CLEVELAND — A last try to deny Donald Trump the GOP presidential nomination failed Monday afternoon after a rowdy unscripted back and forth, as the rules locking in Trump were gaveled into place.
The drama unfolded just after 4 p.m. on the first day of the convention when Rules Committee Chair Enid Mickelsen called for the rules to be adopted on a voice vote.
That prompted a shouting match between the anti-Trump delegates and the New York billionaire’s supporters with many delegates jumping out of their seats to make their voices heard.
The protests prompted a second voice vote.
The Ohio delegation — loyalists to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who folded his GOP presidential bid last May and who is not backing Trump and not planning to attend the convention — sat mainly in their seats.
The rules package that was adopted calls for delegates to remain bound to their candidate, meaning they cannot vote their “conscience.” The theory here is that Trump would not have the vote to become the nominee if his bound delegates were set free.
A few minutes after Mickelsen tried to dispatch the anti-Trump forces, the convention’s presiding officer, Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., in a surprise move put the rules to a vote, perhaps to mollify the protestors.
After that, the way events unfolded signaled that the Trump campaign knew the rules package they wanted would stay intact.
Womack asked if “anybody was seeking recognition,” and then called on the chair of the anti-Trump Utah delegation, who called for a roll call vote, prompting a round of loud “boos.”
Womack invoked a rule that nine states were needed to sign on to a roll call, and in what turned out to be a bit of a head fake, said there were indeed nine states lined up — but then, Womack said, three states withdrew.
With that, the chair found “insufficient support” for a voice vote, triggering a wave of “We want Trump” chants.
After a call for the ayes and naes — and each side was pretty loud in the cavernous arena — Womack said the ayes have it, and so does Trump.