President Donald Trump?
The establishment wing of the Republican Party went nuts when Donald Trump solidified his lead in the 2016 GOP primary. GOP leaders are hell-bent on ousting him at the convention should he fail to win the nomination outright.
However, sabotaging a Trump victory may be harder than the D.C. insiders think. Although he technically needs 1,237 delegates to win, Trump could potentially forestall any shenanigans by locking down more than half of all “free agents.” (Source: “Trump’s real magic number is less than 1,237,” Politico, April 20, 2016.)
“Free agents” are delegates who arrive at the convention uncommitted to any one candidate. Some of them were in states that held caucuses and as a result, they are free to shift their votes at any time.
Knowing this, all the campaigns are fighting hard for the loyalty of “free agents.” Getting these votes could be especially helpful for Trump. There are approximately 200 “free agents” up for grabs between now and the convention.
Many analysts think Trump needs only half of the “free agents” to break his way. He would fail to win a majority in the first ballot, but it could stop other delegates from switching on the second and third ballots.
Rumors have been swirling about this 13th-hour convention grab for months. It would be a last-ditch attempt by the party elites to take back control of the 2016 GOP primary.
Mitch McConnell, the senate majority leader, basically admitted it when speaking to a TV station in Louisville: “I want somebody who can win in November and the whole process is about trying to beat Hillary Clinton in November,” he said. “And I think our delegates, if they end up actually having the latitude to make a decision, which would occur on the second and third ballot, are going to be interested in who can win.” (Source: “Sen. McConnell on SCOTUS, Presidential Race,” WHAS Louisville, April 16, 2016.)
That is political-speak for we’ll do it if we can pull it off. One of the most powerful Republicans in the country basically admitted that ousting Trump is a real possibility.
However, Trump could foil these Machiavellian schemes by swinging 100 or more “free agents” into his corner. His real target number is closer to 1,137.