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Monday, April 18, 2016

As Republican convention nears, all eyes on the magic number

As Republican convention nears, all eyes on the magic number
By Rebecca Savransky - 04-17-16 13:53 PM EDT

With the possibility of a contested presidential convention, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus is standing by party rules, while Donald Trump's campaign says the Republican front-runner will win outright.

Priebus said Sunday on CNN that a candidate will need to have 1,237 delegates ahead of the Republican convention in July to secure the nomination. That number is unlikely to change, he said.

"Having a plurality of the delegates means the field has the majority. You have to have the majority, it's the United States of America," Priebus said on CNN's "State of the Union." "The majority rules, and that is an American concept I can't imagine us turning our backs on."

The state parties are the ones who decide their individual delegates processes, he said, not the RNC.

"The process has been going on for a month in each of the state's where there's been a convention," Priebus said. "It's not a matter of party insiders. It's a matter of 2,400 grass-roots activists, and whatever they want to do, they can do."

Trump has recently ramped up his attacks against the RNC. Trump on Saturday threatened a "rough July" for the RNC if it doesn't "straighten out" the delegate system.

"Because I'll tell you what: You're going to have a rough July at that convention," Trump said Saturday at a rally in New York.

"You better get going, and you better straighten out the system because the people want their vote, the people want to vote, and they want to be represented properly."

The front-runner also accused party officials of "canceling the vote" in Colorado. The state had a convention to award delegates as opposed to a primary or caucus, and rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz swept the state, taking all 34 delegates.

Cruz also won a large portion of Wyoming's delegates in its convention.

Priebus said he's not taking Trump's attacks on the party personally.

"The RNC doesn't have the authority to change the rules even if we wanted to, and each candidate has to know the rules, learn the rules, and abide by the rules and ultimately the majority will decide everything in Cleveland," Priebus said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"I don't take it personally ... because I kind of just rest in the truth," Priebus said. "And, you know, it matters when something is right and something is wrong to me."

But even as Trump slams the party and the primary process, his campaign officials are confident that the front-runner will get to the number of delegates necessary ahead of the convention.

Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said Cruz will have no chance of getting to the required number of delegates ahead of the convention.

"By the end of this month, in the next two weeks, Donald Trump will add an additional 200 delegates to his total. He is the presumptive front-runner right now. He is the presumptive front-runner going forward," Lewandowski said on "Fox News Sunday."

"And Ted Cruz is going to be mathematically eliminated from securing 1,237 delegates by next Tuesday."

He called on the party to unite behind Trump's campaign.

"If that's the case and everyone has the same goal, which is to put a Republican inside the White House for the first time in eight years, they should unite behind Donald Trump," he said.

He said he expects Trump will do very well in New York, where he is polling above rivals Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Cruz by a large margin. Trump has a 29-point lead over Kasich, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls. He has 52.2 percent support. Kasich has 23.2 percent in the state, and Cruz comes in last with 17.8 percent.

"He's going to be the Republican nominee. Anything they're going to do to potentially stop him from being that is going to be detrimental. There is one person in this race that still is running that's not mathematically eliminated from getting 1,237 delegates, and that's Donald Trump," he said.

Trump is the only person who can beat the Democratic candidate, he added.

"If the party wants a winner, then they need to support Donald Trump."

Trump's chief delegate strategist, Paul Manafort, echoed the comments, saying Trump will win the nomination on the first ballot.

"There's not going to be a second ballot," Manafort said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

"There are many paths to 1,237 for Donald Trump ... and we are working all of those paths."

He slammed Cruz, saying his campaign can only win "the reddest of red states where you have voterless primaries." Trump wins in the states "where we have to win to win a presidency," he said.

He also defended Trump's recent comments about the system being rigged.

"When I say rigged system, I'm talking about a closed system - a system that keeps the voters from participating," he said.

"Because what this election has shown is that when voters participate, Donald Trump wins."

He accused the Cruz campaign of not playing by the rules, adding that Trump is following the rules and winning. Last weekend, Manafort saidCruz's campaign was using "Gestapo tactics" to lure delegates.

"We're trying to let voters decide ... who the nominee should be, not the party bosses," Manafort said Sunday.

"That's the system of the 1920s, not 2016."

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