More than 20 top GOP officials discussed at a dinner on Monday the party’s strategy in the event of a brokered convention amid Donald Trump’s consistent lead in the polls.
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) listened as several longtime party members argued the establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight if Trump storms through the presidential primaries, five sources familiar with the meeting told The Washington Post.
The sources said Priebus and McConnell were mostly silent during the deliberation and did not signal support for an explicit anti-Trump effort.
But both men did acknowledge that a stalemated convention is something the party should be ready for.
When asked on Thursday about the dinner, RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer told the post that the RNC is “neutral in this process and the rules are set until the convention begins next July.”
“Our goal is to ensure a successful nomination and that requires us thinking through every scenario, including a contested convention,” he added.
A brokered convention occurs when there are not enough delegates “won” during the presidential primaries for a single candidate to have a majority during the first official vote at a party’s nominating convention. The nomination is then decided though political deals between candidates, party bosses and subsequent votes until one candidate receives a majority.
Before the era of presidential primaries, political party conventions were routinely brokered. The most recent brokered convention nominees were Adlai Stevenson at the 1952 Democratic convention and Thomas Dewey at the 1948 Republican convention.
More recently, a brokered convention is mostly just a political junkie’s fantasy. The modern party primary system almost always determines an overwhelming winner of delegates. And as David Frum notes, it’s hard to imagine a “brokered convention” when there is no such thing as political “brokers” any more. Elected delegates to a convention aren’t going to be swayed by political leaders deciding the nominee in a backroom.