Chaos erupted on the floor on the first day of the Republican National Committee in Cleveland, as forces opposed to Donald Trump tried — and failed — to make one last stand.
Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack brought up the Rules Committee report, which would keep delegates bound to Trump. Anti-Trump forces began shouting and wanting a roll call vote in a last-ditch effort to unbind GOP delegates and let them vote their “conscience.”
Their objections were shouted down by pro-Trump supporters. The package was passed on voice vote. Boos and chants were drowned out by cheers of “USA!” and Trump supporters.
Womack left the podium and stage, while the house band came on to play amid the confusion. He returned later and called a voice vote, where both “Ayes” and “Nays” were loudly heard. Womack ruled the Ayes had won.
A Utah delegate requested a roll call, but Womack said the petitions from states were insufficient and that there would not be a roll call vote. Never Trump forces said they had secured nine states petitioning for a roll call vote, but Womack said three of those had withdrawn, dropping below the seven states needed. According to PBS NewsHour‘s Pamela Kirkland, the delegations withdrawing their petitions were Iowa, Minnesota and the District of Columbia.
Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the primary, was infuriated by the result, telling several TV networks the convention chairmen had “cheated” by not allowing a roll call vote.
“If you won’t obey your own rules, there’s no reason to think you won’t obey any others. Here we’ve got RNC trampling their own grass-roots delegates, and for most of us here this was about getting good grass-roots rules,” Cuccinelli told MSNBC.
#NeverTrump senior adviser Rory Cooper slammed the decision to deny a roll call vote and maintained there were “more than enough states” petitioning for such a vote.
“There is no excuse for strong-arming delegates and skirting the rules to silence these members of the party. Or as the Trump campaign puts it, ‘crushing’ and ‘destroying’ delegates,” Cooper said. “The convention exists for a reason, and to ignore the will of the delegates in order to preserve a false sense of support for Donald Trump will do even more harm to the party and this week’s proceedings. If Donald Trump is secure in his position as the presumptive nominee, he should have nothing to fear from a routine roll call vote.”
Trump tweeted after the chaos, blasting CNN for showing the fight: