Trump's Campaign Adds Heavy Hitters in Attempt to Lock Down Nomination

They're gearing up for a fight over delegates.

ByABC News
April 14, 2016, 6:26 PM

— -- Donald Trump's latest hire may be sending a message to the Republican party that he's serious about locking down the nomination in the face of a growing chorus of opposition.

On Wednesday, the real estate mogul's campaign announced that a well-known Republican strategist, Rick Wiley, would be joining the team as national political director.

Wiley not only had experience in this particular presidential race, having worked as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's campaign director, but he also worked as the political director of the Republican National Committee.

Those ties to the RNC might come in handy since Trump has been battling with the group over delegate allocation rules. Specifically he has been critical of the process in Louisiana, where he won the popular vote but got fewer delegates than Ted Cruz and in Colorado, where Cruz swept the delegate field despite there being no popular vote.

"Trump's complaints about party corruption fit with his campaign's hirings," said James Campbell, a professor of political science at the University at Buffalo.

"It seems clear that the Trump campaign now sees that it has put itself at a disadvantage by not being adequately staffed to handle both party and staterules and procedures regarding delegate selection methods and issues of how delegates are bound to candidates," Campbell told ABC News.

Trump is facing the possibility of a contested convention if he fails to secure the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination outright. In that case, a number of delegates who are pledged on the first ballot become free to vote for whomever they want on the second.

"Unless Trump can [cobble] together a ... round majority, he is going to have a very difficult time winning on a second ballot," Campbell said.

Wiley isn't the only big-name hire that Trump's campaign has announced in recent weeks.

Paul Manafort was announced as the campaign’s convention manager on March 26. Manafort reportedly played a significant role in the 1976 convention, where Gerald Ford ended up winning the nomination in spite of a fight from Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole. That’s the last time Republicans had no clear nominee going into the convention.

On the same day as Manafort's announcement, which came more than nine months after Trump announced his candidacy, the campaign also announced it was opening a D.C. office "to coordinate his campaign’s work with the Republican National Committee, Congress, and his convention and delegate operations."

The series of moves, as well as Trump's complaints against what he sees as corrupt actions of the RNC, suggest that Trump may be working to lock down the nomination in the face of a series of efforts to thwart him.