TV news operations suddenly sprang to life when the ho-hum-ness of dayside political conventioneering appeared to go off the rails over efforts to get a vote on changing some party rules. The Donald Trump camp and RNC squashed the move like a bug, but not before the presiding official appeared to panic and abandon the stage, which might have been a convention first.
Critics of Trump had attempted to force a roll call vote of convention delegates on proposed rules written last week by confab committee. Among the rules is a requirement for pledged delegates to vote in accordance with the results of their state’s primaries and caucuses, guaranteeing Trump’s nomination.
Never Trump-ers and others early today submitted signatures from a majority of delegates in Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Washington, D.C., to trigger a vote.
But after a close voice vote, Womack declared the rules approved. Very vocal outrage ensued on the floor, as did Trump-fan overshouting. Womack appeared to become frightened – anyway, he left the stage which.
“This is surreal; the chair walked off the stage – he abandoned his post!” Utah Sen. Mike Lee marveled to CNN’s Dana Bash. Lee was among those who had wanted a vote.
Cable news pundits chewed on it for a while, with old-timers reminiscing happily about the good old days when this kind of behavior was pretty standard stuff. Some time later, Womack returned to the stage and tried to restore dignity – his and the convention’s.
“I need your help, and your cooperation,” Womack said sternly, calling for another crack at the voice vote. “The chair would remind the hall it is critical we are able to discern the ‘ayes’ from the ‘nays.’
“Those in favor of the rules package will say ‘aye.’”
“Those opposed say ‘No.'”
“In the opinion of the chair, the ‘ayes’ have it,” he announced. Again.
After which he said three states had pulled their support for a roll-call vote. Although the Never Trump-ers were destined to lose, the roll-call vote would have made for good TV, dramatizing anti-Trump feelings that continue within the party.
As Bash returned to interview Lee, who insisted they had gotten the majority of delegates in more states than acknowledged, they were circled by Trump fans who began screaming at them, trying to drown them out on camera.
MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff, meanwhile, spoke with former New Hampshire Sen. Gordon Humphrey on the convention floor about the failure to force a roll call. “You just saw the second-most important item of business rushed through in a split second with no opportunity for debate, no opportunity for questions, no opportunity for points of order and no roll-call vote, although 9 states under the rules requested a roll call vote, demanded a roll-call vote and should have been accorded that,” Humphrey said.
He called it pretty shocking and shameful, saying, “This is not a meeting of the Republican National Committee. This is a meeting of brown shirts … people who act like fascists. They might not be fascists, but they act like fascists. They have the lack of manners of fascists, and in this respect they are only too reflective of Donald Trump himself.”