On the campaign trail, Donald Trump has a clear answer to questions about a contested convention in Cleveland — it's not happening.
"I know the press likes to talk about the brokered convention," he told NBC this week, "but I think we're doing really well."
The dealmaker, however, is not leaving anything to chance.
While Trump publicly dismisses talk of a battle in Cleveland, he is quietly assembling a team of seasoned operatives to manage a contested convention. Their strategy, NBC has learned, is to convert delegates in the crucial 40 days between the end of the primaries and the convention — while girding for a floor fight in Cleveland if necessary.
The outreach is already underway.
"We are talking to tons of delegates," says Barry Bennett, a former Ben Carson campaign manager now leading the delegate strategy for Trump.
Under Republican Party rules, a candidate who wins a majority of 1,237 delegates during the primaries clinches the presidential nomination. If no candidate wins that majority, delegates vote on the nominee at an open convention.