Trump Preps for Convention Fight, Hires Expert Strategist

Donald Trump, via Fox screengrabDonald Trump, frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, has hired a veteran political strategist to help win a presumed fight over delegates at the party convention. Attorney Paul J. Manafort has joined his team. Trump confirmed the move to The New York Times.

Manafort, 66, has decades of experience. A long-time operative of the Republican Party, he’s familiar with internecine battles. In 1976, he was a major figure in getting Gerald Ford the nomination. It was the last time the GOP started a convention without initially having a clear nominee. He later played similar roles for Ronald Reagan in 1980, George H.W. Bush in 1988, and Bob Dole in 1996.

Basically, Trump hired somebody who might cinch his uncertain victory. Sure, he’s the frontrunner with 739 delegates as of Tuesday, not too far away from the 1,237 delegates required to win. It may not be enough, though. There’s been a few conservative super PACs trying to sink his candidacy.

Trump technically won more votes at the Louisiana primary, but only gained as many delegates as 2nd place finisher Senator Ted Cruz because the results were so close. What really might hurt are the free agents. Senator Marco Rubio won a few delegates in the state, and now those guys are free to represent whoever they want because he’s since dropped out of the race.

So a presumptive victory might be undone. Unfaithful delegates can ditch Trump at the convention assuming he doesn’t have enough to win at the first ballot for nomination. And even if he does, rule-making shenanigans before the first round of balloting could free the delegates to represent whoever they want at any point.

“The delegates ultimately have the final say in the rules that will govern the convention,” Josh Putnam, a political science lecturer at the University of Georgia, told in an early March report. “That may mean that they opt to unbind themselves, but a majority of them would have to agree to that.”

The 2016 Republican National Convention is scheduled run July 18 through 21 in Cleveland, Ohio.

[h/t The New York Times]

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