Anti-Trump forces may be close to the 28 votes they need to allow delegates to the Republican National Convention to be "unbound" and vote against Donald Trump's nomination even though currently rules require them to vote for Trump at least on the first ballot, The Wall Street Journal reports.
According to a survey of delegates by the Journal, 20 members of the rules committee say they favor allowing delegates to be unbound and vote their "conscience," as suggested in June by House Speaker Paul Ryan,
who will serve as the convention's chairman next week in Cleveland.
The magic number of 28 is one-fourth of the 112 total members of the Convention Rules Committee. Their approval would allow the issue to then go before the full convention.
In addition to the 20 who told the Journal they would consider allowing delegates to be unbound, 59 said they support leaving the rules as they are, which would mean Trump delegates would be required to vote for him on the first round. The remaining 33 either could not be reached or did not respond.
Other groups have gotten different numbers.
Internal surveys by the Rules Committee found 18 willing to vote to unbind. Trump's own campaign counted 15.
But committee member Kendal Unruh, who is part of the anti-Trump movement, said she has more than 30 commitments, though some will not admit so publicly.
If the effort does succeed at the committee level, it would need half of the total delegates' support (1,237) to pass.
Committee member Randy Evans, a Trump backer, has taken a survey that shows that only 890 delegates personally support Trump, while 680 don't back him, according to the Journal, leaving about 900 up for grabs.
The battle over Trump's controversial candidacy did not end when he captured the required 1,237 delegates needed to be named the presumptive nominee. Anti-Trump forces have continued their efforts to block his nomination at the convention, including through the so-called "conscience" vote.
"The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that's contrary to their conscience," Ryan said during a "Meet the Press" interview. "Of course I wouldn't do that."
Many anti-Trump delegates have taken that as a sign that Ryan, who has endorsed Trump but also been critical of some of his statements, supports their effort.
Mike Stuart, Trump's West Virginia co-chairman and a member of the Rules Committee, told the Journal he will seek reprimands of anti-Trump party members.
But committee member Gina Blanchard-Reed of Washington urged fellow members to vote as they feel led.
"If we are a party of liberty, what are we afraid of?" she said in an email to committee members. "What are we unwilling to do? Does it mean that Donald Trump would be denied the nomination? Possibly. Possibly not. He would come out of the Convention stronger if he won the nomination as a result of a FREE WILL vote."
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