I Won’t Say I Agree With The Suggestion The RNC Ban Trump From The Nomination…

…that Kevin Boyd put forth here yesterday. I would call that too extreme.

That said, Trump’s caterwauling about delegates from Louisiana to the Republican convention in Cleveland is unseemly and stupid, and it calls the viability of his whole campaign structure into question. Trump seems to know this, given this press release we had come in this morning…

Today Donald J. Trump announced that Paul J. Manafort will serve as his campaign’s Convention Manager. Mr. Manafort is volunteering his considerable insight and expertise because of his belief that Mr. Trump is the right person for these difficult times. He will be responsible for transitioning the Trump campaign’s activities as they relate to Mr. Trump’s nomination at the convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mr. Manafort’s experience spans over three decades of working on U.S. presidential campaigns, and includes work on conventions for Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, as well as Republican Presidential nominee, Bob Dole. Mr. Trump will use Mr. Manafort’s years of experience to support his efforts in all aspects of the convention as he closes in on the Republican nomination for President.

Currently, Mr. Manafort is an attorney and founding partner of DMP International, LLC where he has been active in business and international affairs for the last 20 years. Previously, he was a partner at BMS&K for 15 years and worked on dozens of international political campaigns in an effort to bring democratic expertise to foreign countries. He served as a director of OPIC following his appointment by President Reagan, and was on the Investment Policy Advisory Committee at the Office of the US Trade Representative.

Mr. Trump stated, “Paul is a great asset and an important addition as we consolidate the tremendous support we have received in the primaries and caucuses, garnering millions more votes than any other candidate. Paul Manafort, and the team I am building, bring the needed skill sets to ensure that the will of the Republican voters, not the Washington political establishment, determines who will be the nominee for the Republican Party. I look forward to winning the nomination, and ultimately the presidency in order to Make America Great Again.”

On his appointment Mr. Manafort said, “I am honored to serve Mr. Trump’s campaign, and look forward to helping secure his nomination as the Republican nominee for President. Mr. Trump has tapped into the growing disillusionment with the Washington political establishment. What he has achieved so far is historic. My role is to work with the professionals that Mr. Trump has assembled to protect the victories that he has won in states across the country. I am confident that he will be the Republican nominee and the next President of the United States.”

In addition, Mr. Trump is announcing that his campaign is opening a Washington, DC based office to coordinate his campaign’s work with the Republican National Committee, Congress, and his convention and delegate operations. The office will serve as a conduit for outreach for Mr. Trump’s campaign organization nationally.

We’ve been through this over and over, but where Louisiana is concerned Trump is getting the number of delegates to the convention that he rated. He got 41 percent of the vote in the Louisiana primary, and he got 39 percent of the delegates. Cruz got 38 percent of the vote and 39 percent of the delegates.

The delegates were apportioned based on rules agreed to by all the parties in advance of the primary.

And now Trump, who spent two solid months taking a colossal dump on Marco Rubio, is surprised to find that the delegates who ran and won at the Louisiana caucus on Rubio’s slate would rather vote for Cruz than for Rubio.

Yes, the response goes, but Rubio attacked Trump personally for his small hands and so forth.

That’s no doubt true, but it’s an object lesson in why you rise above those things and don’t let them devolve into personal animus and gutter politics. Trump wasn’t duty bound to do the Little Marco thing or carry on like this…

Hell, this was all the way back in September of last year…

Now, you can say that’s mild and Rubio and his people are babies for taking it so seriously. And you might have a point.

But here’s the thing – that’s for them to decide. Not for you. They get to choose who they want to vote for.

And Rubio’s people are closer to Cruz than Trump on most subjects anyway, so he was already at a disadvantage.

Why? Well, Rubio’s record shows that, ideologically, he and Cruz are pretty close. The Gang of Eight bill is pretty much the only major difference between the two. That and the fact Cruz is a little more reticent about foreign military adventurism than Rubio. Otherwise, the two agree on most everything. Trump, ideologically, is all over the map – but his history shows he’s a lot more of a Democrat.

Rubio’s people were attracted to him rather than Cruz because they thought he’d be a better general election candidate. By that standard it’s pretty obvious they’d pick Cruz over Trump; Trump’s disapproval ratings top 65 percent in no less than four major polls in the past two weeks, and those were taken before the awful Heidi Cruz debacle Trump let loose. Nobody who is picking a candidate on the basis of how strong they’d be in a general election is picking Trump right now.

And Rubio’s people tend to be fairly strait-laced GOP voters – establishment types, if you will. Trump’s entire campaign has been about how terrible the establishment, and the entire structure of the Republican Party, for that matter, is and how inadequate to the challenges facing the country might be. And while Trump might well be correct about those things and while we might even excuse Trump’s participation in screwing up the system in the first place, when you’re running on how awful a group of people are you’re generally going to find that those people and their friends are not a receptive audience for your message.

Interestingly, Cruz is running on a very similar message, but he’s perceived by these Rubio delegates as doing so in a manner that is much more palatable. Cruz presents the disagreement as one of principle and tactics, but not of character – his dismissal of Mitch McConnell as a liar notwithstanding. Cruz is disliked intensely by the Beltway crowd and perhaps less intensely by GOP insiders across the country, but that’s more out of a sense that he goes too far with ideological purity and not that he’s a raving authoritarian lunatic who will wipe out the GOP. That’s what those people think of Trump.

And neither Trump nor his supporters seem to recognize the problem which is manifesting itself in the Louisiana delegate drama.

He managed to get about 40 percent of the vote here, but in doing so he alienated the other 60 percent in a way which makes them unify against him. And that put a ceiling on his support. The delegate math reflects that, so he loses to Cruz among the Louisiana delegation at the convention.

Think of the delegate count as a runoff between Trump and Cruz. Neither got 50 percent, so neither would get a majority of the delegates. They’ve got to fight for the 20 percent of the delegates who don’t represent Cruz or Trump voters.

Cruz has made romancing those delegates a key part of his campaign and he’s been tremendously effective in doing so. Cruz has Rubio delegates actively supporting him in Louisiana now. And Cruz garnered support among some of the state’s top Republican officials. The national committeeman from Louisiana, Ross Little, was a state co-chair of Cruz’ campaign. Little could have been a Trump supporter, or a Rubio supporter, or a Jeb Bush supporter, but he was attracted to Cruz’ candidacy. And Little was going to be one of the unbound delegates to Cleveland by virtue of his position.

Trump’s campaign should have been pursuing Little and attempting to get his support. They didn’t. They also didn’t get the support of Lenar Whitney, the state’s national committeewoman, who is also going to be a Cruz delegate.

Instead of getting those folks, Trump got Woody Jenkins to be his most active Republican surrogate in Louisiana. And Woody Jenkins proceeded to alienate the people at the state convention – to such an extent that he wasn’t even chosen as one of the 18 Trump delegates.

That’s Trump’s fault. That’s nobody else’s fault. Woody Jenkins isn’t liked among the state GOP. It was a mistake to have him doing these things.

Trump also has Eric Skrmetta on his team, and Skrmetta is better liked and respected than Jenkins is. Skrmetta will be going to Cleveland and the guess is he’ll hold a decent number of Trump’s delegates together on a 2nd ballot at the convention, if there is one.

But you don’t build a team aimed at attracting votes and have that team captained by somebody who repels them. And that’s what Trump did in Louisiana, and it’s a decent bet he’s done that in lots of other places where he cobbled together a collection of mercenaries and people on the outs with the Powers That Be.

Trump has set his campaign up as a “hostile takeover” of the Republican Party. Well, the way you make a hostile takeover work in this case is you capture a majority. Trump hasn’t had the first state yet to give him a majority of the votes, and while he’s earned the majority of delegates in several of them he doesn’t even have a good delegate operation to insure the people being elected on his slate are actually Trump supporters.

Well-run campaigns don’t have problems like these. But Trump’s campaign is more of a road show and reality TV act. That plays pretty well with some voters in a primary, but not well enough to pull a majority and not well enough to convince the people who work the process of nominating a president.

I think Kevin goes too far in saying the RNC ought to dump Trump. But I will say this – the RNC ought to put out a statement telling Trump delegates are a bit like flies, and honey does a whole lot better job in attracting them than vinegar. Trump’s campaign has been far too much vinegar, and his disapproval rate shows that the same way his trouble with delegates does.

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