Rockefeller vs. Goldwater 2: Ted Cruz vs. Mitt Romney could produce a brokered convention

Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney

Talk radio show host Hugh Hewitt has a plan to stop an inevitable 2016 bid by Texas Senator Ted Cruz…

…Run Mitt Romney.

Writing in the Weekly Standard about the possibility of a brokered 2016 Republican National Convention (emphasis mine):

The reality is that the new GOP map and likely primary calendar greatly favors Cruz, whom the establishment greatly, indeed irrationally fears, as Iowa and South Carolina will be on fire for the firebrand with the extraordinary rhetorical and debating skills. New Hampshire was going to be Chris Christie country, but may end up being a 10-way carve-up train wreck of a primary. The new Granite State poll released April 18 puts Senator Rand Paul atop a field of 13, with an underwhelming 15 percent of the vote, “favorite daughter” Senator Kelly Ayotte tied for second place with Paul Ryan, and Christie a point behind them.

A badly split New Hampshire result would leave Cruz marching through South Carolina with Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio hoping to stop him there and in Rubio’s long-ago home state of Nevada. But right now it looks like all the momentum will belong to the Texan as the big two March dates loom. The media love a political blitzkrieg, and Cruz would be rolling with Iowa and South Carolina on his board.

Unless, that is, something old becomes something new, something that Governor Romney could champion and for which there might be many takers: an open convention, one where the outcome was not preordained by the delegate contests leading up to it.

Most pundits consider a brokered convention in the modern political era as sheer fantasy, but North Dakota Republican National Committeeman Curly Haugland doesn’t think so because the RNC changed Rule 40, shortening the length of the primary and convention process in the lead-up to the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Speaking to U.S. News in March, Haugland said, “Every primary, every caucus, will essentially be a beauty contest. Now, those results will be persuasive to delegates that go to the convention. But the delegates to the Republican convention are going to choose the next presidential nominee. Nobody will have the majority of delegates from eight states before the convention.”

Virginia Republican National Committeeman and veteran Rules Committeemember Morton Blackwell believes Rule 40 has the potential to cause chaos. “It’s conceivable the application of this rule could result in nobody having a majority. It needs to be clarified. The problem is it’s not clear,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell led the charge during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa against what he calls the “Ginsberg power grabs,” referring to Romney’s top legal aide Ben Ginsberg’s successful attempt at strong-arming the Rules Committee into making radical changes that would theoretically benefit a Romney 2016 re-election campaign.

Hewitt continues:

If Romney were to declare a “five-state-plus” campaign for the purposes of pushing for an “open convention,” his donor networks and old staff would light up at least in part, as would the smiles of every governor who’d like a plausible reason to get his or her own name into the mix in 2016 without the heavy lifting of the endless campaign that chugs to life the day after the vote this fall. Even the handful of folks eyeing an old-fashioned start-to-finish run might embrace a campaign designed to keep a momentum play from running the board early.

Political reporters and talk hosts, of course, would swoon: Finally, the Holy Grail, a convention that isn’t scripted down to the minute—a real political news event would generate months of cable coverage.

Hewitt concludes, rather fantastically, that this would encourage an “electable” (he claims Cruz has “little chance of winning the general”) Republican to step forward and seek the nomination.

The RNC will convene later this week in Memphis for their Spring meeting. North Dakota National Committeeman Curly Haugland expects to bring this issue up for discussion once again. If the RNC doesn’t act this week, they will have only one more opportunity (during the Summer meeting this year) to change the rules before the 2016 Convention.

Disclaimer: The author of this piece was a Ron Paul-supporting, Mitt Romney-bound delegate to the 2012 Republican National Convention and routinely staffs Morton Blackwell at RNC meetings.


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