After failing to secure a single delegate in Colorado nearly two weeks ago, angry Donald Trump supporters, reacting to the candidate’s claims of a ‘rigged’ nomination process, began taking matters into their own hands. This included issuing death threats to Colorado GOP chairman Steve House, who said he’s received emails warning him to hide his family and “pray” he makes it to the convention in Cleveland, as well as phone calls from people telling him to put a gun down his throat, and if he doesn’t they will come help him out.
But it seems House hasn’t been the sole target. At the RNC’s quarterly meeting in Florida this week, many other party leaders shared similar stories.
One party chair says a Trump supporter recently got in his face and promised “bloodshed” if he didn’t win the GOP nomination. An Indiana delegate who criticized Trump received a note warning against “traditional burial” that ended with, “We are watching you.”
The threats come months ahead of a possible contested convention, where Trump is all-but certain to enter with a plurality of delegates bound to him on the first ballot, but he could lose support on subsequent ballots as rules will allow delegates to vote however they choose. And although 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.
“A Trump supporter recently got in my face and threatened ‘bloodshed’ at the national convention and said he would ‘meet me at the barricades’ if Trump isn't the nominee,” said one party chairman, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“The Trump campaign needs to publicly reject bullying and threats of violence. They haven't, yet. It's not okay to give supporters threatening violence a wink and a nod.”
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 the Tennessee state party chairman Ryan Haynes’ cell phone number online along with a message accusing the state party of trying to “STEAL your vote TODAY.” […]
“I’ve had these thoughts quite a bit and had these discussions with people who think I’m an idiot for wanting to go to Cleveland,” said Craig Dunn, a delegate from Indiana who supports John Kasich. Dunn said he’s most nervous about exiting the convention arena in the moments after a potential Trump loss.
“That’s where there’s the greatest prospect for danger,” he said. “I don’t see myself walking outside the convention with a Kasich badge.”
Some are hopeful that new campaign manager Paul Manafort will help encourage Trump to temper his rhetoric and brasher tendencies, but others fear it’s too late, that the intimidation tactics some of his supporters have taken to are already deeply ingrained and part of the “Corey [Lewandowski] culture.”
One political operative close to Trump’s campaign blames the ‘old regime’ for not doing enough to rein in the threats many continue to make and the violence that has taken place at some of the rallies, but says all that will change now.
“That only happens when somebody is not driving the bus,” the unnamed operative told Politico. “That’s all going to settle down now that Paul is in charge.”