RNC Explained: What Happened With The Alaska Delegates?

Becky Bohrer, Associated Press

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP)/SEATTLE (CBS) — The Republican National Convention (RNC) wasn’t without more drama Tuesday, when Alaska took issue with the number of its delegates the convention awarded to Donald Trump.

People watching the RNC at home might be wondering why the delegates asked for a recount, and why those votes were counted for Trump.

State party chairman Tuckerman Babcock had expected the 28 delegates to be divvied up according to the results of the Alaska GOP’s presidential preference poll in March, barring any letters from Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio releasing their delegates. In that poll, Cruz picked up 12 Alaska delegates. Trump was in second-place with 11, and Rubio in third with five votes. These are the results Alaska announced during Tuesday’s roll call.

But the RNC presiding officer awarded all 28 of Alaska’s delegates to Trump, drawing a protest from Alaska’s delegation.

“We were never told that you were going to miscount our votes tonight,” one member said.

This is where some viewers became confused: why were all of those delegates awarded to Trump?

The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, said that allocation was in accordance with state party rules:

“In this particular case, the state rules… [say] that the candidates that are submitted that run in the election, if they drop out, the bound vote gets reallocated to the only candidate left that’s running,” said Priebus.

However, some still weren’t convinced.

 

“I think it’s a load of crap, that’s what I think it is,” Alaska delegate Judy Eledge told BBC’s Anthony Zurcher (captured in the video above). “Our rules state [the other GOP candidates] have to drop out. Cruz and Rubio suspended [their campaigns], they did not drop out. And we had an attorney look at that and say that it was fine.”

In a statement, Babcock said the Republican National Committee misinterpreted state party rules. But he also said: “We are all united” behind Trump and Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence.

Babcock said earlier Tuesday that Alaska delegates had come around to accepting that Trump would be the party’s nominee, though he said a couple might still be struggling with supporting Trump.

Babcock said the alternative to Trump is presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and predicted a Clinton presidency would spell “doom and gloom” for Alaska.

Former state Rep. Peggy Wilson, a Trump delegate from Wrangell, said Trump isn’t trying to become president for fame or glory because he’s already rich and famous.

“He’s here because he really cares about America, and that is so awesome,” she said.

Wilson said Ben Carson was her first choice as the GOP nominee but said she’s excited to see Republicans start to pull together for Trump.

Babcock said Trump is a different kind of candidate, and he doesn’t know what to expect when Trump addresses the convention this week.

National committeeman and Trump delegate Peter Goldberg said he thinks Trump might address the economy, trade, the military and immigration — possibly clearing up his positions on immigration.

Trump “married an immigrant, he’s not anti-immigrant,” Goldberg said, adding that Trump insists “he just doesn’t want to let anybody in if we don’t really know who they are and why they’re coming,” Goldberg said.

Also Tuesday, Wilson and Babcock defended Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, amid criticism that two passages from her convention speech were strikingly similar to a 2008 speech from Michelle Obama.

Wilson said Trump opponents are desperate to find something negative about Melania Trump. Wilson called her classy and intelligent and said she spoke from her heart.

“I just thought that she is such a sweetie,” Wilson said. “In my opinion, we’ve had first ladies that stood out and that America truly kind of loved. Nancy Reagan, of course, was one. I think Laura Bush was one. I think Jackie Kennedy a lot of people really liked. And I think that this lady is going to be someone that a lot of people can really identify with.”

Babcock said he was struck by Melania Trump’s description of her parents, her upbringing and becoming an American citizen.

“I don’t think you could ever compare her speech to Michelle Obama’s because Melania Trump focused a lot on hard work and working for your opportunities, whereas the Obamas focus on handouts and relying on government for your opportunity,” he said.

Babcock suggested that if a speechwriter knew about the similarities that person should accept responsibility.

___

Follow Becky Bohrer at https://twitter.com/beckybohrerap .

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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