Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel argued during a CNN discussion this Sunday that President Donald Trump would support the 2024 GOP presidential nominee even if it weren’t him.
The discussion began with CNN’s Dana Bash asking her whether the RNC will require GOP presidential primary debate opponents to sign a loyalty pledge before they get on stage.
“We haven’t put the criteria out, but I expect the pledge will be part of it. It was part of 2016. … Anybody getting on the Republican National Committee debate stage should be able to say, I will support the will of the voters and the eventual nominee of our party,” McDaniel replied.
Bash then sought to checkmate McDaniel by playing a clip from earlier this month of Trump telling conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt that he wouldn’t necessarily support the nominee if it weren’t him.
“It would depend. I would give you the same answer I gave in 2016 during the debate. … It would have to depend on who the nominee was,” he’d told Hewitt.
After playing the clip, Bash then asked McDaniel whether the RNC is prepared to block Trump from the debate stage if he refuses to sign the loyalty pledge.
Instead of just answering the question, the RNC chair responded by arguing that she believes he’ll sign it just as he’d admittedly done in 2016.
“Well, he signed it in 2016. … I think they’re all going to sign it. I really do,” she said.
“I think the voters are very intent on winning. And they do not want to see a debate stage of people saying, I’m not going to support this guy, I’m not going to support this guy. What they need to say is, I’m going to do everything I can to defeat Joe Biden. And that means supporting the nominee of the Republican Party,” she added.
Bash was left wholly unconvinced.
“You can’t see a scenario where Donald Trump would just skip the debate if he’s forced to sign something saying he will support others?” she asked.
“I think they all want to be on the debate stage. I think President Trump would like to be on the debate stage. That’s what he likes to do. And I expect they will all be there,” McDaniel replied.
Bash isn’t the only one who’s raised concerns. So has Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican:
Hogan on RNC loyalty pledge: pic.twitter.com/MQsxGNMZtL
— Tom LoBianco (@tomlobianco) February 19, 2023
Evidently satisfied with her answer, Bash then questioned the RNC chair about critics of the pledge like former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who worries that a loyalty pledge would force other candidates to endorse Trump against their will.
“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,” Hutchinson recently said.
With this in mind, Bash then asked McDaniel how the RNC can force him and others to go against their so-called principles.
“I think you support the voters. The voters get to choose. And if the Republican voters pick the nominee, then everybody on that debate stage who is running on the Republican National Committee debate and the Republican National Committee primaries should say, I’m going to support the nominee,” the RNC chair replied.
“Listen, I say this all the time. Dana, I am Mitt Romney’s niece, and I was appointed to the RNC by Donald Trump. And I would support both — support both of them if they were the nominee of our party over Joe Biden. But I don’t know if they would support each other,” she added.
“We have to come together as a party. We saw big races lost this cycle because of Republicans refusing to support other Republicans. And unless we fix this in our party, unless we start coming together, we will not win in 2024. And I am committed to making sure we come together as a party,” she concluded.
Bash wasn’t satisfied with this answer. Indeed, she persisted in her line of questioning by accusing McDaniel of trying to force potential candidates like Hutchinson to choose their party over their country.
“Oh, I don’t see it that way. That may be how he sees it. I don’t see it that way. I think, if the voters choose Donald Trump to be the nominee, if they choose Mike Pence, if they choose Mike Pompeo or Asa Hutchinson, everybody should support the will of the voters. And we’re not going to defeat Joe Biden if we get in this tit for tat of, I’m not going to support this nominee and I’m not going to support this one,” McDaniel replied.
“So that’s why we want to put this to bed early. This is a pledge that’s been in existence. It was there in 2016. And we should make sure that every candidate on the Republican National Committee debate stage does what I have to do, which is support the nominee of our party,” she added.
In related news, former House Speaker Paul Ryan has vowed to not attend the 2024 Republican National Convention if Trump becomes the nominee:
BREAKING: Paul Ryan says he will not attend the RNC if the nominee is Trump pic.twitter.com/2U7jwcsRnv
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) February 25, 2023
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