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RNC shoots down giving delegates more power

The leadership of the Republican National Committee is holding firm on its pledge that the rules of the party's convention are made a week prior to the gathering, shooting down a plan to shift the dynamics of power from the leadership into the hands of the delegates.

"It was the shortest rules committee meeting ever," an unidentified RNC member who attended the RNC meeting held this week in Hollywood, Florida, told CNBC. The person spoke on condition of anonymity.

The RNC leadership rejected a proposal by Solomon Yue, an RNC officer and rules and committee member from Oregon. It sought to replace the current convention system, which is based on the rules of order used by the U.S. House and replace it with Robert's Rules of Order. The new rule would have transfered the power out of the hands of the convention's presiding officer, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and put into the hands of the delegates. Under the Robert's Rules, any of the nearly 2,500 delegates would be able to raise objections and interrupt proceedings.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Getty Images
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Yue has defended his proposal, saying it would give more transparency to the nomination process, but not all delegates agree. Curly Haugland, RNC Rules Committee member from North Dakota who has said the change would create chaos, stood by the decision to wait on the rule.

"The rules committee voted nearly unanimously, not to tinker with the rules at this meeting to avoid any appearance that the RNC is doing something that would unfairly affect any campaign," said Haugland.

One delegate actually poked fun at the proposed rule: "Ironically, the RNC runs its meetings by Roberts Rules of Order," said Gary Emineth, former RNC North Dakota RNC chairman and unbound delegate from that state. "The only time they don't is at the convention. It's an interesting contradiction."

Delegates who were in the room when the proposal was introduced by Yue to the leadership told CNBC it was quickly squelched. They said they wanted to table it, but he fought back.

"He told them he would refuse to stop making his case for the rule change." said an RNC delegate who declined to be identified. "This rule would take the power out of the hands of Paul Ryan and allow the delegates to have more power on how the convention is run. You have to wonder if he is a (Ted) Cruz delegate. Because under Robert's Rules of Order, Cruz would benefit from such a rules change."

Other delegates explained why such a rules change would benefit Cruz, "If his delegates could control the way the meeting was run it could help shape the voting process," said Emineth, "After the first ballot I would say Cruz delegates outnumber Trump's by 2 to 1. Under Robert's Rules of Order you can see how that would work in Cruz's favor."

Emineth said the timing was not right for any rule changes because of the intense scrutiny of GOP front-runner Donald Trump saying the process is rigged. "I think it is better that they (the RNC leadership) did not change the rules. The perception of the RNC would have been bad if there were any changes," Emineth said. "I love the rule as a delegate. But it's OK it's tabled. Remember the rules aren't written until the week before. This proposal could make it's way through the convention rules committee meeting."

The rules committee of the convention makes the rules, not only for the convention, but for how the RNC is run for the next four years. It's a position delegates like Jeremy Blosser of Texas say needs to be taken seriously because the outcome of the nomination could be at stake.

"Delegates can't go into that meeting unprepared. They have to have the knowledge of the sausage making process so they can be engaged and identify any shady rules," he said. "It is incumbent on the campaigns to make sure their delegates have that knowledge so they can help their candidate."

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