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RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said that 'the minority of delegates doesn't rule for the majority'

Priebus said it'll be up to the rules committee at the 2016 convention to decide who can be nominated

Washington CNN —  

The Republican National Committee chairman wouldn’t back Donald Trump’s argument that the candidates with the most delegates headed into the party’s convention in Cleveland should automatically win the nomination.

Reince Priebus told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday that if no candidate wins the 1,237 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination before the convention, it’s up to GOP delegates to decide how to go forward.

“This is a delegate-driven process. This is the first time in a long time people actually cared about delegate count, but delegates matter,” Priebus said. “The minority of delegates doesn’t rule for the majority.”

He pointed out that he was named Republican chairman on the seventh ballot – and though he led the entire race, “no one gave it to me on the second or third ballot. In fact, I had to fight and fight and fight, and eventually I got the majority. That’s how it works.”

“No one’s disenfranchised. In fact, they’re empowered by the delegates they receive,” he said.

Priebus complained that “there’s a lot of misinformation” about Republican rules – including one from 2012 that required candidates to have a majority of delegates from at least eight states in order to be nominated on the floor.

He said those 2012 rules don’t necessarily carry over to 2016 – when the delegates will elect a new rules committee to write its convention rules.

“Are you trying to say that the rules committee that was made up of Romney delegates should enforce the rules for the 2016 convention, which will largely be made up of Trump/Cruz delegates?” Priebus said.

Trump predicted on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that he will top 1,237 delegates before the convention in Cleveland.

“I think we will get over that number. There’s tremendous spirit about make America great again,” he said.

But he said a wide Republican field has made it tough to reach that mark, and “if I’m a few short and I have, you know, 1,200 or if I have 1,100 and somebody else is at 300 or 400 or 500, which is very likely going to be the case,” he should be the nominee.

Trump said he’d tell his supporters not to riot if he didn’t win the nomination, but that his backers are “fervent.”

“All I can say is this, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Trump said. “But I will say this, you’re going to have a lot of very unhappy people. And I think, frankly, for the Republicans to disenfranchise all those people because if that happens, they’re not voting and the Republicans lose.”