The effort to stop Donald Trump’s nomination is all but dead, as convention rules-writers soundly rejected a plan to allow delegates to vote for whoever they please next week.
The "conscience clause" lost on a voice vote late Thursday, a vote so one-sided that no roll call was sought. The NeverTrump idea survives, barely, because if supporters can gather enough support, they can force the convention to vote on their proposal.
Trump forces claimed a big victory.
"Anti-Trump people get crushed at Rules Committee. It was never in doubt: Convention will honor will of people & nominate," Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, tweeted.
Even if a convention vote occurs, it’s highly unlikely to pass. It would need a majority of the 2,742 convention delegates. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has 1,543 delegates bound to him on the first ballot, well above the 1,237 needed for nomination, or to change the rules.
NeverTrump forces claim only about 900 were truly committed to Trump. But their efforts fizzled badly in the Rules Committee, which is dominated by members loyal to Republican Chairman Reince Priebus.
John Ryder, the party’s general counsel, set the tone early in the week, telling delegates the law binds them to the candidates their voters and state parties selected. Priebus argued the politics, saying that a push against Trump will be lethal in a year Republicans have a decent shot at winning the White House.
Also hurting the NeverTrump effort was that no prominent Republican has come forward to hint he wants consideration as an alternative. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Ted Cruz has 559 delegates and has not endorsed Trump.
But his forces have made no effort to challenge the frontrunner at the convention. Cruz will speak at the convention. Trump promised him during a private meeting last week that Cruz would have a say in judicial policy.
Delegates were reluctant to go against voters. Trump won 13.3 million votes during the primaries
"If anyone but Trump won, he’d have a legitimate claim to say he was robbed," said Morton Blackwell, a veteran Virginia GOP committeeman.