The Corner

Why the South Carolina Delegate Intrigue Is Less Than It Appears to Be

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Why the South Carolina Delegate Intrigue Is Less Than It Appears to Be

At first glance, this looks like a good, intriguing controversy . . . 

The Palmetto State was one of several that required candidates to pledge their loyalty to the party’s eventual nominee in order to secure a slot on the primary ballot. Though Trump won all of the state’s delegates in the Februaary 20 primary, anti-Trump forces are plotting to contest their binding to Trump because of his threat on the pledge Tuesday.

The loyalty pledge is nothing new in South Carolina, where it has been required for decades, but took on new focus in light of Trump’s public musings about a third-party run or withdrawing his support from the eventual nominee if he is stopped at a contested convention.

When asked about if he still would pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee during a town hall Tuesday with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Trump said “No. I don’t anymore,” adding that he has been “treated very unfairly.”

For what it’s worth, South Carolina Republican-party chairman Matt Moore declared on Twitter, “Regarding delegate questions today: To be clear, no one is seeking to unbind ANY of South Carolina’s national delegates.”

But this is probably going to be moot. Let’s say Trump goes into Cleveland with 1,237 ballots or more. Under that scenario, he’s obviously going to honor his pledge to “support the nominees and platform of the Republican Party in the November 8, 2016 general election” — he’ll have a solid claim to be the nominee because he won the required number of delegates, and he’ll be supporting himself. Could the South Carolina delegates claim, “Well, back in March, you told CNN you wouldn’t support the nominee, so based on that off-the-cuff comment, we’re free to break the one thing we’re explicitly obligated to do under the party rules”? Sure, they could try, but if you think Trump supporters are outraged now, imagine how they’ll be when they have a legitimate claim that the nomination has been taken from them.

Next let’s assume the more likely scenario, that Trump goes into Cleveland with the most delegates but fewer than 1,237. Then, none of this matters, because delegates from South Carolina are bound only on the first ballot:

After that first ballot, the delegates are free to support whomever they like — Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, or some other option.

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