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Bill Owens: Is Trump A Real Negotiator Or Just A Bully?

The media is awash with stories about how the Republican establishment is looking for a way to stop Mr. Trump. Efforts to stop him have received strong vocal support from former Governor Mitt Romney, and, to a lesser extent, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan (although McConnell’s and Ryan’s concerns may eventually prove to be, in reality, not necessarily presidential in nature).

Supporters of Mr. Trump suggest that if these efforts succeed, the Republican party would be ripped apart. In fact, Mr. Trump and some of his supporters have recently and repeatedly voiced the opinion that should Trump be denied the nomination, rioting would ensue. As well, some pundits are indicating that there is great danger in attempting to suppress or disregard both Trump’s and Sander’s movements within their parties.

Also, Mr. Trump and his supporters are making accusations that disruptions at Trump events are being spurred on by unsavory characters, and they take great offense. Let’s take a step back and think about how the Tea Party acted in 2009 through the 2012 elections. Many members of Congress were shouted down at town hall meetings, and the Capitol had vast numbers of protesters during the Obamacare votes, some of whom hurled racial epithets at Rep. John Lewis, while Rep. Emanual Cleaver was even spat upon by some of these purported patriotic protesters. Talk about unsavory characters!

The Republican rules say you need 1,237 delegates to win. The question is, what happens if Mr. Trump does not get 1,237 delegate votes out of the 2,472 to be awarded at the convention? Does 1,200 make him a winner? Or 1,000? What number (other than that required under the rules) makes him a winner? Mr. Trump has been quoted as saying “I think that whoever gets the most delegates should win,” “a majority is an artificial number that was set by somebody” and “a very random number.” Talk about denigrating the rules when they don’t favor you! What’s his message – I’m not a winner, but am clearly a poor loser.

In an op-ed piece published in The Wall Street Journal on March 24, 2016, Karl Rove excoriated Mr. Trump for essentially saying “if I get the most delegates, I win.” Mr. Rove also presented an excellent summary of previously contested conventions.

The rules are in place to address such an eventuality when a candidate receives less than the necessary delegate votes to become the nominee. From 1868 to 1954, there were 22 multi-ballot conventions, including the Democrats’ 103 ballets in 1924, and the Republicans’ 10 in 1920. The idea that “the other guy should play by the rules, but I don’t have to,” appears to be a Trumpiant trait—but not exclusively his domain.

We have all experienced situations where the rules do not seem fair or are not applied fairly, but we generally live with it. If Mr. Trump is such a stupendous, amazing winner as he proclaims, then let him go to the convention with the necessary delegate votes. If not, he and his supporters need to do what he says he purportedly does best—negotiate his way to the nomination. If he refuses, or he can’t negotiate a favorable outcome, then it raises legitimate questions about his actual skills. Mr. Trump has given more than enough proof that he regularly relies on every tool in the arsenal—whether it is bankruptcy, eminent domain, or the courts—to threaten and cajole his adversaries, or any other option available to secure victory in business. Why should he or his supporters complain, much less riot?

Mr. Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st and a partner in the firm of Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher & Trombley, PLLC, in Plattsburgh, New York.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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