Twenty-four hours after anti-Trump delegates failed to vote-in party rules changes that would allow delegates to vote their conscience at the Republican National Convention, a former senator said he will soon leave the GOP and launch a movement to elect a candidate other than Trump.
“It may be presumptuous on my part but it is preferable to Donald Trump becoming president,” former Sen. Gordon Humphrey, R-N.H., told me Tuesday.
Humphrey, who was a leading conservative senator from 1978-90, also revealed that he will change his party registration to independent “as soon as Trump’s nomination becomes official.”
A strong backer of Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president, Humphrey has long made clear that, like Kasich, he will not support Trump even if the controversial billionaire became the Republican nominee.
On Tuesday, however, the former Granite State lawmaker went further, saying he would proceed with trying to convince candidates in various states to become “favorite sons and daughters” as independent presidential hopefuls.
A group of six like-minded Republicans planned to meet with him in downtown Cleveland on strategy, Humphrey told me.
“It’s not a third party because third parties usually don’t go anywhere,” he said, ruling out backing former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson for president on the Libertarian Party ticket. “It’s an attempt — it’s a real long shot — to get enough electoral votes to throw the election into the U.S. House of Representatives. There, another Republican besides Donald Trump might have a chance of becoming president.”
During Rules Committee meetings last week, the so-called “conscience clause” freeing delegates from requirements to vote by primary or state convention was voted down resoundingly. On Monday, supporters of the measure led by Kendall Unruh of Colorado, then gathered signatures on petitions from a majority of delegates in seven states — one more state than the threshold required by party rules to require a roll call rather than a simple voice vote on the final convention rules package.
“But then [Trump campaign manager] Paul Manafort and his team of whips began convincing delegates to take their names off the petitions,” Peter Lee, a delegate from the District of Columbia, told me. “At one point, Manafort himself was shaking his finger at one of our delegates. Pretty soon, the Manafort whips got our ‘Free the Delegates’ team below the necessary majority of delegates [on petitions] from six states.”
When the chair asked for a voice vote on accepting the rules Monday, there were a lot of loud “ayes” and many loud “nos.” After the chair ruled the “ayes” had it and the rules were accepted, delegates from Colorado, Virginia, and other sympathetic states walked out of the “Quicken Loan Arena” in disgust.
“It may not have been a convention of brown shirts, but they put on a very convincing act,” Humphrey told us. “We’ve seen a Donald Trump presidency by prototype and it bodes ill, to say the least. I plan to leave the Republican Party until such time as Donald Trump is no longer one of its leaders.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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