Thanks to a new Republican National Committee rule, Former President Donald Trump may be in some trouble going into the 2024 presidential election.
The new rule states that presidential candidates who want to participate in the GOP primary debates must sign a loyalty pledge to support the eventual primary winner.
“After the primary, it is imperative to the health and growth of our Republican Party, as well as the country, that we all come together and unite behind our nominee to defeat Joe Biden and the Democrats,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel confirmed in a statement to the Associated Press.
This could pose a huge problem for Trump, who during the 2016 presidential election had famously refused to pledge to support the eventual nominee:
Luckily, he won the nomination, so it became a moot issue. But it clearly wouldn’t be so easy this time around given the new rule.
That said, while a senior Trump aide declined to say whether the former president will sign the loyalty pledge, the aide did guarantee that he’ll participate in the GOP primary debates one way or another.
Campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung also declined to answer the question with a simple yes/no.
“President Trump is the undisputed leader of the Republican Party and will be the nominee. There is nobody who can outmatch President Trump’s energy or the enthusiasm he receives from Americans of all backgrounds,” he instead said.
The AP for its part notes that, regardless of the chatter, the new rule “sets up a potential clash with former President Donald Trump, who has raised the possibility of leaving the Republican Party and launching an independent candidacy if he does not win the GOP nomination outright.”
He raised the possibility in December when he shared an article to Truth Social from American Greatness calling for him to run independently:
The piece was written by Dan Gelernter, who admitted that Trump would probably lose a third-party run but suggested he do it anyway to teach the “corrupt” GOP establishment a lesson.
“Do I think Trump can win as a third-party candidate? No. Would I vote for him as a third-party candidate? Yes. Because I’m not interested in propping up this corrupt gravy-train any longer,” Gelernter wrote.
“Mitch McConnell says that ‘providing assistance for Ukrainians to defeat the Russians is the number one priority for the United States right now, according to most Republicans.’ Most Republicans where? Inside his bank account? There are not enough unprintable words in the dictionary to say everything that statements like McConnell’s conjure up in my mind. But here are a few he might understand: ‘I’m fed up. And I’m out,'” he added.
Going back to the loyalty pledge, Trump isn’t the only one with a problem with it. Fascinatingly, several other would-be candidates have raised concerns about it for various reasons, one of them being the worry that Trump will win the nomination.
Case in point:
To be clear, my position on Trump hasn’t changed. Trump won’t commit to supporting the Republican nominee, and I won’t commit to supporting him. As I have repeatedly said, I fully expect to support the Republican nominee — who I don’t believe will be Trump.
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) February 2, 2023
And then there’s New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who just launched a new organization to help him prepare for a possible run.
According to The Washington Post, he “says he will support the eventual nominee, but is certain Trump won’t be that person.”
Meanwhile, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has reportedly argued to McDaniel that there shouldn’t be a litmus test for participating in debates — especially a litmus test that may very well wind up involving Trump
“Historically, our party has not taken party loyalty oaths. For leaders such as myself who believe Donald Trump is not the right direction for the country — and I said specifically that Jan. 6 disqualified him — that would certainly make it a problem for me to give an across-the-board inclusion pledge,” he reportedly said.
The Post notes, however, that McDaniel refuses to back down amid these complaints.
“The pushback has underscored McDaniel’s concern but has not shifted her plans, according to multiple people involved in the process who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the planning,” according to the outlet.
“The Republican National Committee’s Temporary Standing Committee on Presidential Debates plans to meet next Wednesday and Thursday to formally set the rules for officially sanctioned debates this year. They intend to require candidates to sign a pledge to support the eventual nominee modeled on a similar document circulated by the RNC in 2015.
Plus, there’s what she said on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast last month: “We do need to come out of this primary united. And we have a lot of candidates running saying, ‘I’ll never support Trump,’ and if you are going to get on this debate stage, you are going to have to say, ‘I’m going to support the nominee.’”
“We cannot have a rigorous debate process and come out with a nominee and have anyone say, ‘I’m walking away,’” she added.
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