Republican delegates from New Hampshire promised this week to stick with their candidates even if that means defying Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's recently fired campaign manager.
The delegates, who are pledged to other candidates now out of the race, spoke after Lewandowski seemed to guarantee their votes for Trump.
“I will make sure that every delegate there is voting for Donald Trump,” Lewandowski, told CNN’s Dana Bash Monday after leaving Trump's campaign.
Lewandowski is still the chairman of the New Hampshire delegation to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month, and he signaled that he could persuade delegates pledged to other candidates to get behind Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
Granite State delegates disagreed.
“That’s not the way it works in New Hampshire,” Tom Rath, a John Kasich delegate, told AMI Newswire Tusday. “The delegates to the first ballot are supposed to vote for the people they stood for when the voters voted in February. My instinct is to go out there and vote for John Kasich, because that’s what I said I was going to do.”
“I’m definitely voting for Jeb,” said Melissa Stevens, an alternate delegate for Jeb Bush who is going to Cleveland in place of former U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg. “I didn’t vote for Corey (for delegation chairman), so he doesn’t speak for me.”
Former state House Speaker Bill O’Brien, a Ted Cruz delegate, said he would never vote for Trump.
If the Trump team expects to enforce a unanimous Trump vote, “they’re going to have to toss me,” he said. “And I like Corey a lot. I’ve been friendly with him. If that’s his statement, God bless him, he’ll have to get rid of me.”
O’Brien, who was co-chairman of Cruz’s New Hampshire campaign, recalled spending five years of his childhood living in Germany.
“I remember thinking as a kid, from 9 years old to 14, these are pretty nice people" he said. "How did it ever happen that the Nazis, the Fascists, came to power? I thought that if I ever got the chance to stand up and say no, I’d do it. I’m not saying Donald Trump is Hitler. He might be Mussolini. He speaks to the same passions, the same prejudices. I’m going to say no right to the end.”
Juliana Bergeron, a Cruz delegate and one of New Hampshire’s two Republican National Committee members, has publicly announced that she will vote for Trump. She believes other Republicans should do the same, but of their own free will.
“Unlike the Democrats, who let their super delegates do anything, we should do what the state wants. I will vote for Trump,” Bergeron told AMI Newswire. “I don’t think Corey Lewandowski can make anybody do something.”
Lewandowski, a resident of Windham, N.H., was fired by Trump Monday. He told CNN he still intends to go to the convention as chairman.
The chairmanship of the delegation is largely a ceremonial position whose only real responsibility involves announcing the state’s vote from the convention floor, according to numerous Republican delegates who have been to national conventions before.
“He has none. He has none,” Rath, a former state attorney general who has been to multiple national conventions, said of the chairman’s power to compel delegates to vote a certain way.
The New Hampshire delegation includes 11 delegates for Trump, four for Kasich, three each for Cruz and Bush, and two for Marco Rubio. The delegates are expected to vote for their pledged candidate on the first ballot. After that, they are free to vote for anyone.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that some delegates hope to devise a way to deny Trump the nomination, but New Hampshire delegates reached this week said they have not been contacted by anyone seeking to deny Trump the nomination.
“I wish,” said Stevens, the Bush delegate. “I haven’t heard anything, though.”
Lewandowski did not return a message requesting comment.