Donald Trump has spent much of the 2016 campaign complaining he’s being treated “unfairly.” The Republican National Committee hasn’t handled him with respect, he says. The other GOP candidates, and their establishment backers, are ganging up on him. The news media, starting with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, ask unfair questions and write unfair stories.
Now Mr. Trump’s steady patter of complaint has turned to rage, after his top competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, swept all 34 delegates at stake last weekend at Colorado’s state Republican convention – a forum in which the voters themselves had no direct input.
Political parties are private organizations, and not governed by the Constitution (which doesn’t even mention parties) or the Federal Election Commission. It’s up to the candidates, and their lawyers, to defend their own interests.
“If you want to crack the Da Vinci Code of this archaic language [on delegate rules] that few people understand, you’re going to have to start doing the nuts and bolts of politics,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Trump came very late to this realization.”
If Trump arrives at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July with the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination, then there’s little that Cruz and party insiders can do to stop him. But if Trump arrives short of 1,237, he is widely seen as doomed to fail. Most delegates will be free to vote as they please on subsequent ballots.
But already, Trump should be scolding himself, says Mr. O’Connell.
“In my opinion, he has been throwing away the nomination, because he’s been winging it,” he says. “I promise you, when he goes into a land deal, he’s got lawyers and accountants with him, and they dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t.’ Well, you’ve got to be able to do the same thing here” – with the delegate process – “even if the language and system are archaic.”