Proposed rules changes were set to be a component of the meeting, set for a beachside resort in Hollywood, Fla. three months before the start of the July gathering, amid other discussions about preparing for a convention without a presumptive nominee.
But RNC Chairman Reince Priebus issued the equivalent of a “stop work” order to the RNC’s rules committee on efforts to even tweak the rules in light of Trump’s recent charge that the establishment is “rigging” the nomination. While the rules committee will still meet, Priebus and top RNC members have been lobbying members to avoid making any recommendations to be adopted for the Cleveland convention that could further jeopardize the party’s standing with skeptical voters.
“It’s not about rule changes—it’s about optics this week,” one committee-member told TIME. “Any rules discussion at all gives credence to Trump’s claims and undercuts the ‘RNC is just an administrator’ talking points. It’s best to let delegates absolutely own any rule changes in Cleveland.”
Trump remains the front-runner in the Republican primary, but his path to winning the 1,237 delegates he needs tow in a majority and secure the nomination outright has narrowed. The better-organized Ted Cruz campaign, has outworked Trump to secure first-ballot delegates, most recently in Wyoming, while Trump rivals have implanted scores of their supporters among his delegates to the convention, laying the groundwork for a showdown on the convention floor. In response, Trump criticized the delegate selection process as undemocratic and said the RNC will face a “rough July” if he’s denied the nomination.
Facing harsh criticism from front-runner Donald Trump, the Republican National Committee has all-but ceased efforts to update the rules that govern the upcoming convention in preparation for the first potential contested gathering in more than a generation.