Trump Getting Outplayed: GOP front-runner faces obstacles in quest for delegates

Ashley Pratte,

Even though the baseball season has just begun, “inside baseball” within state GOP conventions has been underway for months. So far, Sen. Ted Cruz is hitting home runs while Donald Trump is striking out.

The Trump campaign is suffering major blows in the delegate hunt even after hiring a veteran convention manager and delegate team. For example, the Colorado Republican Party held its state convention this weekend, in which Cruz swept 34 of the 37 delegates. Trump got zero.

trump5_small Trump Getting Outplayed: GOP front-runner faces obstacles in quest for delegates

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump’s convention manager, Paul Manafort, accused the Cruz campaign of using “Gestapo” style tactics to win over delegates. “You go to these county conventions and you see the Gestapo tactics, the scorched earth tactics,” Manafort said about Cruz’s campaign. “We’re going to be filing several protests because the reality is they are not playing by the rules.”

But Alan Cobb, an adviser to the Trump campaign who was in charge of the delegate recruitment in Colorado, said in an interview to the New York Times that the campaign had set expectations low.

“We made the conscious decision back in October that Colorado, because of the structure, just didn’t make sense for us to invest a lot of time and resources in,” Cobb said. “It doesn’t lend itself to the kind of campaign we have and the folks who support us.”

What’s more, the campaign made simple but costly mistakes when it came to delegate selection. The flyers that Trump supporters handed out had errors — the names of Trump delegates didn’t match up with the corresponding ballot number. This mistake ultimately cost Trump delegates against the well-oiled Cruz machine.

 

Yet the GOP front-runner is whistling a different tune. Trump has taken to the stump to complain about the unfair rules and “crooked shenanigans” being used in the GOP primary, saying that the candidate who wins the most votes in the primary process should automatically be the nominee.

However, these rules aren’t new. After the 2012 election, the states of Colorado, North Dakota and Wyoming chose to not hold nominating contests in 2016 — meaning they will select their delegates at their state convention. The decision, specifically in Colorado, was very controversial.

“The only votes that really counted were the 3,900 delegates … nearly 1.1 million registered voters … and only 3,900 had their say,” former Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call said Monday in an interview on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”  “We should be opening our doors and welcoming people into our party, I am really concerned about how the voters are going to feel.”

The GOP presidential campaigns were acutely aware of the fact that these select states wouldn’t be holding contests and would only be selecting delegates — some took heed and others didn’t.

In fact, any campaign that is not putting forth a strong and organized ground game effort to get its supporters elected as delegates will undoubtedly end its chance at the White House. Cruz has now dominated in both Colorado and North Dakota, winning a combined total of 52 delegates whose support he will have on the first ballot at the GOP convention in July — drawing the ire of the GOP front-runner.

These delegate losses and out-organization to the Cruz campaign are troublesome for Trump as the GOP primary moves toward a contested convention — where every delegate will matter.