Republicans who think they can draft an eleventh-hour alternative to front-runner Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz are pushing a dumb idea that is “never going to work,” the party’s top official said Sunday, throwing cold water on voices that say it is not to late to pick a candidate with broader appeal.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said “no one truly serious” thinks the party can ignore the unfolding primary process and tap an outsider as the nominee.
No one has the money and organization to pull it off, he said, and it would be nearly impossible for such a candidate to get on the ballot in some of the remaining states.
“It’s a nothingburger and it’s something the media likes to spin, but I don’t buy it,” Mr. Priebus told ABC’s “This Week.”
Mr. Trump is banking on wins in a series of East Coast primaries Tuesday to glide him toward the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Mr. Cruz, Texas Republican, is spoiling for a floor fight by quietly lining up delegates who could put him over the top on a second ballot.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is far behind the top two candidates yet is unwilling to bow out.
Mr. Trump’s convention manager, Paul Manafort, tried to stamp out accusations Sunday that the real estate mogul was playing a role to the crowds at his boisterous rallies, saying his own words to RNC officials have been misconstrued.
“When he’s out on the stage, when he’s talking about the kinds of things he’s talking about on the stump, he’s projecting an image that’s for that purpose,” Mr. Manafort said Thursday at an RNC meeting in Florida, according to a recording that was leaked to the media.
Speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Manafort said he was trying to assure RNC officials that Mr. Trump will strike a serious tone when the setting calls for it. The real candidate, he said, is the blunt-spoken guy you see out on the campaign trail.
“I was dealing with members of the Republican National Committee who have a different role from an organizational standpoint, and they wanted to know about things like is he going to be giving speeches on policies, is he going to be involved in settings that are not rally-oriented, and that was the context I was talking about,” Mr. Manafort said. “We were evolving the campaign, not the candidate, and the settings were going to start changing.”
Mr. Cruz, however, said Mr. Trump is trying to “fool gullible voters” and has no plans to build his well-documented wall along the Mexican border or deport millions of illegal immigrants.
“He is telling us he is lying to us,” Mr. Cruz said at a Pennsylvania rally.
Mr. Trump struggled to explain his stance on North Carolina’s transgender “bathroom law” last week, at first saying attempts to force people to use restrooms that comport with their biological gender will hurt business. Later, he said it should be a states’ rights issue.
Mr. Cruz said Mr. Trump seems to think “men should be able to go into the girls’ bathrooms if they want to.”
On Sunday, Mr. Manafort said Mr. Trump firmly believes that it is up to the states to sort out the debate.
“There’s the liar, not Trump,” Mr. Manafort said of Mr. Cruz. “He has to change the narrative. He’s losing.”