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Story highlights

RNC members blocked a proposed set of convention rules changes

It would have prevented a new candidate from emerging in Cleveland

Hollywood, Florida CNN —  

Republican Party officials blocked a proposed rule change Thursday amid intense pressure to not appear that they favoring any of the three remaining candidates for the White House.

The party’s Rules Committee killed a measure from Oregon member Solomon Yue that would have suggested the convention follow Robert’s Rules of Order instead of the rules of the U.S. House, a change he said was needed to block establishment figures from nominating a surprise, fourth candidate at the convention.

But a litany of Republican National Committee members – including John Ryder, the party’s top lawyer – argued that any change to the 2012 convention rules would fuel the public outrage sparked by Donald Trump over the complex delegate process.

Ryder argued that restraint would be the better option.

“I think this is a point where our conservative instincts, as well as our conservative principles, should come into play,” Ryder told the panel.

But Yue argued that his proposal could actually prevent the game-rigging that party activists and Trump supporters are worried about. Yue argued that using House rules would give 2016 convention chairman Paul Ryan the power to direct convention delegates to select someone other than Trump, Ted Cruz or John Kasich.

House rules, Yue said, would allow a simple majority of delegates to re-open nominations at the convention, opening the door for a surprise pick.

The rules fight took center stage at the party’s spring meeting here at The Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Florida, in a rare bit of focus on the mechanics of how the party selects its nominee. It was sparked by the delegate fight between Trump and Cruz and the real estate magnate’s allegations of a “rigged” nominating system.

Thursday’s meeting was largely anti-climactic as party stalwarts kept a lid on Yue’s proposal and even removed some other measures from consideration. But it gave a preview of what it is likely to be a much nastier fight once the convention rules committee – a separate panel that formally sets the guidelines for the convention – is assembled and begins selecting its debates.