So, the Kasich campaign forges on, with this hope: Neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz will earn the required 1,237 delegates prior to the party’s convention in July 2016 to win the nomination outright. That scenario would mean an "open" or "contested" convention in Cleveland, with Kasich aiming to persuade delegates to make him the nominee.
It was made during this exchange with host George Stephanopoulos:
Stephanopoulos: You still have won only one state, however it is. You know under the current rules of the Republican National Committee, your only hope is to get to a contested convention. But under the current rules, you wouldn't even be eligible for the nomination, because you haven't picked up a majority of delegates in eight states. It doesn't appear that you're going to be able to do that. So how do you intend to get that rule changed?
Kasich: Well, first of all, George, I'm not going to spend time on process. I have some of the best process people, you know, whether it's John Weaver or Charlie Black or Stu Spencer. But there are no rules governing the next convention. The rules have not been set. And we'll see what a rules committee decides to do. But I expect that we're going to be gaining momentum, picking up delegates and heading into the convention.
What we found is Kasich is mostly on target.
The 2016 convention will essentially start with the same rules that were in place for the 2012 convention.
But then the rules can be changed.
If all this sounds rather nerdy, consider that Google searches for "Republican convention rules" shot up by a factor of 100 in March 2016.
As PolitiFact National explained in a primer on delegates, here’s what happens:
On the Republican convention’s first ballot, nearly all of the 2,472 delegates are obligated to vote for the candidate who won their district or state. But if no candidate nabs the 1,237 votes needed on the first ballot, most delegates are released to support whomever they want on subsequent votes.
Then there’s the 112 members of the rules committee. They determine convention guidelines, and they have the power to change rules at the convention.
Should Trump (the GOP front runner, in terms of delegates) fail to nab the majority of delegates on the first ballot — and at this point, that looks entirely possible — the race becomes a fight for the support of those on the convention floor.
Josh Putnam, one of the experts quoted in the primer, filled in a few more of the blanks for us. Putnam, who is a political science lecturer at the University of Georgia and founder of Frontloading HQ blog, which tracks the presidential primary calendar, said:
The convention writes, tweaks and adopts its own rules. (But) the standard procedure is that the convention rules from one convention carry over to the next. There may be some subtle changes, but they largely carry over.
So while there are only temporary rules now, they can serve as the baseline set of rules for this convention.
As for the possibility of changing Rule 40 (b) -- Stephanopoulos’ reference to the requirement that a GOP candidate win eight states to be eligible for the nomination -- that has already been discussed.
Politico reported in March 2016 that according to current and former Republican National Committee rules committee members, a Republican presidential candidate likely won’t have to abide by that rule.
No number is in effect for the Cleveland convention, according to former Republican National Committee lawyer Ben Ginsberg, whom the article described as the party's preeminent election law expert.
He said: "The 2016 convention and its rules committee has to make that decision. So there is no eight-state rule in effect right now for the next convention. The 2016 convention can make that number one, eight, 18, 28 or 58, if it wishes."
Curly Haugland, a member of the convention’s rules committee from North Dakota, told Politico that rules 26 through 42 stood for the 2012 convention but are only temporary until the rules committee and order of business reports are adopted at the 2016 convention.
In other words, those rules could remain, or they could be changed.
Moreover, it’s still to be determined who will serve on the rules committee in Cleveland. Each state and territory delegation chooses two delegates to serve on the rules committee.
Lest there be any debate about the potential for rules to be changed, the Republican National Committee itself says:
A week before the convention, the 2016 Convention Rules Committee must convene to put together a package of rules to recommend for consideration by all delegates.
The committee, after debate and discussion, adopts by majority vote a package of recommended rules that moves to the convention floor.
Once a majority of the convention delegates adopt the report, the rules become the permanent rules governing that Convention.
Kasich said "there are no rules governing" the 2016 Republican convention, "the rules have not been set."
The 2016 convention will essentially start with the same rules that were in place for the 2012 convention. But the new rules committee for the 2016 convention can change any of the rules.
We rate the statement Mostly True.