The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Once again, Trump campaign makes mistakes trying to win delegates

A delegate supporting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks over documents at the Colorado Republican state convention in Colorado Springs on Saturday. (Rick Wilking/REUTERS)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The presidential campaign of Donald Trump stumbled yet again Saturday amid the complex preparations required to win Republican delegates in some states.

The latest mistakes came as thousands of Colorado Republicans were meeting at a hockey arena here to finalize a slate of 37 delegates to the National Republican Convention in Cleveland. The convention planned to choose the final 13 delegates from a list of more than 600 people who are running for the positions.

Each of the presidential campaigns and several conservative groups are running slates of like-minded candidates, hoping to pool their support and prevail among the thousands casting ballots. The campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has demonstrated supreme organizational prowess and is poised to sweep all, if not most, of the delegates by the end of Saturday.

Ted Cruz scoops up more delegates at chaotic meetings in Colorado

In the hours before Saturday's vote, Trump supporters distributed glossy white flyers urging people to vote for a slate of candidates to fill 13 statewide delegate slots. But several names were misspelled or assigned the wrong ballot number.

The mistakes were exposed at the worst possible moment: just as Colorado Republicans were walking on to the arena floor to take seats and prepare to cast ballots. Trump volunteers frantically printed new lists with new names and ballot numbers -- but those lists also had mistakes.

Alan Cobb, a Trump campaign senior adviser in Colorado for the convention, blamed the Colorado Republican Party for changing the ballot numbers in the final hours before the vote. He said the party planed to provide a blue correction sheet to delegates before they cast votes.

"Awful process," he said in a text message. "Our slate was correct at the time of print." He added later that the mistakes were "Highly unlikely to make any difference."

Trump supporters attending the convention conceded that their team was coming up short.

Memorable moments on the campaign trail with Donald Trump

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump shows off the size of his hands as Fox News Channel moderators Brett Baier (L) and Megyn Kelly (R) look on at the U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate in Detroit, Michigan, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (REBECCA COOK/REUTERS)

“I’ve been in politics exactly 37 days," said Pamela Gentry, a real estate agent and contractor from Westcliffe, Colo., who was loudly drawing attention to a Trump campaign booth just off the arena floor.

Gentry said she began organizing a slate of Trump delegates less than two months ago when she realized that the campaign hadn't started organizing.

"It would have been nice if it was a couple of months ago. Because I think every delegate counts," she said.

Jennifer Biehn, an executive head hunter from Denver, said that she was running to serve as a Trump delegate because “we need someone who’s a street fighter to defend us.”

She was supposed to be on Trump's official slate of delegates, but questions about the spelling of her last name kept her off it. Regardless, she had printed her own campaign literature and was eagerly seeking supporters Saturday morning -- without the Trump team's support.

“I believe his focus is East Coast right now, and that’s where all the delegates are going to be," she said. "This is small. And based on the way our caucus system works, it actually makes it unfair for hard-working Americans to actually go to the caucus."

As the GOP scrambles to minimize Donald Trump's dominance in the polls, Republican leaders face the question of what would happen if no clear winner emerges. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post, Photo: SAUL LOEB/The Washington Post)


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