Friday 4 August 2023

‘Guarding Our Flanks’: Trump Campaign Pulls Strings To Ease His Path To Nomination In 2024

 Former President Donald Trump’s campaign is quietly pressuring states to guarantee their delegation selection process will help his chances of winning the GOP nomination in 2024 and ensure their rules don’t favor his challengers, Politico reported Friday.

The California GOP has chosen to award all of its delegates to the Republican candidate who wins over 50% of the vote in its primary, altering its earlier proposal to give a portion to the runner-up, The Associated Press reported on Monday. Trump and his allies lobbied for California’s change, and they’re aiming for similar delegation proposals in several other states while attempting to block other alterations that could assist his rivals, according to Politico.

“He who controls the rules controls the process. You control process, you win,” Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita told Politico. “We’re basically guarding our flanks. We’re stopping any monkey business if they want to do it like Cruz did in 2016.” 

Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz led similar efforts to alter state delegation rules during his 2016 presidential campaign, which frustrated then-candidate Trump at the time, according to Politico.

California Republican Party Chair Jessica Millan Patterson and Republican National Committee members had originally proposed a plan that was not as favorable to the GOP primary frontrunner, which angered the Trump campaign, according to Politico. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California, who is close to Patterson, spoke with allies of the former president and reportedly played a large role in the new, winner-takes-all rules.

The most recent polling with a representative sample size of likely Republican primary voters indicates that Trump is leading Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis 44% to 26% among a crowded field, according to a late May University of California Berkeley/Los Angeles Times survey. 

Along with LaCivita, Susie Wiles, Brian Jack and Clayton Henson are heading the Trump campaign’s efforts to ensure the delegate rules favor his candidacy in states like Louisiana, Massachusetts, Colorado, Idaho and Nevada, according to Politico.

The aides have ensured delegates in Louisiana will award two ballots to the winner of the state’s primary, where Trump is historically popular, and are pushing for the same measure in Massachusetts and Colorado, according to Politico. Colorado is set to vote on the policy over the weekend.

Trump and his allies have also persuaded Republicans in Idaho and Nevada to opt for caucuses instead of a state primary, which could be an advantage to the former president who has a strong base, according to Politico. 

“They’re looking to rig the system in their favor,” Ken Cuccinelli, founder of Never Back Down, the super political action committee (PAC) supporting DeSantis’ White House bid, told Politico. “They’re going in and strong-arming the [GOP] committees.”

The super PAC is attempting to overcome the Trump team’s efforts and is eyeing states like Alabama and Missouri, according to Reuters. While Cuccinelli has accused Trump of trying to “rig” the election in his attempts to alter state delegation rules, LaCivita argued the super PAC is also trying to change policy to their favor, according to Politico.

“What’s so laughable about that is they were doing the same thing. ‘Smoke-filled backrooms?’” LaCivita told Politico of Cucinelli’s earlier remarks. “What the hell are they doing? … They’re just mad that they lost!”

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