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Trump campaign tightens grip on delegate process ahead of convention

Trump, RNC raise $125 in Q3
Trump, RNC raise $125 in Q3 09:03

Washington — The Trump campaign has completed an intensive, months-long project working with states to alter delegate rules with the goal of strengthening President Trump's position in the primaries, convention and general election, campaign officials said Monday.

Even as the president washes out lesser-known GOP primary opponents like Bill Weld and Joe Walsh in polling, 37 states have made legislative or other significant rule changes to their primary processes, a Trump campaign official told reporters on a conference call to discuss political strategy on Monday. The Trump campaign insisted on not identifying the officials as a condition of participating in the call. 

South Carolina, Kansas and Nevada have canceled their GOP primaries ahead of an October 1 deadline to submit delegate selection rules to the Republican National Committee, drawing outrage from some of the president's critics. But one Trump campaign official argued the "nuanced changes" the campaign has encouraged — like changing the minimum threshold eligibility for delegates or adding a winner-take-all trigger — is "more impactful" than canceling primaries. 

The Trump campaign contends the rule changes are meant to make the process more "efficient" for state Republican parties, and strengthen the president's position in the general election, not quash dissent.

"This is about the general election," a Trump campaign official said, adding the moves are "not being done from a position of weakness." 

But in order to place the president in the strongest position for the general election, one campaign official said the goal was to make sure the convention in Charlotte "is a four-day television commercial for 300 million Americans, and not an internal debate among a few thousand activists."

The rule changes, although long in the works, also come as Democrats' impeachment inquiry ramps up, and public support for an investigation increases

The Trump campaign and RNC have a leg up on any Democratic contender when it comes to fundraising. The Trump campaign and RNC raised $125 million in the third quarter of 2019, raising $308 million for 2019 to date with $156 million cash on hand. 

Eleanor Watson contributed to this report.

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