Politics & Policy

Trump Has No One But Himself to Blame for a Weak Ground Game

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

On March 1, the Colorado Republican party prepared for 60,000 voters to arrive at nearly 3,000 precinct-caucus sites across the state. Those voters would select men and women to attend the party’s county assemblies and congressional district conventions, in the the first step of a multi-part process that determined 34 of Colorado’s 37 delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

To hear Donald Trump and his fans tell it, those tens of thousands of Republicans never arrived, never made their choices, and never had the chance to play a role in selecting the party’s delegates. Matt Drudge, the populist Right’s news-aggregating provocateur, contends that Colorado Republicans were given less opportunity to vote than Iraqis. Perhaps, he muses, “George Bush has to invade Colorado to make it a democracy.”

And yet, in high-school cafeterias, churches, and other community centers, registered Republicans in the Centennial State got together and cast votes that March evening. Those they chose went on to county assemblies and district conventions. At the seven congressional district conventions, held the first week in April, the attending delegates selected three national delegates and three alternates who will head to Cleveland. At the county assemblies, held throughout March, attendees selected more than 600 people to compete for the 13 at-large delegate slots filled at the state convention this past weekend.

Trump’s tantrum on Twitter obscured the fact that eight of the elected alternates said they would support him if given an opportunity to vote in Cleveland. But the story of Colorado is similar to the story that has played itself out in several other states this cycle: Ted Cruz and his campaign read the rules beforehand, organized to ensure their people packed the local conventions, and emerged victorious.

RELATED: The Trump Campaign Belatedly Realizes How Colorado Picks Its Delegates

Quite a few Trump fans are insisting this morning that by having Colorado Republicans vote for delegates to subsequent conventions, the state party denied them a say in selecting the party’s presidential nominee. But most candidates for delegate were open about whom they supported. Cruz’s campaign set out to make sure its supporters showed up and voted for friendly delegates. Why was it so impossible for Trump’s campaign to do the same?

#share#Team Trump had ample opportunity to prepare for this eventuality. The state party’s rules were adopted all the way back in September and posted online. The Colorado GOP went out of its way to help the public understand the process, publishing simplified question-and-answer fact sheets on its website. Colorado media extensively covered how the caucus process works and what people needed to do to participate.

Despite all that advanced warning, Trump’s campaign assumed he was invincible, and failed to organize at local and state conventions. Now, faced with the unpleasant reality of their tactical blunders, Trump and his team are reduced to arguing that any unfavorable outcome is a triumph of underhanded “Gestapo tactics.”

#related#It’s hard to feel sorry for anyone who claims the process is foul because they don’t like its result. If winning the presidency is as important to Donald Trump as he says, one would think he would have looked more seriously at just how the presidency is won. Instead, he waited until late March to hire a staffer dedicated to securing delegates. Trump and his fans keep insisting he’s among the smartest, shrewdest, most competent men to ever seek the White House, yet his campaign keeps getting blindsided by rules that have been posted in plain sight for almost a year.

For ten months, Trump’s magnetic personality has kept him afloat, obliterating all the lingering unpleasantness contained in the fine print of his public pronouncements. Now, the fine print is having its revenge.

— Jim Geraghty is the senior political correspondent for National Review.

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