“Romney Rule” Coming Back to Haunt GOP Establishment

FedUp PAC StaffTed Cruz Texas Senator

The scene four years ago at the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, was just about everything a Washington Republican insider could hope for. Establishment darling Mitt Romney came to Tampa having wrapped up the GOP presidential nomination well before the convention. As GOP elites swooned over Romney’s choice of establishment superstar Paul Ryan to complete the Republican ticket, the convention was quickly turning into a drama-free coronation of the establishment’s dream team. That is, until libertarian Congressman Ron Paul tried to crash the party.

Congressman Paul opposed Mitt Romney in a number of Republican presidential primaries and caucuses in 2012 before halting active campaigning in May of that year to concentrate on securing delegates before the convention. Paul ended up with commitments from enough state delegations to have his name placed in nomination at the Tampa convention despite the fact that he had no chance of actually winning.

Even so, the idea of the firebrand anti-big government libertarian Paul earning national TV exposure at the convention was too much for Romney’s establishment coat-holders to bear. At the last minute, they rammed through a change in party rules so that a candidate would need a majority of the delegates in at least eight state delegations in order for his name to be placed in nomination. Congressman Paul did not qualify under what quickly became known as the “Romney rule.” As a result, Mr. Paul was effectively shut out of a meaningful role at the 2012 GOP convention.

Four years later, the shoe is on the other foot. Under the Romney rule, outsider candidate Donald Trump has already won enough primaries and caucuses combined to have his name placed in nomination. Fellow outsider Ted Cruz is also expected qualify by the time the primary season ends on June 7 in California.

What’s more, the Romney rule prohibits a candidate who did not run in the primaries from having his name placed in nomination. In the event that none of the three remaining active candidates goes to the July convention in Cleveland with the necessary majority of 1,237 delegates, the resulting deadlock would not allow a “consensus” alternative like Paul Ryan or Romney himself handpicked by GOP power brokers to come to the establishment’s rescue.

A possibly deadlocked GOP convention won’t help the Republican establishment one bit unless they manage to cancel the Romney rule before it comes back to haunt them. If a March 30 Politico report is any indication, GOP elites are preparing to do exactly that. According to the headline in Politico, four early appointees to the convention’s rules committee are “eager to scrap rule that helps Trump.” However, the Romney rule will also help Ted Cruz once he reaches the eight-state threshold the rule requires of a candidate to make it onto the convention ballot. The Republican establishment hates both Trump and Cruz, so the Politico report should surprise no one.

As Politico explains it, “if the [rules] committee scraps the requirement entirely, it could open the door to multiple candidates, possibly even some who never entered the primaries, competing for the party’s nomination at a brokered convention. And even a lower threshold would make it easier for Trump’s rivals to challenge him.” No wonder the establishment is hoping to stack the rules committee with “Romney rule” opponents.

It stands to reason that Republican delegates committed to Trump and Cruz will have a lot to say about the establishment’s attempt to change the rules in the middle of the game. But if there’s one thing grassroots conservatives can always count on, it’s that GOP elites will go to any lengths to preserve their power and influence. So get ready for an all-out battle at the July Republican convention. Now that the “Romney rule” does not serve their interests, Republican insiders will do whatever they can to make it go away.