Donald Trump may be the only Republican presidential candidate who can realistically hit the magic 1,237 number for the majority of delegates, but according to a senior Republican National Committee official that does not mean he will become the GOP presidential nominee.
Curly Haugland, a longstanding RNC official and an unbound delegate from North Dakota who will be on the convention rules committee in July, told CNBC that attaining 1,237 during the primaries does not secure the nomination.
"Even if Trump reaches the magic number of 1,237 the media and RNC are touting, that does not mean Trump is automatically the nominee," Haugland said. "The votes earned during the primary process are only estimates and are not legal convention votes. The only official votes to nominate a candidate are those that are cast from the convention floor."
Haugland explained the primary number is really an estimate. That's because the eligibility of some delegates in how they are voted in could be questioned and their status may not be considered valid, Haugland said.
"Remember every state has a different delegate allocation process," he said. "Delegates are picked up in state contests that can be winner take all, open primaries, and remember there are seven states that allow the candidates to pick their own delegates. Until those delegate challenges are settled, there is no 1,237."
Haugland said he expects the delegates won in winner-take-all states to be most likely challenged.
Hitting 1,237 in the primaries does not mean the candidate would automatically become the GOP presidential nominee.
"You become the presumptive nominee when you get 1,237 bound delegates," RNC spokesman Lindsay Walters told CNBC. "You officially become nominee when you have 1,237 votes on the floor of the convention."
Trump has been contesting the delegate appropriation methods, accusing the Ted Cruz campaign of stealing delegates in Louisiana and Colorado. The Trump campaign has said it is considering challenging the seating of the Colorado delegation at the July convention. In March, a Trump senior adviser confirmed the campaign was moving on its plan to contest delegates in Louisiana after Trump won the state's primary but received fewer delegates than Cruz.
The Trump campaign did not immediately return a request for comment about Haugland's assertions.
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