Eric Bolling’s hand was stretching across to Governor Palin to thank her for the interview at its conclusion, when my phone rang. I answered, and the first words I heard were: “How do we have a brokered convention?” I explained it in broad terms to my friend, who was ready now to go to war with the GOP, Democrats, or anybody who might stand in his way. I heard the call-waiting beep, and I excused myself, and fielded the next call. “Did you see that? How do we make sure that if there is a brokered convention, she’s picked, and not somebody else like Jeb?” I asked only: “Who’s speaking?” My hearing is failing as I get older, and sometimes I can’t differentiate particular voices over the phone. Nevertheless, once I knew to whom I was speaking, we discussed the matter at hand. Everybody who called wanted to know how a brokered convention could be forced, or how it would work, and if it could really work at all.
This went on from the moment of the conclusion of the Bolling-Palin interview until late into the night. Friends, associates, activists, and many others called me, and all of them wanted to know how to go about making sure of two things, and precisely two things: How can we make sure there is a brokered convention, and how can we make certain that Sarah Palin is the choice?
I will tell you now what I told them in simplified terms, as I’m sure over the next twenty-four hours, we’ll see people with more facts on the specifics: It still all comes down to delegates, but not merely numbers of them, but instead also who will be those delegates. To accomplish the reality of a brokered convention isn’t all that difficult in terms of the mechanics. Simply put, you just need to deny 1144 delegates to any of the candidates, and the best way for that to happen is to spread them around. If Santorum wins one, and then Romney wins one, and Gingrich wins one, and maybe eventually Ron Paul wins one, and this cycles around long enough to deny any that magic number of delegates, what you will have is a brokered convention. That’s a fact.
The infinitely more difficult part is seeing to the outcome of a brokered convention. If any of them are too strong, they will be in a position to wheel and deal for the support of another candidate’s delegates, but more than this, the GOP establishment will have a strong hand with at-large delegates and also because the number of at-large delegates will swell this year due to the early states holding their contests earlier than the rules permit. Those states automatically have yielded half of their delegates to the party, to be made at-large delegates.
There is also the question of who the delegates will be. Having a bunch of Santorum delegates who would lean toward Mitt Romney in Santorum’s absence would be bad. Of course, this is where we get into the weeds of process, because delegates are selected differently in the various states. I would therefore refer you to those within your state who can explain it to you in the context in which your state’s rules apply. The point is that a brokered convention becomes difficult in several ways, including the manner in which a nominee is eventually selected.
The real messy part is the inevitable floor fight, that is one of the reasons the parties try to avoid this spectacle before television cameras at all costs. Here’s an article from the Washington Post that discusses some of the possibilities. I point all of this out not to dampen anybody’s spirits, but instead to make sure you understand what the pursuit of this will entail. For those of you motivated enough to carry it out, there will be pitfalls, and dangers, and no shortage of potential heartbreaks. Is it possible? Yes. Will it be a snap? Not a chance.
Of course, all of those who phoned me on Wednesday evening don’t seem to be the sort who will be easily deterred. They have a goal in mind, and have had this one in mind for some time as one possible way to see their preferred candidate lead the party into the general election. I can’t fault them, as I have harbored that same hope ever since Governor Palin made her announcement of October 5th. Of course, in all of this, we should recognize we are a long way from a brokered convention, and while I would like to see it, as would many others, there’s no certainty that we will get one, or that even having gotten one, it will have the outcome we envision. There hasn’t been a brokered convention in the GOP since 1948, and Dewey was the result. It came close to happening in 1976, when Ronald Reagan almost upset Gerald Ford. What you must know is that such an avenue is tricky at best, and dangerous at its worst, because much of it will come down to the delegates, and the character they possess. If they’re interested in currying favor with party bosses, it could be trouble, but if they’re ordinary Americans interested in victory as the path to restoring the country, it just might work out.