The Republican National Committee Shows It Understands Its Trump Problem

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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Apparently, the Republican National Committee (RNC) understands who it is dealing with. The organization’s leadership has put a rule in place designed to send a message to former President Donald Trump and to possibly assuage any concerns they might have about the GOP’s chances of winning the White House.

The RNC is set to institute a rule that will disallow any GOP presidential hopeful from participating in primary debates unless they sign a pledge to support the ultimate Republican nominee.

The Associated Press reported:

Republican presidential candidates will be blocked from the debate stage this summer if they do not sign a pledge to support the GOP’s ultimate presidential nominee, according to draft language set to be adopted when the Republican National Committee meets next week.

The report noted that the “proposal 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,” and that this potential outcome “could destroy the GOP’s White House aspirations in 2024” and even “raise existential questions about the party’s future.”

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told the AP that “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.”

A senior Trump aide told the AP that they could “not say whether the former president would sign the pledge to support the eventual nominee but suggested privately that he plans to participate in the debates.”

“President Trump is the undisputed leader of the Republican Party and will be the nominee,” said Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign. “There is nobody who can outmatch President Trump’s energy or the enthusiasm he receives from Americans of all backgrounds.”

During the 2016 campaign, Trump signed a similar pledge that was not related to participation in the primary debates. He later went back on the pledge during the primary season and would not commit to supporting the nominee if he did not win.

The RNC is expected to enact the pledge when its Temporary Standing Committee on Presidential Debates meets next week to hammer out the rules that will govern the process. “The committee is considering between 10 and 12 debates to begin in late July at the Reagan Library in California or at the RNC’s summer meeting in Milwaukee, the host of the GOP’s next national convention,” according to the AP.

As RedState’s Bonchie pointed out, this is an uncharacteristically smart move on the part of the RNC. It shows the leadership realizes the situation in which they find themselves. As I pointed out previously, if Trump does not secure the GOP nomination, it is highly unlikely that he will throw his support behind the candidate who does. He may not run as an Independent, but, if rejected, it is likely that he will try to burn the whole thing down on the way out.

It would not be beyond the realm of possibility that he will claim the primaries were rigged by the establishment to install someone like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the party’s new standard-bearer. The most recent polling from Quinnipiac University shows Trump leading the governor 42% to 36%. However, when adding other candidates into the mix, Trump’s lead narrowed, with 43% in support of the former president and 41% in favor of DeSantis. These numbers indicate the scenario outline above could become a reality.

If Trump decides to go on the warpath against the GOP after voters choose a different candidate, it will spell doom for the party’s chance to take back the White House in 2024. While the former president’s support has cooled, he still enjoys tremendous influence over the base and is still well-loved. It would not be a stretch to suggest that many of these people will stay home in the general election. If Trump does decide to run as an Independent candidate, he will undoubtedly take a significant amount of votes from the Republican candidate, which could also have dire ramifications for the party–even beyond 2024.



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