A further significant development in the Republican nomination saga. We now know who will comprise the party’s Rules Committee, which will meet on July 14th to lay out the rules governing their convention four days later. They have the power to kill any Stop Trump moves stone dead, or bring them to life.
It is a pretty safe bet that Trump did not choose, or have any influence, over these appointments. There is nothing to suggest the chair Enid Mickelsen is well disposed towards the presumptive nominee. She is already on record as saying Trump wasn’t an appropriate role model for children.
She is a former Congresswoman from Utah – a state that overwhelmingly rejected Trump in it’s primary and provides some of his worst general election numbers. Mickelsen is a Mormon – yet another demographic amongst whom Trump has dire poll numbers, especially since he questioned the sincerity of 2012 candidate Mitt Romney’s faith.
Most interestingly, Mickelsen is also a friend of Romney, who has promised to do anything within political bounds to stop Trump. Co-chair Ron Kaufman is another potential Romney ally.
It’s hard to read these appointments as anything other than a signal of intent. A provocation or at least a warning. Trump was blaming Jeb Bush for plotting against him at the weekend. On past form, he’ll struggle to resist attacking Romney and these rules officials.
Fixing the rules committee doesn’t ensure the rules being changed – that will be down to the delegates themselves. As I wrote on Friday, they are impossible to accurately predict at this stage. However past form also suggests Trump won’t have made much meaningful effort to win over these delegates, who may hold the key to his fate.
This story seems set to run through to the convention and the market is not done yet. Trump has drifted to 1.16 in recent days for the nomination – an unprecedented weak level for a presumptive nominee at this stage. (By comparison, Hillary Clinton is 1.04). To reiterate past advice, the best placed alternatives by far are Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan.