McFeely: ND Republican gives Trump conspiracy theorists ammunition

FARGO--The greatest fear of Donald Trump supporters--other than Mexicans and African-American protesters, I suppose--is that the Republican Party establishment is going to somehow submarine their guy at the national convention this summer to keep...

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FARGO--The greatest fear of Donald Trump supporters--other than Mexicans and African-American protesters, I suppose--is that the Republican Party establishment is going to somehow submarine their guy at the national convention this summer to keep him from being the presidential nominee. That somehow, the party elites who don't like Trump are going to wheel, deal and use obscure rules to deny the will of the people and instead nominate somebody like Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan.

Pish-posh, said us level-headed thinkers. The GOP would never be that arrogant and stupid. Trump is a machine. Millions are voting for him. He may not reach the required delegate number before the convention, but he'll be close and that's good enough. They can't deny him or there'll be chaos among the millions who've supported The Donald in primaries and caucuses in dozens of states.

These are just Trumpsters being Trumpsters, we said. They are coming up with wacky conspiracy theories because ... well ... they're Trumpsters.

Then along came Curly Haugland, a longtime Republican National Committee member from the great state of North Dakota. And Curly went ahead and used a national stage to confirm what Trump supporters have suspected all along.

"Political parties choose their nominee, not the general public," Haugland told CNBC's "Squawk Box" program Wednesday, March 16. "Contrary to popular belief."


Haugland was involved in a discussion with the show's hosts and fellow North Dakota GOP delegate Gary Emineth. The topic was Haugland's belief that Republicans would benefit from a brokered, or undecided, convention because they could use the rules to pick their nominee (i.e., not Trump). Haugland believes all delegates are unbound when they arrive at the convention, despite primaries and caucuses being held in states to determine delegates.

Haugland was quoted in a Forum News Service article this week saying he wants to "put an end to the notion that these stupid primaries are going to choose our nominee."

Haugland doubled-down on that sentiment on CNBC, to the astonishment of the hosts.

"The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination. That's the conflict," Haugland said.

A host asked: Then why are we holding the primaries?

"That's a very good question," Haugland said.

With that exchange, Haugland legitimized the consternation that all Trump supporters (and many others, to be fair) have about our political process: That the voice of the people doesn't count and party bosses will do what they want to do. Your vote, my Republican friends, doesn't matter.

The general belief, though, is that Trump has been so dominant in the primaries and will be so close to the magic number of 1,237 delegates needed to wrap up the nomination that Republican power brokers would be committing presidential-election suicide if they used shenanigans to rebuff him. Some North Dakota Republican Party officials were flooded with emails Wednesday from angry Trump supporters threatening all kinds of things if Haugland and his cronies pull a fast one, according to sources.


And that's the risk Republicans would face nationwide if Trump is close to the delegate count, but somehow doesn't end up with the nomination: All those angry voters who mobilized for their guy Donald, who want him to Make America Great Again, will vaporize into thin air on Election Day in November and Hillary Clinton will coast to the White House.

Even Emineth recognizes that and warned that inventing ways to stop Trump will "mess things up with the delegates. And people across the country will be very frustrated."

Haugland doesn't sound like he cares. He sounds like a guy who doesn't want Donald Trump to the be the Republican nominee.

"The rules haven't kept up," he said. "The rules are still designed to have a political party choose its nominee at a convention. That's just the way it is. I can't help it. Don't hate me because I love the rules."

On the contrary, Curly. We, particularly those of us just slightly left of center, don't hate you. This is wonderful.

The party of individualism telling its voters that the party is smarter than individuals.

The party that hates centralized rule using its national organization to override the wishes of states.

The party that decries overreach trying to bend rules and make new ones to get its way.


It's a Trump conspiracy theory come to life. Somebody pass the popcorn. This is going to be better than reality TV.

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