Republican presidential candidates, from left, Lindsey Graham, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Scott Walker confer after a forum, Aug. 3, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. (Photo: Jim Cole/AP)
The idea of a convention insurgency against Donald Trump continues to loom as a possibility, but one Republican governor who had been floated as a possible leader of any rebellion in Cleveland against Trump took himself out of the running for any such role this week.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told the state press corps he’d like to speak at the GOP’s four-day convention that starts July 18, and hinted Wednesday that his decision to reverse course and support Trump was based on his belief that any effort by the roughly 400 anti-Trump delegates out of the 2,472 headed to Cleveland has no chance to wrest the nomination away from the presumptive nominee.
“It’s now clear who the RNC delegates will vote to nominate. And he is better than she is,” Walker wrote on his Twitter account, implying that up until recently, he thought the effort to stop Trump had some chance of succeeding.
However, there are delegates from Walker’s own state of Wisconsin, as well as from Colorado and New Jersey, who are heading up an anti-Trump plan. There are different accounts of how close they are to having enough votes on the 112-member rules committee to force a vote on the convention floor to unbind delegates from the results of the primary and allow them to vote for someone other than Trump.
And the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the effort is “remarkably close to getting past the first hurdle.”
Less than a month ago, Walker said it was “just sad in America that we have such poor choices right now,” referring to Trump and Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee. And he said two weeks ago that delegates should vote in Cleveland according to their conscience, and not necessarily according to the popular vote in their state’s primary.”
But just as Walker took himself out of the anti-Trump conversation, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has hinted he’d like to enter it.
Kasich told the Washington Post’s Dan Balz Tuesday that delegates should not automatically vote for Trump in Cleveland. “They have to weigh their responsibilities against their consciences, and then make a decision about what they want to do,” Kasich said.
Adding further to the intrigue, an email was sent out Tuesday from Kasich’s campaign — which he suspended in May but did not formally end — that touted the results of an NBC News poll that came out the same day that showed Kasich beating Clinton by 8 points in a general-election matchup.
“Perhaps most surprising are the results of a Clinton vs. Kasich November matchup,” said the portion of the NBC News article that was included in the Kasich campaign’s email. It cited Kasich’s ability to win over larger numbers of Democratic and Independent voters than either the 2012 Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, or House Speaker Paul Ryan.
John Weaver, who ran Kasich’s presidential campaign, said, “No one is stoking the idea of Kasich running against Hillary, other than, I guess, NBC, who did one survey, and the other news outlets. We are not.”
“We are showing that a positive, inclusive, conservative reform agenda is the right one for Republicans running down-ballot. And that Kasich, the most popular Republican in the country, will be a positive force in trying to help us keep control of Congress, etc.,” Weaver said.
But Tim Miller, a spokesman for an anti-Trump group, Our Principles PAC, said that Kasich was “basically signaling that, should there be some sort of revolt, his name will be in the mix.”
Miller also said that Walker and Kasich both seemed to be staking out positions with an eye on how it would affect another run for president in 2020.
“Walker’s calculation is that Hillary is going to be president, and you need to be the one out there who is fighting her,” Miller said.