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Anti-Trump Delegates Make Their Last, Last Stand

CLEVELAND, Ohio — After suffering a stinging defeat last week in the tedious Republican Convention Rules Committee, delegates who are opposed to Donald Trump are planning a final stand-off for Monday, the first day of the convention.

When the convention opens Monday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. ET, among the first order of business will be to pass the rules governing the convention, which a 112-member committee of delegates hashed out last week.

The anti-Trump delegates now plan to use the support they have among the full body of delegates to push their demands, organizers of the effort tell NBC News.

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The Trump campaign and the the Republican Party, who are opposed to the efforts, say they are prepared for a variety of efforts by anti-Trump delegates. And Ben Ginsberg, convention rules expert, said that it's going to be "very difficult" for the rebel delegates to be successful.

Delegates who don’t want to vote for Trump have sided with activists who believe delegates are free to vote their conscience. Together the groups have been working in concert to pass their respective, but closely intertwined agendas.

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The leaders of the movement said they have the support of a majority of delegates in seven states to force the rules passed last week be thrown out. And what they want is the 2016 rules to be void and the convention to be governed by the 2012 rules.

Why do they want this?

Because this year's Rules Committee successfully passed a rule that explicitly says that delegates are bound. But under the 2012 rules, delegates are bound outright, giving them cover if they wanted to vote their conscience.

Current delegates couldn't vote for whatever candidate they'd like unless they broke party rules. And many Republican delegates do not want to break party rules, which doing so has repercussions from within the party.

If those rules are thrown out, then the convention would most likely be governed by the 2012 rules that doesn’t say outright that delegates are bound, giving delegates room to vote as if they were unbound, proponents argue. (Republican Party leaders and many delegates interpret the rules to say delegates are bound).

The last time the rules explicitly said delegates were bound was during the 1976 convention when party officials put the measure in the rules to protect President Gerald Ford from insurgent candidate, California Governor Ronald Reagan.

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A coalition of delegates backing Donald Trump and members of the Republican Party (while all delegates are Republican not all delegate are members of the Republican Party and some oppose the party because they think it’s too heavy-handed) defeated a series of measures in the convention Rules Committee last week, greatly diminishing their chances of success.