Although there is much talk among political observers about the possibility of a brokered GOP convention in Tampa, Republican National Committee Communications Director Sean Spicer is not buying it.
“The last time we had a brokered convention was in the 1940’s, and we’re four contests in that have awarded delegates,” Mr. Spicer told me on Wednesday. “We are four weeks and four states into a process. I get that it’s the buzz, but I literally spend as much time worrying if some space alien attack happens.”
A brokered convention will happen if a candidate does not win enough delegates during the primary and caucus period to attain a pre-established majority during the first official ballot at the nominating convention. The last Republican brokered convention nominee was Thomas Dewey in 1948. However, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat, was the last brokered convention nominee to win the presidency in 1932.
Former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, though, is supportive of the idea of a brokered convention in August. She recently told Fox News Channel’s Eric Bolling, when he asked if she would still be interested in a White House run if a brokered convention were to happen in Tampa:
“Well for one, I think it could get to that. And if it had to be kind of closed up today, the whole nominating process…then we would be looking at a brokered convention. Nobody is quite there yet.” Palin then added, “So I think that months from now if that’s the case, then all bets are off as to who it will be willing to offer themselves up in the name of service to their country. I would do whatever I could to help.”
Palin also discussed what plans she had for her future and indicated to Bolling earlier in the interview that she wants to help the country in any way she could and if it meant “running for office at some point in the future, I’m game.”
However, a brokered convention, if the nominee is not already part of the major pool of Republican candidates, places whoever it may be in a difficult position, considering there would be two and a half months between the GOP convention and election day. Setting up a 50 state presidential campaign apparatus within that time period would be a monumental feat.
Marc Lampkin of the DC based QGA public affairs told me on Tuesday, “It becomes difficult for the candidate as the candidate to build an infrastructure. Most likely, it would mean they would have to take matching money which would probably put them at a huge disadvantage against Obama.”
Mr. Lampkin served as senior deputy campaign manager on the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign and a political operative at the 2000 Republican Convention.
“There’s a huge disadvantage if you don’t get the keys to the kingdom. You get your money and you’re limited only in that in that amount of money it takes you to get from matching funds.”
Lampkin, though, does point out that the Republican National Committee (RNC) is already working on a 50 state presidential election plan in terms of “building voter ID and identification activities.” Whoever is the GOP nominee, brokered convention or not, will already have the RNC’s built up infrastructure there for them.
“The legacy of the Michael Steele tenure means (the RNC) is a little bit in the hole, but I think that Reince Priebus has been doing a pretty good job in building out the infrastructure. That stuff you can do with non-presidential money,” said Lampkin.
“You can build out an apparatus. You can do your voter ID. You can do your voter contact. In fact, many of those things should be running in parallel even now. And that stuff you should be able take all off of hard dollars,” he added.
Super Pacs and other 527’s also make a difference in the 50 state presidential campaign infrastructure today. A brokered convention or non-brokered convention nominee would benefit from these entities as well, according to Lampkin.
“You’ll see it during the spring —of course, during the summer…all the way through the fall. (Super PACs) spend a lot of time energy and money doing party building activities..voter ID, voter turnouts,” explained Lampkin.
“You might think that it is a huge handicap to have a brokered convention to get to August to have a nominee. But I think there is some activity that can and should go on—not the least of which are these super PACs where you’ve got the wealthy or other individuals who have come together for the purpose, not so much around a candidate per se, as much as a common thread that they want to make Obama a one term president.”