1,000 People Dial in to Conference Call to Unbind GOP Delegates

PHOTO: Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at The Fox Theatre on June 15, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.PlayBranden Camp/Getty Images
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It's not over until it's over -- at least, that's what some Republican delegates are saying.

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Organizers say more than 1,000 people, including GOP delegates, alternates and other supporters, dialed in for a conference call on Sunday night to hammer out details for a last-ditch, sweeping rules change that would unbind delegates at the Republican National Convention and deny Donald Trump the presidential nomination.

This was the group's second conference call in four days, following a Thursday night call with about three dozen delegates. This effort is spearheaded by two Colorado delegates.

Speakers on the call encouraged participants to start "traditional grass roots campaigning" for the idea of unbinding delegates, calling for delegates to send information from their home states and for participants to write letters to the editor and call in to talk radio.

"We're not promoting a single candidate," said Steve Lonegan, who is heading up a Super PAC supporting the effort. "This is about allowing the delegates to do the job they're elected to do."

Still, the group is starting from scratch on what would be an unprecedented task.

"As delegates, you were not chosen to be rubber stamps," said Colorado delegate Regina Thomson, a leader on the call. "Down-ticket Republican candidates in every community are counting on us to do the right thing."

RNC aide Sean Spicer called the plans "silly" and a fabrication of the media, in a statement on Friday. But leaders on the call said they were confident they weren't going to get a lot of pushback from party leadership, especially after Paul Ryan’s comments on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he would never tell someone to vote contrary to their conscience. Ryan’s quote is featured prominently on the organization’s website.

"My guy is off the stage," said Brita Horn, another Colorado delegate bound for Ted Cruz. "Based on old rules, I have no vote. It won't count. Why not support being unbound and vote freely?"

But some delegates said they feared retribution from state party leadership. One delegate from North Carolina said they were under "direct threat" from their state party -- a potential $10,000 fine if they voted against their binding.

Kendal Unruh, a member of the convention's rules panel, argued that delegates are already free to vote their consciences, but an explicit change in the rules will make them feel more comfortable doing so.

"I'm giving people a permission slip to unbind," she said about the potential rules change.

"I’m going to be on this phone day and night solidifying my votes," she said on the call. "I believe that it's my duty to solicit and get the votes."

"You’ve got your work cut out for you,” Thomson quipped back.