Floor Fight

Anti-Trump Factions Disrupt Vote at Republican Convention

Republican factions trying to stop Donald Trump's presidential nomination noisily disrupted a vote on convention rules, putting on full display the fissures in the party on the first day of its national gathering.

Chaos in Cleveland: Anti-Trump Factions Disrupt RNC

Republican factions trying to stop Donald Trump's presidential nomination and change party guidelines noisily disrupted a vote on convention rules, putting on full display the fissures in the party on the first day of its national gathering.

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Delegates from Colorado were seen walking out of the convention hall, and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was spotted angrily throwing his convention credentials to the floor after an effort to seek a roll-call vote on convention rules was cut short.

The disruption on Monday came as Trump and party officials were opening what is supposed to be a rallying point for Republicans leading into the general election. After the ruckus, the convention went into recess until a schedule of prime-time events and speakers, including the presumptive nominee's appearance in the hall Monday night to introduce his wife, Melania. It was unclear whether there would be further protests.

What should have been a procedural vote erupted in chanting and exchanges of angry words among delegates gathered in Cleveland.

Senator Mike Lee of Utah, who like Cuccinelli supported Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the nomination campaign, told reporters on the floor of the arena where the convention's being held that he was still trying to trying to get an answer to why party officials blocked a roll-call vote on the rules that would govern the convention and set guidelines for nominating process.

"This is not about Mr. Trump," he said. "This is about having a fair rules process."

Delegate Joel Mattila, wearing a Trump "Make America Great" hat, yelled "sour grapes" to Lee.

"Is it sour grapes to ask for a roll call vote?" Lee replied.

The anti-Trump delegates were seeking changes that would give them the ability to vote for someone other than Trump as well as altering other rules, such as limiting participation in future presidential primaries and caucuses to only registered Republicans.

While it was unlikely to stop Trump, who won far more delegates than he needs for the nomination, a roll call vote on the rules would have given anti-Trump delegates more opportunity to voice their disapproval. It potentially also could have caused an embarrassing delay in the schedule for the convention's prime-time lineup on its opening day.

Representative Steve Womack of Arkansas, sitting as temporary chairman of the convention, asked for a voice vote to approve the rules, even as delegates who wanted a roll call began shouting their disapproval.

Despite notable shouts of "nay" from the floor, Womack declared the panel's report had been approved and left the stage. There was a roar from delegates shouting and chanting "roll call vote!''

Several minutes later, Womack returned and said the measure had passed. Nine states had originally asked the chairman's decision be subject to a roll call vote, he said, but since three states had withdrawn their support, the six remaining didn't meet the requirement of eight needed to force a roll call.

"The chair has found insufficient support for the request for a record vote," Womack said, ruling out the possibility of a roll call.

Supporters of the roll-call vote were left fuming.

Manette Merrill, a delegate from Washington, said microphones were turned off to avoid protesting.

"They want to shut us down,'' she said.

Former Senator Gordon Humphrey said he filed requisite signatures to force a roll-call vote. Humphrey, a New Hampshire delegate who backed Ohio Governor John Kasich, said he wasn't confident that RNC staff had the "courage" or "independence" to "stand up" to pressure from the Trump organization to disallow or ignore petitions.

In an interview with MSNBC, he called the presumptive nominee's supporters "brown shirts"  who "act like fascists.''

 "They rolled through. They cheated. That's what you just saw -- them violate their own rules," Cuccinelli told MSNBC.

Less than an hour after the display of disunity on the floor, delegates were asked to look to the back of the arena to pose for a sort of family photo documenting their gathering in Cleveland.

Delegates opposed to Trump tried to change party rules last week to block his nomination by allowing delegates to vote their consciences regardless of how their state voted earlier this year in primaries and caucuses.

Trump argued that millions of Republicans have spoken in the primary elections and caucuses earlier this year and selected him to be their standard-bearer in a race against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in November.

The billionaire was scheduled to accept the nomination in a formal speech on Thursday.

Trump did not immediately acknowledge the chaos, but did tweet criticism of CNN's coverage in the minutes following the floor fight in which he said that a vast majority of those present supported him.

"They go to their dumb, one-sided panels when a podium speaker is for Trump!" he tweeted.

In another sign of the divisions in Cleveland, Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, said at a Bloomberg Politics breakfast Monday that Kasich is being "petulant" and "embarrassing" his party by attending only events on the sidelines of the convention in his home state. 

—With assistance from Justin Sink,  Jim Rowley and Jennifer Jacobs.

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