Donald Trump’s comments about transgender bathroom use and North Carolina’s House Bill 2 could boost chances to elect convention delegates committed to Republican rival Ted Cruz, two Cruz backers said Friday.
That could help Cruz if Republicans face a contested convention this summer in Cleveland.
The bill passed last month pre-empted a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed transgender persons to use public bathrooms of the with which they gender they identify. Trump, asked about the N.C. law on Thursday, said, North Carolina should have left “it the way it is.”
“There have been very few complaints the way it is,” he said. “People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble.”
Trump also said Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman, could use any bathroom that she wants at New York’s Trump Tower.
In North Carolina, that could translate into convention delegates – for Cruz.
“I think it’s probably going to give us quite a boost,” said Duane Cutlip, a Cruz supporter from Wake County. “We understood pretty clearly what Ted Cruz meant when he said ‘New York values’.”
Published reports have said that Cruz supporters dominate most of the 33 Republican delegates elected at district conventions so far. Two more districts elect delegates next week. Thirty more will be chosen at the party’s state convention next month.
Wayne King, a Kings Mountain Republican and Cruz supporter already elected as a national delegate, cited President Barack Obama’s statement Friday opposing HB2.
“When Barack Obama and Donald Trump agree on something, I think that says all you need to say,” said King, a former vice chair of the N.C. GOP. “I certainly think it will help the cause.”
Trump will have 29 of the state’s 72 GOP delegates by virtue of winning the March 15 primary. Cruz, who finished second, will have 27.
But delegates are only bound to a candidate on the convention’s first ballot. If Trump fails to get 1,237 needed for nomination going into the convention, Cruz supporters could vote for their candidate on subsequent ballots.
“For some of the rank-and-file (Trump) supporters, this is kind of the last straw,” Cutlip said. “I think we’re going to see a lot more support for the Cruz delegates than we will for the Trump delegates.”
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks declined to comment.