemingly have breathed new life into the #NeverTrump movement. The ever-shifting focus seems to have now settled on #FreeTheDelegates, an effort to convince all the GOP delegates that they are unbound. Will this new focus work? Time will tell.First, a look at Trump’s week. On Monday morning, a bombshell was dropped by the Trump campaign. Lewandowski, who guided the campaign through the primary process with the guiding principle of “let Trump be Trump,” was fired. Then the next day, a mediocre campaign finance report, showing Trump with only $1.3 million in the bank, at the end of May, was released. The #NeverTrump crowd focused on the wrong part of the report, which I explained in my piece, “Stop Picking on Trump for Following Campaign Finance Law.”
There are plenty of reasons to be wary of Donald Trump and his campaign for president. The fact that he is following the law regarding the use of his own private assets is not one of them. The media, conservative and otherwise, is all in a tizzy over Trump “spending 20 percent” of his campaign funds on his own companies. What the sensationalism doesn’t tell you is that he’s personally responsible for over 70 percent of his campaign funds, and that the reimbursements are required by campaign finance law. It is illegal for Trump to use assets he owns, through corporations, for campaign purposes without reimbursement from the campaign. He is now being attacked for following the law.
The true focus should have been on the inability to garner outside support. Trump, later in the week, went a long way to helping on that account. He has personally forgiven the $50 million in loans he has made to his campaign.
On Wednesday, Trump gave what was being hailed, even by some critics, as his best speech of the campaign. He went right at Hillary Clinton in a concise, coherent way.
Conservative Review Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin, a frequent Trump critic, was impressed. Levin said, “Donald Trump gave a hell of a speech today.” Levin gave it the highest of praise saying the speech “sounds like the Mark Levin show, doesn’t it Mr. Producer?”
Will that pivot by Trump be enough? Other Conservative Review contributors were less impressed. Steve Deace pondered about how the Trump campaign is doing everything a campaign designed to sabotage the Republican Party would do.
Trump’s polling continues to be abysmal, especially his state level polling. This week, two state-based polls came out that show just how bad it currently is for Donald Trump. The first is from Arizona. On June 20th OH Predictive Insights surveyed 1,060 voters. Hillary Clinton led Donald Trump in that poll 46.5 percent to 42.2 percent. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the state by nine points. The other is a Quinnipiac Florida poll that shows Clinton up by 8 points in a two-way race, and six points in a four-way race. Trump needs to win Florida to win the general election.
It isn’t just the general election polls that should give the Trump team ulcers. A CNN poll was released on Tuesday that showed almost half of Republicans want the convention to dump Trump. That is where the #FreeTheDelegates movement sees their chance.
There may be some trouble brewing, however. Resistance within the party to the idea of Trump being the party’s nominee seems to be becoming more organized (with nearly 400 delegates and/or alternates now being reported as supporting the anti-Trump movement). But there are still many within the party who hold the view that any attempt to stop Trump would be foolhardy. “All of the discussion about the RNC Rules Committee acting to undermine the presumptive nominee is silly,” RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer said on June 17, calling talk about an organized effort to dump Trump “a media creation and a series of tweets”. Trump has expressed the same, going so far as to describe efforts to unbind RNC delegates “illegal”. Trump has said there is “no mechanism for [this] to happen.”
Yet the “Free the Delegates” movement rages on, with delegates and Rules Committee members Kendal Unruh (a former Cruz supporter) and Curly Hauglan[sic] among the loudest voices calling for delegates to be unbound to vote however they wish – whether or not it reflects the voters’ choices in the states they represent.
As I explained in an earlier update, there are multiple ways the #FreeTheDelegates movement believes that delegates are unbound. Curly Haugland, an RNC member from North Dakota argues that the delegates are already unbound, on account of the rules prohibiting unit voting, and a longstanding precedent for conscience voting. That interpretation is left up to the chair of the convention, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. The more likely scenario would develop in the convention rules committee, where the rules could be changed to allow delegates to be unbound.
It is unknown at this time if such an effort to change the rules and choose a nominee other that Trump would be successful. At the very least, any effort to do so would tarnish Trump’s attempts to unify the party at the convention, with a loud contingent of anti-Trump delegates being given a voice.
I, along with a team from Conservative Review, will be at the convention starting in two weeks, to cover the pre-convention committee meetings, and the convention itself. The week before the convention will expose how strong the #FreeTheDelegates movement really is.
Author: Robert Eno