CLEVELAND — The Republican National Convention devolved into chaos Monday, as advocates of a delegate unbinding maneuver aimed at unseating Donald Trump as the Republican nominee put their plan in motion.
Delegates chanted "roll call vote" — putting voice to the behind-the-scenes efforts of a group of anti-Trump delegates who gathered signatures to try to force a floor vote on the RNC Rules. The hope was to pass an effort to allow states to unbind their delegates, freeing them to vote for a candidate besides Trump.
Convention chair Rep. Steve Womack allowed a voice vote on the Rules, then ruled that the "ayes" had it — adopting the convention rules as passed by the Rules Committee, without an option to unbind delegates.
As for a roll call vote, Womack said that while nine states had lent their support to the Rules change, three states withdrew, meaning there was "insufficient support" for a roll call vote.
The anti-Trump group Delegates Unbound had been working behind the scenes Monday to collect signatures to force the roll-call vote. They did so even after the powerful Rules Committee ruled during its committee session today that all due consideration had been given to this effort.
Delegates Unbound had bragged that it gained the support of a majority of the delegates in 10 states, but that support was not recognized on the convention floor when the time came — meaning that the effort was defeated.
But that wasn't the only effort underway — Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and others objected to the Rules vote for other reasons, such as opposition to open primaries, The Weekly Standard reported.
But supporters of the unbind-the-delegates effort did not react well to Monday's floor action — some even plan to leave the RNC before it's over.
"We have witnessed an abomination and the implosion of the Republican Party was we have known it," Texas delegate Ivette C. Lozano told TheBlaze. "Many are leaving the convention."
Regina Thompson, a Colorado delegate and co-founder of the Free the Delegates group, signaled Monday that the effort has folded. When asked about the next step for the anti-Trump faction, she said: "Drink heavily and try to reform the party from within."
Earlier Monday, she criticized the RNC Rules committeemen for using "disappointing, sluggish tactics" to stymie the anti-Trump effort. She said the RNC secretary — who the free-the-delegates had to submit the signatures to — was "hiding behind armed guards" today, making it difficult to submit the signatures to the appropriate people on time.
Thompson all but predicted Monday's outcome, saying that despite the signatures, she expected the RNC powers that be to do whatever they could to avoid a roll-call vote.
"I have no doubt that they'll do something to not bring it to a roll call," Thompson told TheBlaze Monday afternoon. "But we're still going to soldier on."
With the defeat of the roll-call effort, the free-the-delegates advocates seem to have exhausted their last avenue to unseat Trump as the Republican nominee.
In an apparent attempt to show party unity, delegates chanted "we want Trump" as the RNC officials moved on with the convention program following the excitement.
Watch the floor fight:
Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.