Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump and his closest rival Ted Cruz warned of dire consequences if the party establishment attempts to have a brokered convention to pick the Republican nominee.
“I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots,” Trump said on Wednesday after wins in Republican primaries in four states took his delegate count to 673 as against Cruz’s 411 and Ohio Governor John Kasich’s 143.
“I’m representing a tremendous many, many millions of people,” he said on CNN.
Kasich’s win in his home state on Tuesday deprived Trump of its 66 delegates and made it hard for the brash billionaire to reach the 1,237 delegates he needs to capture the Republican prize without a floor fight at the Cleveland, Ohio, convention in July.
With a contested convention likely to choose the party nominee, one of Trump’s supporters said there would be riots if Trump didn’t win the nomination at the convention, though riots themselves “aren’t necessarily a bad thing”.
“If it means because it’s in there fighting the fact that our establishment Republican party has gone corrupt and decided to ignore the voice of the people and ignore the process,” Trump supporter Scottie Neil Hughes told CNN.
Pressed specifically on the word “riot,” she said: “It’s not riot as in a negative thing like what we’ve seen in the past, it’s the fact that you have a large amount of people that will be very unhappy.
“I don’t think they would sit there and resort, in fact I know they would not resort to violence, I know they would not do it. However, they would make sure their voices are heard, that they can’t be ignored,” Hughes added.
Earlier on Wednesday, Cruz said party leaders getting behind a brokered convention would be disastrous.
“I think that would be an absolute disaster. I think the people would quite rightly revolt. The way to beat Donald Trump is at the ballot box,” the Texas senator said.
“If it ends up happening that we get to Cleveland and nobody has 1,237 delegates, that Donald has a whole bunch of delegates and I have a whole bunch of delegates and we come in neck-and-neck, then it is up to the delegates to decide,” he added.
Despite Kasich’s first win on Tuesday night, Cruz said it makes no sense for the Ohio governor to remain in the race.
“It is mathematically impossible for John Kasich to become the nominee. At this point, he had lost 20 states before Ohio,” Cruz said.
Republican National Committee Communications Director Sean Spicer said on Wednesday that a chance for a brokered convention still remains. But he doesn’t think there will be literal riots if Trump is not allowed to be a nominee.
“I assume he’s speaking figuratively,” he said. “I think if we go into a convention, whoever gets 1,237 delegates becomes the nominee. It’s plain and simple.”