Republican Party begins preparing for contested convention

FILE - In this Dec. 21, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd before speaking in Grand Rapids, Mich. The presidential election cycle is at a point when speculation starts swirling that the primaries won't produce a clear winner and one of the parties' big nominating conventions will dissolve in chaos. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Republican National Committee has started preparing for a contested national convention, which would follow the primary season should no GOP candidate for president win enough delegates to secure the party’s nomination.

While calling the need for such plans ultimately unlikely, several GOP leaders at the party’s winter meeting in South Carolina told The Associated Press on Wednesday that such preliminary planning is nonetheless actively underway.

They stressed it had little to do with concerns about the candidacy of billionaire businessman Donald Trump, describing the early work instead as a necessary contingency given the deeply divided Republican field. With less than three weeks to go before the Feb. 1 leadoff Iowa caucuses, there are still a dozen major Republican candidates in the race.

“Certainly, management of the committee has been working on the eventuality, because we’d be wrong not to,” said Bruce Ash, chairman of the RNC’s rules committee. “We don’t know, or we don’t think there’s going to be a contested convention, but if there is, obviously everybody needs to know what all those logistics are going to look like.”

The RNC will hold a briefing outlining possible scenarios with party officials and the presidential campaigns on Thursday, said Steve Duprey, a Republican national committeeman from New Hampshire.

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