RNC Wraps Up Final Meeting Before National Convention

Apr 22, 2016
Originally published on April 22, 2016 7:36 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The Republican National Committee is wrapping up its last official meeting before the party convention in Cleveland this July. Like everyone else watching the Republican primary race, the conversation has been all about whether Republicans will have a nominee before July or if they'll have to fight it out on the convention floor. NPR's congressional reporter Susan Davis joins us now from the RNC meeting in Hollywood, Fla. Hello there.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Kelly.

MCEVERS: So do RNC members think that Donald Trump will lock up this nomination before July?

DAVIS: You know, I've talked to a lot of delegates here in the past couple of days, and certainly a significant number of them think that he has a very good shot at locking up the nomination before the convention. Overall, though, I feel like the predominant feeling among delegates is they just don't want this to be a messy process. If Donald Trump is going to win the nomination, they want him to win it clean. If it's going to be a contested convention, they want it to be orderly. They want it be civil. And they want to make the party look good at the end of the day.

Now, all three of the remaining Republicans - John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump - were either here or had campaign surrogates here pitching the delegates, making their case, telling them how they think they can win the nomination. The one that probably got the most attention is Donald Trump's. One of his new top campaign aides - a guy named Paul Manafort - was here. And he met privately with delegates, but his comments were leaked by some of those delegates that were in the room. And he said, look, I know some of you have concerns about Donald Trump, but the Donald Trump you see now is going to be different in the general election. He won't be so brash. He's going to be presidential, and he can win.

MCEVERS: You know, you talk about how they want it to be clean, but the very nature of a contested convention means it's contested. I mean, this has been a pretty divided race. What is the mood like now? Is there a sense that that's changing?

DAVIS: You know, when I came down here, I thought there was going to be a lot more fireworks. And I've been somewhat surprised by how organized and civil but it's been down here. But then, you have to remember that the Republican National Committee - it's 168 people. And these 168 people are party loyalists, party activists.

You know, their main job, of course, is to elect a president, but their job is also to protect the party. And one of the things - I've talked to a lot of delegates here - is it's all about unity. They keep saying they have to unite behind nominee. And that was a message that the RNC chairman, Reince Priebus, really hit home today in his closing remarks. And we have some of his comments now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

REINCE PRIEBUS: Out candidates are running for the nomination of the Republican Party. They're trying out for our team. No one is forcing them to wear our jersey. We expect our candidates to support our party and our eventual nominee.

DAVIS: So, you know, what Reince Priebus is saying there to the candidates is saying, look, when you become the nominee, the rest of you have to get behind it. And he's saying to the delegates, no matter who it is, we need to get behind them if we want to win in November.

MCEVERS: That's NPR's congressional reporter Susan Davis. Thank you.

DAVIS: Thanks, Kelly. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.