Is the fix already in to deny Donald Trump the Republican nomination? That theory is being promulgated by Roger Stone, a long-time Republican operative and Trump supporter.
The idea is that when the delegates from each state are selected to go to the Republican National Convention many of them will be Trump delegates in name only, or what Stone calls “Trojan horse delegates.” They will be obligated to vote for Trump on the first ballot. But afterwards, provided that Trump fails to secure the nomination, they will be free to vote for the person they support on the second ballot.
Who would that person be? The conspiracy theory being offered by talk show host Sean Hannity and others that the Republican establishment is plotting to parachute a “compromise” candidate in (Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan for example) is likely a nonstarter.
The Republican rank and file would revolt at the spectacle of someone who has not even run, not to mention gotten any votes, being foisted as a nominee. That leaves the likely second place candidate, Ted Cruz, to receive the faithless Trump delegates to add to his own to put him over the top.
Just to sweeten the scheme, the Trojan horse delegates will vote as they please during the rules debate, not necessarily to the advantage of Trump.
What would be the result of this bit of backroom intrigue? We shall undoubtedly be treated to the spectacle of one of Trump’s famous rages, both in public and on social media. The response of the Republican Party might be, “Well, Mr. Art of the Deal, you just got outmaneuvered. Now go home and deal with it.”
The more significant problem will be how Trump’s followers will react? Will they stay mad and stay home? Or will Cruz, now the Republican nominee, be able to persuade enough of them that the main mission is beating Hillary Clinton and that, besides, he will be able to do much of what Trump has pledged to do anyway.