The pro and anti-Trump forces of the Republican Party had another confrontation on Monday, this one public on the floor of the Republican National Convention. Anti-Trump and grassroots activists attempted to have had the convention rules voted on by roll call vote.
Several state delegations, including Colorado, organized petitions to force a roll call vote on the rules package. Organizers thought nine states had submitted petitions to the secretary, Susie Hudson of Vermont, but presiding chair Representative Steve Womack said that three states backed out. Seven states were required to force the vote.
Womack instead came out and asked for a voice vote on the rules while the activists angrily yelled in dissent. The furious activists were largely successful in drowning out the other delegates, but Womack said that the ayes had it, approving the rules.
Womack then left the stage as the activists chanted, “Roll call,” while pro-Trump delegates yelled his name.
The Arkansas Representative then returned and conducted a second voice vote while warning the audience that other yelling would drown out the votes. Despite protests from the crowd, Womack declared, “In the opinion of the chair the ayes have it.”
The anger on the floor was evident and televised. Ken Cuccinelli, the former Attorney General of Virgnia, threw his convention credentials down to the floor in a show of protest. Cuccinelli, who has been an active activist in recent years, had been trying to pass a major reform of the organization of Republican National Committee that would have shifted power away from the RNC Chair.
Cuccinelli and Senator Mike Lee were both active leaders of the effort and both were major supporters of Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. While the Cruz campaign was not behind the effort on Monday, some of the reforms being pushed by Lee, including closing the primary and caucus process to registered Republicans, would benefit Cruz should he run again.
Those involved all seemed to be in agreement, at least publicly, that this was not about Trump. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said that the rebellion “was not about Trump.”
“It would have been a meaningless gesture,” Manafort said about the potential roll call vote. “We knew the result, everybody knew the result and it would have affected the schedule for tonight, so it wasn’t something that was a wise choice.”
Even if the roll call was conducted, Trump would have most likely come out on top, but it would have been a distraction and reminder that his party is not yet united behind him. Unseen on television was the Trump campaign and the Republican Party leadership coordinating to quash the efforts behind the scenes.
Lee told CNN’s Dana Bash, “This is not about Donald Trump, this is about having a good, fair rules process.”