News / USA

    New Plan to Stop Trump: A Contested Convention

    FILE - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during a rally at Radford University in Radford, Va., Feb. 29, 2016.
    FILE - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during a rally at Radford University in Radford, Va., Feb. 29, 2016.

    It's something that has not happened in decades. If it does happen this year, one leading presidential candidate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, predicted voters would respond with a "revolt." But most analysts now agree: A contested political convention may be the only way to stop Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump from winning the party's nomination.

    A contested convention occurs when no presidential candidate wins a majority of delegates during the primaries and caucuses that take place in each state. Instead, delegates attending the party's national convention cast ballots for whomever they want, and continue to vote until a candidate wins a majority.

    For weeks, it appeared the outspoken billionaire Trump was on the path toward securing the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination outright. As a result, Republican Party leaders who were repulsed by the idea of Trump as their nominee urged low-polling candidates to drop out of the race so the party could coalesce around a single non-Trump candidate.

    But after Trump did worse than expected recently in several states, and no clear alternative to him emerged, that strategy changed. Many are now calling for the remaining candidates to stay in the race, hopeful that dividing the vote will deny Trump a delegate majority and force a convention battle from which a more establishment candidate can emerge.

    FILE - Republican presidential candidates, businessman Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, argue a point during a Republican presidential primary debate at Fox Theatre, March 3, 2016.
    FILE - Republican presidential candidates, businessman Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, argue a point during a Republican presidential primary debate at Fox Theatre, March 3, 2016.

    The strategy is risky, and it is rare.

    The last time a major national party convention opened without a clear winner was 1976, when Gerald Ford had a lead, but had not captured a majority of the delegates. It is also controversial, since the outcome likely will not reflect the decision of voters and is vulnerable to backroom deals between party leaders.

    A contested convention could either define or destroy the Republican Party, according to James Russell Muirhead, a professor of government at Dartmouth University. By choosing a candidate who does not have the most support from voters, delegates risk "imposing a definition on the party independent of what the people who participated in the nomination process decided," he told VOA.

    "They could also destroy the Republican Party by alienating a large number, a third to a half of people who participated in the primaries and caucuses," Muirhead added.

    Trump: Contested convention 'unfair'

    The candidate who stands to lose the most in such a scenario is Trump, who despite recent setbacks still has a commanding delegate lead. On Tuesday, Trump said it would be "pretty unfair" to have a contested convention.

    "I think that whoever's leading at the end should sort of get it,” Trump told Fox News. “I would think so. That's the way democracy works. I don't know that that's going to happen, but I'll tell you there will be a lot of people that will be very upset if that doesn't happen."

    Trump's rivals are mixed on whether a contested convention, also known as a brokered convention, is the best way forward.

    Cruz, who now appears to be the strongest second-place option, last week flatly rejected the idea, saying instead that he intends to beat the New York businessman at the ballot box.

    Cruz predicts revolt

    Last week, Cruz even went so far as to predict that voters would respond to a brokered convention by revolting.

    "(If) we go to a brokered convention ... the D.C. power brokers will drop someone in who is exactly to the liking of the Washington establishment. If that were to happen, we will have a manifest revolt on our hands all across this country," Cruz told an annual gathering of conservatives outside Washington.

    FILE - Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., shakes hands at a rally in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, March 5, 2016. The Republican primary will be held on the island nation Sunday.
    FILE - Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., shakes hands at a rally in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, March 5, 2016. The Republican primary will be held on the island nation Sunday.

    Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is in a distant fourth place both in the delegate count and in most opinion polls, has acknowledged that a contested convention is the only possible way for him to win the nomination. Florida Senator Marco Rubio's campaign has also been reportedly planning for a brokered convention.

    More moderate candidate?

    Both Kasich and Rubio typify the more moderate, establishment-type candidate that has traditionally dominated the Republican Party. If there is a contested convention, many analysts predict that someone like this will emerge as the nominee.

    But Steffen Schmidt, political science professor at Iowa State University, isn't so sure, saying Republican delegates could be just as divided as Republican voters.

    "There are at least three, maybe even four or five, different currents within the stream of the Republican Party," Schmidt told VOA. "And if it were a brokered convention, it isn't clear which piece of the party could actually wrangle a majority out of this."

    Another intriguing option: Delegates could choose to nominate someone not even currently in the race. Mitt Romney, the party's last presidential candidate, who lost to President Barack Obama in 2012, recently refused to rule out becoming the nominee at a brokered convention.

    Whoever emerges as the nominee, he or she will likely be severely damaged and will face a tough challenge in defeating the Democratic nominee, according to Muirhead, the Dartmouth professor.

    "This is a formula for nominating someone who's going to be very, very weak in the general election, who is going to lack the support of a very large part of the party," he said.

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    Comments
         
    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    March 09, 2016 1:16 PM
    We'll know a lot more after next Tuesday. Many pundits say if Trump wins Florida and Ohio it's all but over, the Trump Train is unstoppable. Right now Trump is America's best hope for regaining America's wealth, power, and prestige. That's because he is not corrupt and can't be corrupted.

    by: Lou from: Atlanta
    March 09, 2016 8:25 AM
    The reason the Republican party doesn't like Trump is because they KNOW there is a number of them on Capitol Hill that deserve to be arrested and Trump will have them arrested!

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    March 08, 2016 9:31 PM
    Hilary swore to all of us that Obama care was legit, you will not lose your current health plan, you can keep your doctor, and your premiums will not increase. Hilary swore to be for the women, and gender-pay-gap issues, sooooooooo, when she was the leader of the State department, she had the worst of all, more men were promoted than women! She is a hypocrite! Trump, on the other hand, swore that he is the only candidate that is not a politician....hurray....finally......wait.....what???? He is running on the Republican ticket? The last time I checked, the Republican party IS A POLITICAL PARTY! If you say you aren't ever to be something, but then wish to be that something at the same time, then you too are a HYPOCRITE! This is what we have for the next election, choose your hypocrite and enjoy. Trust me when I say this, no one is listening to us anymore, nobody is listening to "We, the people,......."

    by: Steve from: Knox, NY
    March 08, 2016 6:27 PM
    I am not a Trump supporter, but if he's the guy the people want, then we Repubs will have to deal with it and hope for the best. We survived Obama. No brokered convention, no backroom deals. Cruz is right - people will be PISSED!

    by: Bruce from: NYS
    March 08, 2016 5:53 PM
    If they do try and have a brokered convention it will absolutely destroy the GOP, I know for damned sure I will drop my Republican registration and opt for independent and I would never vote for another Rep candidate no matter who they put up there.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 08, 2016 11:14 PM
    The USA has never been so divided since the "Lincoln War" under Obama's leadership, and whoever the next president is, they'll have a hundred times more experience in government, foreign affairs, and war than Obama had when he got elected president? .. Whoever the choices for president are, I'll vote for the one that I believe is best for the country no matter what their political affiliation is? .. That's the only thing an American patriot would do?

    But 90% of American voters will vote for the candidate that promises to support their own personal selfish self-interests, (like gays, minority, race, welfare, healthcare, and religion), and putting their personal selfish self-interest issues above those of the country? .. Americans are selfish self-interest voters, not patriotic voters for the guardians of the constitution and protecting America? .. That's my opinion?

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