Donald Trump has pandered to some of the ugliest elements in the GOP base: white supremacists, open racist, and misogynists in general. Now, some of those same Trump supporters are reported to be making death threats against delegates who fail to support their new fuhrer. Meanwhile, Trump is on a charm campaign seeking to calm fears of the GOP elite. Personally, I wonder if Trump can control the hate and discord that he has deliberately cultivated. Politico looks at the death threats. Here are excepts:
First it was an email warning Steve House, the Colorado GOP chairman, to hide his family members and “pray you make it to Cleveland.” Then there was the angry man who called his cellphone and told him to put a gun down his throat.
“He said, ‘I’ll call back in two minutes, and if you’re still there, I’ll come over and help you,’” House recalled.
Since Donald Trump came up empty in his quest for delegates at the Republican state assembly in Colorado Springs nearly two weeks ago, his angry supporters have responded to Trump’s own claims of a “rigged” nomination process by lashing out at Republican National Committee delegates that they believe won’t support Trump at the party’s convention — including House.
The mild-mannered chairman estimates he’s gotten between 4,000 and 5,000 calls on his cellphone. Many, he says, have ended with productive conversations. He’s referred the more threatening, violent calls to police. His cellphone is still buzzing this week, as he attends the RNC quarterly meetings in Florida, and he’s not the only one.
In hotel hallways and across dinner tables, many party leaders attending this week’s meetings shared similar stories. One party chairman says a Trump supporter recently got in his face and promised “bloodshed” if Trump doesn't win the GOP presidential nomination. An Indiana delegate who criticized Trump received a note warning against “traditional burial” that ended with, “We are watching you.”
[A]lthough the harassers are typically anonymous, many party leaders on the receiving end of these threats hold Trump himself at least partly responsible, viewing the intimidation efforts as a natural and obvious outgrowth of the candidate’s incendiary rhetoric.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The party chairman who said a Trump backer threatened "bloodshed" at the convention also said the man told him he would "'meet me at the barricades’ if Trump isn't the nominee.” The chairman spoke on condition of anonymity.
Trump’s campaign has never explicitly encouraged violence. But it has promoted tactics that have contributed to delegates’ fear. Earlier in April, a top Trump adviser posted online the cellphone number of Tennessee state party chairman Ryan Haynes, along with a message accusing the state party of trying to “STEAL your vote TODAY.”
Haynes told POLITICO at the time that he nearly canceled the party’s delegate selection meeting after a barrage of vitriol and the specter of violence.
The fears expressed by party leaders are bubbling up at a time Trump is facing internal pressure to rein in his confrontational inclinations too. Paul Manafort, Trump’s GOP convention chief, who is in Florida to attend the RNC meetings and assuage the concerns of the GOP establishment, has encouraged the candidate to temper his bombast.
But even if Manafort is able to nudge Trump toward a more traditional presidential bearing, the hostile energy his campaign has already whipped up among some supporters has left a trail of anger and intimidation that is likely to linger when the convention comes in July.