Kendal Unruh, a conservative Colorado Delegate and Rules Committee member, is the founder of “Free the Delegates.” Working with Mike Lee , Kendal and other conservatives presented several amendments based on Republican principles to the GOP Rules Committee, including her conscience amendment, that would express the right of delegates to vote their consciences at the convention. All were defeated at the committee meeting, in a proceeding marked by questionable rules of order and arbitrary vote counts.
Ms. Unruh leads a coalition of Republicans who reject Donald Trump as the GOP standard bearer. The reasons go beyond inexperience and ill-advised statements. The high profile cadre of white nationalists and neo-Nazis supporting him is ominous because those with such a following do not react well to the gift of absolute power. Moreover, the cadre offers high caliber ammunition for the Democrats to use against Republicans. Persistent reports of threats to delegates and others dog the candidate. All of this should make voters question just what sort of man they are being asked to vote for. It should make the GOP question the man it’s embracing. But it doesn’t.
Those who ignore such things in the hope of getting a conservative president are doomed to be disappointed. Though Donald Trump campaigned in the primary as a conservative outsider, Kendal Unruh’s account of the rules meeting gives the lie to that image. Trump supporters joined gleefully with the Republican establishment to crush the life out of the conservative movement, for years to come.
How she started the movement
“I just started to push, with a little bit of media, this obscure conscience clause and it tapped into the 48% of Republicans who didn’t want Trump as their nominee, and the 60% that didn’t vote for [him].
“I had been working on it for about a month; then we were deluged with emails, calls and private messages, Facebook messages; home phone calls and business phone calls from people who truly looked at this as the last option … to save the Republic from Donald Trump. And it just exploded. Then we brought [together] all the groups … working toward the same thing, but didn’t have momentum enough to actually effect change. Then you have the machine to accomplish the goal.
“You know my conscience clause was never about giving the right to unbind, it was always about a right that already existed. The conscience clause became the vehicle that pulled the train. Because free conscience and free will resonates to everybody. It is extraordinarily difficult to argue that people should not be able to vote [their] conscience. Obviously, Donald Trump was able to and so was the RNC.”
Account of widespread threatening of delegates.
“We knew it was going to be an uphill battle. What was happening was things got so rough for the delegates and the members that would come out publicly. You’re putting yourself in the line of fire and you start getting the death threats and the phone calls and the crank calls, attacks on your business and the social media attacks; and they come after wherever you are publicly on social media… It’s just Trump trolls. And all the delegates started being threatened by Trump surrogates or RNC officials, sometimes even being physically threatened.
“We actually received a recording of a delegate that had been threatened by a Trump surrogate. He said that he was going to unbind and the surrogate said, ‘Well then I’ll be the first one to put a bullet in your head.’ Not laughing: just literally the threat.”
Report of Rules Committee member and family threatened
“I had a Rules Committee person – and I say “person” so it can’t be identified, by gender –This person was a solid vote, and started getting threats on the family, came to me and said, “I can’t be a vote for you. I can’t come out publicly like this. The cost is just too great for my family.”
“This is the hidden story that people don’t know about.”
“It’s not just about taking a stand and taking a vote, which by the way requires backbone and courage and strength; but to get out there in the midst of this incredibly ugly presidential campaign. And, of course, Donald Trump is responsible: he incites it. Of course, he’s the one doing it because he won on it. Because this is how he wins. And it’s out of fear and intimidation and thug tactics. The stories we have got gotten! I know, I know what I’ve had to go through to take a stand. And the cost is too high. Because this is grassroots people; they’re teachers and mothers and lawyers and they’re not used to being in the spotlight and just being unbelievably ripped apart.”
Defeat of the conscience amendment—and a complete shutout of conservatives
“One thing that’s not being reported is [that] 13 abstained [in the conscience amendment vote]. We have the 12 votes but 13 abstained. Anyway, yesterday was a farce. We had a conservative package with reforms – they were all grassroots oriented – shutting down open primaries, Republican concepts – making sure that the numbers in apportionment weren’t including illegal aliens in sanctuary cities – they shot that down, anything they could shoot down, if it was sponsored by us, they killed it. It was just a farce.
“But it showed the world that you have now, you have so much power in the RNC that they just…completely made sure that the grassroots … remains completely mitigated as any force, and that grassroots candidates and conservative candidates have extraordinarily tough times getting elected. They completely rigged the system so that moderates control the game.”
“That was the rules package.”
“They did it intentionally and they made darned sure they locked those conservatives out for as long as that rules package is implemented. And it’s extraordinarily difficult to undo rules. They’re mostly RNC people so I anticipate that this will be here for a very long time.”
“That’s what the delegates need to know— that they need to vote down that rules package. They must just vote the package down because it’s nothing but a book of the most liberal, power-protecting for the elite establishment, thumbing of their noses at the grassroots, that I’ve ever witnessed and I’ve been active in this for 30 years.”
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This full interview was conducted by Bill Bennett and Dawn Bright.