Bob Vander Plaats at The Thanksgiving Presidential Forum in Des Moines.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)
Bob Vander Plaats at The Thanksgiving Presidential Forum in Des Moines.
Bob Vander Plaats takes fire from Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)

Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann and Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY Leader, are having a public argument in the media.

It started with a NBC News article that indicated Vander Plaats, who is a delegate to the National Convention, would be open to an attempt to block Donald Trump from the presidential nomination.

Bob Vander Plaats, a supporter and campaign co-chair of former candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, suggested that a convention coup at next month’s Republican nominating convention in Cleveland is possible.

“Everything’s got to be on the table,” said Vander Plaats, acknowledging to NBC News that could mean an effort to unbind the delegates from having to vote for Trump on the convention floor.

Vander Plaats said Trump’s recent tirade against Judge Gonzalo Curiel is leading to “more and more questions going into Cleveland.”

Kaufmann shamed Vander Plaats in an article published in The Des Moines Register, along with former Iowa GOP chairman A.J. Spiker.

Bob Vander Plaats and A.J. Spiker are hypocritical self-promoters whose comments in a national news story endangered Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status, state GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann charged Thursday.

“This was a story of two gentlemen, neither of whom have ever won an election, getting their name in the press and doing so in a way that’s harmful to the credibility of our state nationally,” Kaufmann told The Des Moines Register. “Shame on them.”

Today Vander Plaats responded in a blog post on The FAMiLY Leadership website:

The Iowa GOP chairman “shamed” me to the readers of the Des Moines Register and to the people of Iowa for holding presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, accountable for his disparaging ethnic remarks. If this warrants shame, then … “shame on me.”

Shame on me for believing there are principles worth adhering to regardless of the R or D behind your name. Shame on me for believing you shouldn’t disparage people for their ethnicity or disability.

And if there is shame on me, then I am in good company. Former Speaker of the House and Trump supporter Newt Gingrich also called out the presumptive 2016 nominee for his absurdity. Current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called Mr. Trump’s remarks about the Hispanic judge “textbook racism.” And respected Iowa State Sen. David Johnson left the Republican Party over Trump’s insulting and disparaging remarks.

I consider Mr. Trump a friend. And as I told him in his office, I want to encourage him to be the best husband, father, and leader he can be. But, no, I don’t approve of everything he says or does. And if his actions and words continue to demean and diminish the office he seeks, then I believe every accountability option needs to be on the table at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

I along with many others believe there needs to be a higher standard for a presidential nominee than merely donning the Republican Party name. I believe Mr. Trump should be held accountable for his profanity, for his vulgarity, and for mocking anyone and everyone, including the disabled and prisoners of war.

And if our leaders, like the Iowa GOP chairman, can only “shame” those who desire a higher standard and who insist on the highest character for the highest office, then it also reveals the true motive of our political parties. It has become all about winning versus about leading, and therein lies the problem.

I hope and pray that Mr. Trump embraces the opportunity the Republican Party voters have offered him. I hope he campaigns with dignity, integrity, and an optimism for all that reflects the spirit of America. I hope he tells us that he will surround himself with the best, the most trusted, and the brightest to lead with him. I hope he begins leading with humility, to earn the American people’s respect and, ultimately, their vote.

The idea of delegates blocking Trump’s nomination is a long-shot even as more Republicans believe there is justification for doing so. National Review’s David French, an attorney and war veteran who briefly considered an independent presidential run, said that the national delegates are not really bound.

Let’s begin with a simple proposition: As a matter of law and history, there is not a single “bound” delegate to the Republican National Convention. Not one delegate is required to vote for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or any other individual who “won” votes in the primary process. Each delegate will have to make his or her own choice. They — and they alone — will choose the Republican nominee.

The paragraph above contradicts much of what you’ve been told about the presidential nominating process, and it even contradicts state law in multiple jurisdictions, but state law does not govern the Republican party. The party governs itself, and according to the rules it has implemented, there is only one convention where the delegates were truly bound: 1976’s, when Gerald Ford fended off a challenge from Ronald Reagan. In every other Republican convention ever held, every delegate has been free to vote their conscience.

French then made a legal case why delegates could be unbound. There will still be tremendous pressure, as evidenced by Kaufmann’s reaction to Vander Plaats, not to make such a move. Time will tell whether this idea picks up steam in the minds of delegates headed to Cleveland.

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