In an extraordinary moment rarely seen in modern-day nominating conventions, several delegates stormed off the floor in protest. Photograph:( Getty )
Republican delegates angered by the imminent presidential nomination of Donald Trump launched a loud, disruptive protest on Monday on the floor during the opening session of the Republican National Convention. Sadly, it was a failed attempt to change the party rules to block Trump's nomination.
Several hundred anti-Trump delegates seeking to change the convention rules so that they could opt out of voting for the real estate mogul roared their disapproval after being denied the chance to debate the changes or have a full vote on them.
"Shame! Shame!" some shouted, as pro-Trump delegates yelled back. Members of the 'Never Trump' group alleged that they were bullied by the party leadership. The convention screeched to a halt for several minutes, and in an extraordinary moment rarely seen in modern-day nominating conventions, several delegates stormed off the floor in protest.
New Hampshire delegate Gordon Humphrey had earlier submitted a petition signed by a majority of delegates from nine states demanding a formal vote on the convention rules.
The conference chair, stern-faced House Republican Steve Womack was greeted with an extraordinary ruckus. The "No" shouts were loud but appeared to come from a slightly smaller contingent of rebel delegates and Womack declared the rules adopted. But Womack was not out of the woods yet. Phill Wright, head of the Utah delegation, demanded to be heard. With his microphone on, Wright called for a vote by roll call instead of by acclamation, as requested in the petition.
Party leaders held a voice vote, then declared the opponents lacked enough support, triggering pandemonium on the floor. "This entire system is rigged to force the vote for Donald Trump," said Kendal Unruh, a delegate from Colorado.
While delivering a jolt to the highly scripted program, the rebellion by the anti-Trump forces was quashed. But the furor, an embarrassment to Trump, put a spotlight on the deep divisions within the party that have emerged over his candidacy. A string of senior Republicans, worried about Trump's temperament and policies, were already avoiding the convention.
Trump's opponents had little chance of stopping his march but it would have served as a crippling protest vote against the candidate, who has dreamt of a glide path to the nomination as a way to tamp down divisions within the party and concerns that he is ill-fitted to be commander in chief.
On Tuesday the convention formally votes to nominate Trump as their flagbearer. They will vote delegation by delegation, scrupulously following the results of the state primaries.