In the first consequential action of the Republican National Convention, supporters of Donald Trump and ranking GOP members rolled over anti-Trump forces seeking a roll call vote on the rules that govern the gathering.
Kendel Unruh, leader of the Colorado delegation and the anti-Trump movement, walked out after the convention floor erupted, with protests of “Roll call vote! Roll call vote!”
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The Ohio delegation has not walked out, despite all of the state’s delegates set to vote for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Colorado’s delegation is made up mostly of unbound delegates of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
The fight, over one of the first orders of business in the hall, could portend raucous votes over what otherwise might be routine matters over the next few days — including the approval of Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana as Trump’s running mate, and the nomination of Trump himself.
The floor fight preceded the highly orchestrated televised debut of Trump’s general election campaign on Monday, including a speech by Melania Trump, wife of the candidate.
Thr Trump team started off on a bad foot with Ohio’s delegates early Monday after Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Kasich should be “embarrased” for not taking part in the convention.
A majority of delegates in nine states, including Colorado, had signed a petition challenging a vote on the convention rules as set forth by the convention rules committee last week. Only seven were needed.
You’ll recall that the crux of the fight last Thursday was over whether to adopt a “conscience clause” that would allow delegates to ignore the primary or caucus results in their states and vote for the presidential candidate of their choice. I.e., not Donald Trump.
The petitions were to have forced a time-consuming roll call vote, but insiders said the ultimate outcome would not have been in doubt. The rules required only a majority vote approval, which is well within the grasp of Trump supporters, who have allied with the forces of RNC chair Reince Priebus.
Instead, the chair, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, called for an immediate voice vote, shutting off debate. He declared “yea” votes the winner, and moved onto the next item of business – the platform committee.
The convention hall quickly descended into chaos.
“These is a meeting of brownshirts. They may not be fascists, but they’re behaving like fascists,” said former U.S. senator Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire, interviewed by MSNBC.
Shortly afterwards, the chair returned and said three states had withdrawn their delegates’ names from the petitions. “The chair has found insufficient support for a recorded vote,” Womack said. He did not say which state withdrew.
“I’ve never seen anything like this. The chairman of the convention left the stage for five minutes,” said U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.
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