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Donald Trump Huddles With GOP Leaders In Attempt To Repair Relations

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 31/03/2016 Christina Wilkie
RELDBMGF10000202324 © Eduardo Munoz / Reuters RELDBMGF10000202324

Donald Trump met Thursday afternoon with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and other party leaders in Washington. The meeting came as a surprise to many -- it was not announced ahead of time, and the agenda wasn't made public.

But it's a pretty safe bet that Priebus and his party's presidential front-runner talked about Republican convention delegates, and the process for awarding them to candidates. 

If that's the case, the meeting didn't come a moment too soon. Trump and his campaign have lately been fanning conspiracy theories about how the GOP will try to choose a presidential nominee in "secret" and override the will of the Republican voters who cast ballots for Trump. 

On Tuesday, Trump also reneged on his pledge to support the party's nominee, if it turns out to be someone other than him. Speaking at a CNN town hall, Trump said the RNC had been "very unfair" to his campaign.

Which is not to say that Trump has given up on the party entirely. Earlier this week, Trump announced that he would be opening an office in Washington "to coordinate his campaign’s work with the Republican National Committee, Congress, and his convention and delegate operations," according to a campaign statement.

He's also creating a congressional outreach committee to help him woo members of Congress, many of whom have been loath to endorse his lightning-rod presidential campaign. Trump's "U.S. House Leadership Committee" will be led by Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Chris Collins (R-N.Y.).

But even if Trump plays nice with the RNC, he still represents an unprecedented challenge to the Republican Party.

Deeply unpopular among huge swaths of voters but beloved by his fans, Trump regularly insults GOP leaders on the campaign trail and rejects long-held party tenets. If Trump were to be the party's nominee, Republican leaders also fear he would hurt GOP candidates' chances in down-ballot races.

If Trump doesn't become the nominee, however, he's predicted that his supporters will riot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. Given the violence that already permeates Trump's rallies, this is hardly an implausible idea. Cleveland police officers have ordered additional riot gear just in case. 

The party's other presidential hopefuls, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), lag well behind Trump in the delegate count. But either man would represent a safer choice for the GOP than Trump.

The real estate mogul tweeted Thursday that his meeting with Priebus had gone well:

The meeting occurred just hours after the RNC launched a website Thursday aimed at explaining the party's convention and delegate rules to GOP voters. The site is one way that the GOP hopes to get out ahead of what is increasingly expected to be a contentious party convention in Cleveland. is a tool for voters to learn about convention delegates, rules, and how the overall process works in a simple, easy to understand format,” Priebus said in a statement. “Conventions are democracy in action and our Party’s gathering in Cleveland will be an exciting, transparent, and fair process.”

But the reality is that delegate voting is complicated (see the rules below), and despite the RNC's assurances of fairness, on the surface the whole process appears to put a lot of power in the hands of individual delegates.

And if Trump supporters feel their candidate is being denied the nomination by party patricians, it's going to take a lot more than a friendly website to cool them down.  

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.


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