Very quietly, RNC prepares for contested convention

Officials from the Republican National Commitee and a couple dozen party strategists gathered at RNC headquarters yesterday to discuss the mechanics of how a contested convention would unfold.

Representatives from the candidates were not invited.


Top officials at the Republican National Committee explained the intricacies of a contested convention Tuesday afternoon to roughly two dozen veteran GOP operatives.

The meeting at the RNC's Capitol Hill headquarters included discussion about bound delegates and how the party will organize the timing of multiple rounds of balloting, according to operatives who attended.

RNC officials made the case that there is plenty of time built in during the convention to strategize between ballots, according to one attendee.

Leading the session were Sean Spicer, the party's senior strategist; Katie Walsh, the RNC chief of staff; and John Phillippe, the chief counsel.

Spicer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The operatives in attendance included Trent Duffy, former Minnesota Rep. Vin Weber, Matt Schlapp, Ron Bonjean, Phil Musser, Doug Heye and Ryan Williams.

Scrutiny will soon start shifting toward the permanent convention chairman.  In 2016, it will be Paul Ryan controlling the gavel.  It's hard to overstate the importance of the chair at a chaotic convention, as Cleveland is shaping up to be.  The chair controls the floor – or tries to.  It is he who decides who is recognized and who is ignored.

In a non-contested convention, this is all scripted so that the chair knows whom to call on next and what the purpose of the motion to be offered will be.  But in a convention where the rules fight will probably determine the nominee, Ryan will be charged with trying to avoid a riot as Trump and Cruz delegates clash over ballot rules and other arcane subjects.  Any sign of favoritism toward one side or the other could set off a free-for-all – either a physical battle or an unseemly screaming match where one side or the other tries to drown out whoever is recognized on the floor.

Given the Trump supporters' thuggery and threats of violence against delegates, it would not surprise me one bit if there weren't violent altercations initiated by Trump delegates.  If their man says the nomination is being stolen from him, then the possibility of violence becomes very real.

Cleveland is shaping up to be a nightmare from which the GOP may never wake up.

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