Donald Trump is accusing rival Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign of bribing delegates with “goodies,” sending out a tweet Sunday that slammed the “bad system” of non-representative delegates.
Trump continued railing against the delegate system during a rally in Rochester, New York, Sunday afternoon.
“We’re supposed to be a democracy,” Trump told supporters, but “the system is corrupt and it’s worse on the Republican side.”
While it’s unclear which states’ delegates Trump takes issue with, the current GOP front-runner has suffered staggering losses in delegate races across several states. On Saturday, Ted Cruz swept Colorado, which chose to hold GOP state convention rather than a traditional caucus or primary, by winning 34 delegates. Cruz has also outmaneuvered Trump in racking up delegates in places like South Carolina andLouisiana — states that Trump carried during their respective primary contests.
Trump’s new convention manager, lobbyist and political consultant Paul Manafort, took issue with the way Cruz’s campaign was gathering delegate support.
On NBC News Sunday, Manafort, who was hired last week to boost Trump efforts in wrangling delegates, accused Cruz of “threatening” and using “Gestapo tactics” at conventions.
“He’s threatening — you go to these county conventions, and you see the tactics, Gestapo tactics, the scorched-earth tactics,” Manafort said. “We’re going to be filing several protests because reality is, you know, they are not playing by the rules.”
Manafort later predicted that the “games” played in recent states to score delegate support “are not important to the long-term game” of reaching 1,237 delegates, the magic number to clinch the Republican presidential nomination before the party’s convention.
The rules governing who gets to be a convention delegate are specific to each state, and Trump’s lack of organization in several delegate battlegrounds have put him at a disadvantage in his fight to best Cruz’s ground game.
These delegate fights could be especially important at the party’s Cleveland convention this summer. If Trump fails to score at least 1,237 delegates, the GOP nominee will be decided by multiple rounds of voting. Some states only require their delegates to be bound to a specific candidate on the very first ballot — meaning delegates will be able to vote for whichever contender they choose if no one wins that initial voting round.
Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier fired back at Manafort’s comments Sunday afternoon.
“It’s no surprise that Trump’s team will lash out with falsehoods to distract from their failure, as they have the entire time,” Frazier told CBS News in a statement. “We have earned our success by working hard to build a superior organization and are working within the process and rules that have been established- which has led now to four consecutive wins, 12 wins total.”