GOP interests to swarm CNMI?

Trump consultant on island

A change in U.S. Republican Party convention rules in 2012 could entice presidential hopefuls to the Commonwealth and other island territories. That rule change now requires presidential candidates to win a majority of eight delegations across the mainland and U.S. territory-wide to be entered into nomination and have their delegates counted at the Republican National Convention, scheduled for Cleveland, Ohio in July 2016.

This means, local GOP officials told Saipan Tribune this week, that a Republican hopeful need only to win eight out the 55-some states or territories to get on the national floor.

If they sweep the territories, they get about nine delegations in the Pacific, a huge amount overall.

Time magazine, however, reported in October that this rule—the “Rule of 40”—is “almost certain to be amended in the week leading up to the GOP convention, depending on circumstances.”

The magazine reports the change was made to prevent Rand Paul from getting on the floor.

For instance, Time said, Republicans could move the minimum number higher, in the case of a clear nominee, or lower, if there’s a contested convention.

Nevertheless, Republican interests are expected to swarm the islands soon.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, for one, sent campaign consultant Dennis Lennox to American Samoa in September, and blasted federal cabotage laws that they said prevented economic growth, the Samoa News Reports.

And now, Donald Trump—known for his controversial statements on immigration, women, and with a infamous hairdo to boot—has sent a representative to meet with the local GOP president and younger GOP members, party officials said this week.

Alan Cobb, Trump’s strategic consultant, arrived on island yesterday, confirmed Jason Osborne yesterday, the executive director of the local GOP party. Cobb is scheduled to leave tomorrow.

Osborne also said there are talks to have a Cruz representative visit the CNMI.

Local GOP officials said this week that every Republican candidate—with the exception of Ohio governor John Kasich—has paid the $7,500 fee the CNMI GOP set to put their name on the ballot for the presidential primary.

Both GOP and Democratic Party members in all five territories can vote in local caucuses or conventions to select that party’s nominee for the presidential election.

The dues will help pay trips to the Republican National Convention, GOP officials said.

The GOP is planning to send nine delegates from the CNMI.


It’s unclear right now what most of these presidential hopeful plan for the CNMI should they be nominated and elected president.

Trump, for one, has come out with a hardline stance on immigration, reportedly asserting that he would deport the reported 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

The CNMI’s unique contract worker program—reported to allow about 11,000 foreign nationals to live and work in the CNMI—is seen as the lifeline of the local economy here. However, federal law mandates an end to the program in 2019, much to the worry of business and government leaders.

Ted Cruz, the Samoa News Reports, wants to listen to what the territories have to say.

“American Samoa matters,” Lennox told Samoa News. “For far too long American Samoa has been treated like it’s this long forgotten stepchild or the despised bastard of Washington. And this needs to end.”

Osborne, who is also a senior strategist for Republican candidate Dr. Ben Carson, told Saipan Tribune that Carson has a planned agenda for Commonwealth issues.

These issues include the CW program, the Jones Act, the regional military buildup, and plans for territories to have a representative in the White House consulting Carson, if elected.

Carson plans to create a Territory and Commonwealth Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

He also plans to appoint a special assistant to the President responsible for day-to-day interaction with the territories and commonwealths.

Osborne said these officials would advise Carson of what he can do, either through his administration, or by putting together a package for legislation in Congress, to address issues like Obamacare, which does not apply to the CNMI, or how territories can serve U.S. flagged vessels while the CNMI cannot.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at

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