What Is "Free The Delegates"? The Group Is Doing Everything It Can To Stop Donald Trump
A sizable group of dissatisfied Republican National Committee members that goes by the name "Free the Delegates" plans to propose a new rule at this year's Republican National Convention that could reverse Donald Trump's primary wins. If the rule is passed, pledged delegates will be allowed to dissent from public opinion and follow their "conscience" instead. In more straightforward terms, it provides a loophole through which pledged delegates could vote as superdelegates. Although the effort is riling up the anti-Trump camp on both sides of the aisle, it's more likely to lend credence to Trump's past claims that the delegate selection process is stacked up against him.
Over the past week, the group has held two conference calls, the most recent of which was on Sunday. Steve Lonegan, "Free the Delegates" organizer and former mayor of Bogota, New Jersey, told CNN that the movement is growing quickly. According to him, nearly 1,000 people listened in on Sunday's conversation. That's a major jump from the alleged few dozen that participated in the group's first call just five days prior.
There will be a total of 2,472 Republican delegates at July's National Convention held in Cleveland, Ohio. Lonegan said that roughly 250 of them took part in the over-the-phone "meeting." Lonegan, a Tea Party affiliate, was also the New Jersey state chairman and a national spokesman for Ted Cruz's campaign.
On June 7, Lonegan was featured on CNN and said it was time the delegates break the rules and "unbind," explaining that Trump can't unite the Republican Party.
It's a moral obligation for the delegates in that convention to nominate the best candidate to beat Hillary Clinton. It's clearly not Donald Trump ... This guy is gonna lose, and he's gonna take the Republican Party down to a cataclysmic defeat.
Though he's not the only Republican politician unwilling to embrace Trump's impending nomination, RNC members have dismissed his efforts as futile. Two hundred and fifty delegates represent just slightly over a tenth of the Republican delegation, rendering their pleas insignificant. RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told CNN the possibility of throwing Trump out of the game at this point is fictional.
I've also heard about Area 51, I've heard about Elvis sightings, I've heard a lot of things. The extent of this effort is a bunch of random people tweeting about it, full stop.
In fact, Lonegan's rule proposal could backfire, adding fuel to Trump's supporters who are already angry with the system. If the rule comes to fruition, it won't be the first time Trump has gained media attention and even votes by boldly criticizing the delegate selection process. During a rally in Albany, New York, in April, Trump condemned the Republican delegate selection process for being "rigged." Later at a town hall meeting in New York City, he told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the system was stacked against him.
They changed the rules a number of months ago. You know why they changed the rules? Because they saw how I was doing and they didn't like it.
Free the Delegates is currently trying to gather all of the supporters it can — citizen or delegate. Their official website, FreeTheDelegates.com, is organized similarly to a petition. The Washington Post reported that the group is planning on raising money for a staff and legal defense fund. It might be a last minute effort, but they're giving it all they have.