Another voice: Can Republicans fire Trump?

Published June 23, 2016

It's a question fit for Donald Trump himself: Can Republicans fire this guy?

The news that Trump's campaign is turning over the couch cushions for cash and has built next to nothing in terms of a national organization was just the latest reason for Republicans to worry that they have a historic loser on their hands.

Fully 70 percent of registered voters now say they dislike Trump, including more than three-quarters of women and nearly 90 percent of nonwhite people, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. Small wonder that yet another group of Republicans has mounted yet another long-shot effort to deprive Trump of the nomination. Called "Free the Delegates," it's an initiative to rally convention delegates to vote against Trump in Cleveland next month. Kendal Unruh, one of the group's founders and a Colorado delegate, told the Washington Post that this can be done by passing a "conscience clause" before the convention that would allow delegates from states that Trump won to abstain or vote for another candidate.

Free the Delegates is not an effort to find an alternative to Trump with broad appeal. It's a campaign to ditch him because he's not conservative enough, and it has no apparent plan beyond that. Meanwhile, more moderate anti-Trump forces are split among John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, none of whom came close to Trump in the primary contests.

Republican leaders in Washington have made little effort to quash the anti-Trump machinations. While Trump was winning, it made some sense, as a purely partisan matter, for House Speaker Paul Ryan to swallow hard and say he was supporting the man chosen by a plurality of the Republican primary electorate. Confronted by shocking new evidence of disarray in the Trump camp, as well as Trump's loose cannon habits, Ryan is now saying delegates are absolutely free to follow their conscience.