Facing threats of mischief and even violence in Cleveland, Republican Party leaders are working to address the concerns of delegates and state leaders to the July national convention.
With the prospect of the first contested convention in 40 years, passionate backers of front-runner Donald Trump have promised to raise hell should anti-Trump efforts succeed in blocking him from the nomination. At a meeting Wednesday of state party chairmen and top Republican National Committee officials, multiple attendees raised concerns about the safety and wellbeing of their delegations—some of whom are already the subjects of alleged threats and intimidation efforts.
“One chairman said, my delegates are getting calls at home, their families are being threatened,” said another chairman in the room. “We want to know what they’re going to do about it.”
Several of the chairs present shared stories of threats. Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House, who presided over a tumultuous convention in which Cruz-backers secured his state’s delegation earlier this month has faced death threats, while in Indiana, where leaders selected delegates in advance of the primary next month, officials have been harassed online and by phone.
GOP officials said they were sensitive to those concerns. In the meeting, they highlighted the role of Secret Service in protecting the convention as a National Special Security Event, while promising to increase their private security as well as step up efforts to reassure skittish delegates of their safety. According to RNC officials, every delegation hotel will have a security presence, and the committee urged state party leaders to tell their delegates to contact law enforcement in the event they receive threats.
“We’re going to try to reassure folks that we’re going to have an orderly, safe convention in Cleveland that’s transparent and people aren’t going to have to come worried about whether they get punched in the face,” said Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges, who is involved with the host committee.
Last month Trump told CNN that if he is denied the nomination at the convention, “I think you’d have riots.” Former Donald Trump advisor and Nixon dirty trickster Roger Stone has organized a group called “Stop the Steal” to bring thousands of Trump supporters to Cleveland during convention week to make their displeasure known directly to delegates. “We must express our rage over the hijacking of democracy. We must dominate Cleveland,” the group’s website states. Stone has also suggested he would distribute hotel and personal information about convention delegates who may abandon Trump should the nominating fight head to multiple ballots.
“Inciting a riot, menacing someone, threatening them is a crime,” Borges said, repeating a message he delivered in the room. ” If someone is openly, publicly threatening to commit a crime in Cleveland, I think there are local law enforcement and state law enforcement officials that are going to look seriously at that.”