(AP Photo/J Pat Carter, File)
The national Republican establishment is preparing for potentially not having a clear winner after the party's 2016 presidential primaries, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
And if front-runner Donald Trump is still ahead at the end, several unnamed "longtime power brokers" reportedly urged the Republican Party to prepare for a floor fight to nominate a more acceptable alternative.
So-called brokered conventions are extremely rare, as a consensus candidate typically emerges from each party's primaries with a majority of the delegates.
But because the Republican 2016 presidential field has so many well-funded candidates who could potentially soldier on despite early primary-state losses, a brokered GOP convention could be more likely than usual next summer. Should that happen, some GOP leaders are reportedly preparing an 11th-hour effort to thwart Trump from securing the party's nomination.
The Post's Robert Costa and Tom Hamburger reported that the leaders discussed the issue at a Monday dinner with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).
Monday also happens to be the day Trump ignited a national firestorm by proposing a "complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on" with the "hatred" emanating from the Muslim community.
Most of Trump's Republican presidential opponents condemned the proposal, which Trump said was needed to protect the US from terrorism. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called Trump "a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot," for example, and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida said the business mogul was "unhinged."
Another candidate, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, predicted that if Trump were the Republican nominee, it would be a disaster for the party's House and Senate candidates — a possibility some of the anti-Trump agitators were most likely worried about at the Republican meeting Monday.
"Priebus and McConnell were mostly quiet during the back and forth. They did not signal support an overt anti-Trump effort," Costa and Hamburger wrote of the meeting, which was reportedly attended by more than 20 Republican leaders, some of them allies of Trump's primary rivals.
The Post's report added, "Upon leaving, several attendees said they would soon share with one another memos about delegate allocation in each state as well as research about the 1976 convention, the last time the GOP gathered without a clear nominee."
An RNC spokesman, Sean Spicer, told The Post that the national party was not endorsing an anti-Trump effort.
"The RNC is neutral in this process and the rules are set until the convention begins next July," Spicer said. "Our goal is to ensure a successful nomination and that requires us thinking through every scenario, including a contested convention."
Trump has repeatedly threatened to consider an independent bid for the White House if the RNC does not treat him "fairly" in the primaries.
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