Donald Trump Has a Two-Pronged Plan to Win at a Contested GOP Convention

Getty Images

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump says he'll win his party's nomination outright, but behind the scenes, he's preparing for a floor fight at the GOP convention in the summer.

A top aide to Trump told NBC News that the team is pursuing a two-pronged strategy to make sure he gets the 1,237 delegates he needs to proceed to the November general election.

Read more: 
2016 Arizona Republican Primary: Donald Trump Cruises to Victory Over Cruz
• 2016 Utah Republican Caucus: Ted Cruz Soundly Defeats Donald Trump

Barry Bennett, a former adviser to GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson, told NBC the Trump campaign is courting "tons" of delegates in preparation for the "open" or "contested" convention Republicans will hold if no candidate reaches the 1,237 threshold outright. 

"You've got 40 days between the last primary and the convention to go woo the appropriate number of unbound delegates," he told NBC.

Trump has 739 delegates in his column, while rival Ted Cruz has 465, according to the latest figures from RealClearPolitics

Marco Rubio, who suspended his campaign after a devastating loss in his home state of Florida, collected 166, and the last man standing in the race, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, has 143.

At an open convention, delegates on the floor vote in rounds until they settle on a nominee.

NBC noted "there are now 323 delegates currently up for grabs on the first ballot. These are delegates who backed Rubio and Carson or hail from states that don't bind their vote, (such as Colorado and North Dakota)."

If Trump — who has said he thinks there would be "riots" if he doesn't get the nomination — can get signed pledges from enough of those uncommitted delegates, it would send the entire party a sign that he's got the nomination locked up.

There are still many states that haven't yet voted, and Trump, as he's said, could win enough delegates in those primaries to secure the nomination outright.

The next big contest comes April 5 in Wisconsin, followed by the New York GOP primary April 19.