Republicans Brace for Brokered Convention

Leaders dusting off rule books, readying for big fight
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2012 8:19 AM CDT
Balloons cover the floor of the Xcel Center after the acceptance speech of Republican presidential nominee John McCainat the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

(Newser) – For much of American history, brokered conventions were the norm, but the two big parties have not had one since Democrats chose Adlai Stevenson in 1952. The Republicans' last brokered convention was 1948 when they picked Thomas Dewey (Gerald Ford beat Ronald Reagan on the first ballot in 1976). But as the GOP race continues to produce highly divided results, Republicans are digging out ancient rule books and making serious plans for the possibility of their first brokered convention in 64 years, reports the New York Times.

Rick Santorum has hired a delegate specialist to go through each state's arcane rules, trying to unearth any extra delegates. The GOP's Committee on Contests is ready for a flood of lawyers and legal action. Party experts say the race is still Mitt Romney's to lose, and a couple of big wins could swing enough momentum for him to get the 1,144 delegates he'd need to win outright before the convention. The most recent estimates have Romney now at 495 delegates, followed by Santorum with 252, Gingrich with 131, and Ron Paul with 48. “In terms of the delegate count, Romney is well positioned, but I don’t think his opponents are going to go quietly,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. But most of the GOP leadership would prefer to avoid the chaos and uncertainty of a brokered convention—the last candidate chosen by a brokered convention to actually win the presidency goes back to Franklin Roosevelt in 1932.

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