A Fox News poll showing Donald Trump has widened his lead nationally in the race for the Republican presidential nomination comes on the heels of the real-estate billionaire’s condemnation of the Colorado GOP decision to elect delegates to the party convention without holding a popular vote.
Trump leaped from a three-point lead three weeks ago to an 18-point lead over Sen. Ted Cruz in the latest national poll by the network. The survey showed Trump leading the Texas senator 45-27 percent among GOP primary voters, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich third with 25 percent.
Trump erupted Monday in an interview with “Fox & Friends” after Cruz swept all of Colorado’s 34 delegates.
“I’ve gotten millions … of more votes than [Sen. Ted] Cruz, and I’ve gotten hundreds of delegates more, and we keep fighting, fighting, fighting, and then you have a Colorado where they just get all of these delegates, and it’s not [even] a system,” Trump said. “There was no voting. I didn’t go out there to make a speech or anything. There’s no voting.”
In an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Trump recounted his complaint against the Colorado GOP, asking Americans, “How has the ‘system’ been working out for you and your family?”
Trump wrote: “I, for one, am not interested in defending a system that for decades has served the interest of political parties at the expense of the people. Members of the club – the consultants, the pollsters, the politicians, the pundits and the special interests –grow rich and powerful while the American people grow poorer and more isolated.”
He took aim at Cruz, writing that his rival has “toured the country bragging about his voterless victory in Colorado.”
“For a man who styles himself as a warrior against the establishment (you wouldn’t know it from his list of donors and endorsers), you’d think he would be demanding a vote for Coloradans. Instead, Mr. Cruz is celebrating their disenfranchisement,” Trump wrote.
Trump said that while his campaign strategy is to “win with the voters,” Cruz’s is “to win despite them.”
“We will run a campaign based on empowering voters, not sidelining them,” Trump vowed.
He urged making Colorado “a rallying cry on behalf of all the forgotten people whose desperate pleas have for decades fallen on the deaf ears and closed eyes of our rulers in Washington, D.C.”
“The political insiders have had their way for a long time. Let 2016 be remembered as the year the American people finally got theirs,” he said.
Campaigns responsible for understanding rules
Responding to Trump’s complaint that the nomination process is “rigged,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus argued in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday that the rules “were put out there over a year ago.”
“It’s up to the campaigns to understand them,” he said.
There’s no need for reform, as Trump insists, Priebus said.
“I mean the system has been around for a long time. It was good enough for Abraham Lincoln. I think it’s good enough for whoever our nominee is going to be,” Priebus said. “So, look, this is democracy in action.”
Priebus acknowledged the nomination process “isn’t easy.”
“I’m not trying to claim it isn’t, and there is drama, but that’s what our party needs to do,” he said. “We need to come together. We need to pick a nominee.”
Breitbart News reported volunteers at the Colorado Republican Assembly are claiming their selection process was full of errors that disadvantaged some Trump supporters who sought to become national delegates.
The volunteers said the errors might have violated state laws and affected some of the results.
In Louisiana, angry unbound delegates charged media falsely reported they had decided to back Cruz over Trump, the Hill reported.
Trump narrowly beat Cruz in the March 5 primary, with each candidate winning 18 delegates. But the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets reported that the five state party leaders who will attend the Republican convention and the five delegates who were formerly pledged to Marco Rubio were planning to support Cruz.
In response, Trump said he would sue the Louisiana state party and seek to have the delegates disqualified.
“I’m reading all over social media and the press that we’re going one way as a group, but that’s just not accurate,” said Luke Letlow, a Rubio delegate who is chief of staff for Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La. “It’s left us to get the message out that we haven’t chosen a side and that we remain uncommitted.”
In Georgia, an Atlanta Journal Constitution political blog team warned that the Trump state director who sounded the alarm about losing Trump delegates after Trump won Georgia by more than 14 points might be too late.
On Saturday, Republicans gather by congressional district to select more than half of the 76 delegates and alternates who will attend the convention.
Trump state director Brandon Phillips wrote in an email Thursday, “We’re asking that the Republican officials honor his victory this Saturday with fair representation.”
Phillips listed Trump coordinators in the 14 congressional districts and then asked: “If you are willing to attend one of these meetings this Saturday morning and show your support for Mr. Trump, please contact the volunteer coordinator nearest you.”
But the AJC.com blog noted that the selection of delegates is now a closed process.
“If you weren’t selected as a congressional convention delegate last month at the county-level meetings, you will have no standing at Saturday’s gatherings. Other than as a spectator.”
The blog noted the fear is that Trump’s 42 delegates from Georgia are being “chosen according their willingness to desert the billionaire as quickly as possible in Cleveland.”
Voters will ‘rise up’
The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has endorsed Trump, warned that if Republican power brokers try to take the nomination away from Trump or Cruz, voters will “rise up” in opposition.
She told the Associated Press that Republican voters have the right to decide the party’s nominee and won’t be fooled by party leaders.
“How dare they?” Palin asked, denouncing “arrogant political operatives who underestimate the wisdom of the people.”
If party leaders try to intervene at the July convention, “we will rise up and say our vote does count, our activism does count,” she said.
Palin said promises by party leaders that the nominee will be chosen from among the candidates running for the White House give her no comfort.
“There are some snakes in there,” she said of party leaders. “I’ve had to deal with the political machinery my whole career.”
In an opinion piece, Will Rahn, a political correspondent and managing director of politics for CBS News Digital, said it makes no sense to him that the Republican nomination can be taken from Trump at a contested convention.
“It’s not that it would be unfeasible for Ted Cruz or some other candidate to win a majority of delegates after the first ballot is cast at the convention,” he said. “If anything, it seems more and more likely that Cruz, given his shrewdness at delegate selection, would be able to pull this off as early as the second ballot.”
But Rahn said that if Trump arrives in Cleveland having won the most votes, the most contests and the most delegates, “depriving him of the nomination would be an unprecedented move in the modern political era.”
“And doing so would likely end in disaster not only for the GOP as a whole but its anti-Trump wing in particular,” he said.
“Should the Republican nomination be awarded to Cruz or John Kasich, it would be wildly out of step with the tradition of letting primary voters decide in practice who their candidate should be. Moreover, explaining this outcome would be enormously difficult to explain to the already dwindling number of voters willing to register Republican,” Rahn wrote.
“Trump’s argument, in this scenario, will be simple, clean, and easy to understand: I won the most delegates, the most votes, the most contests, and they stole the nomination from me.”