GOP to make loyalty pledge prerequisite of primary debate participation

by Jacob Fuller

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

With the 2024 Republican presidential campaign seeming destined for contentiousness, party leaders are taking steps to protect the future of the party after the nominee finally emerges.

Sunday, GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced that all Republican candidates will, prior to being granted access to GOP debates, be required to pledge their support to the eventual winner.

“Republican voters will decide the Republican nominee, and anyone getting on the Republican National Committee debate stage should be able to say they will support the will of the voters and the eventual nominee of our party,” McDaniel tweeted Sunday night along with a video of her making a similar announcement on CNN.

This move by the GOP is in direct response to former President Donald Trump who, beyond having no reservation about treating his Republican contenders with the same dismissive attitude and insults as he does Democrats, has already indicated he might not support the 2024 nominee.

“It would depend,” Trump said earlier this month. “It would have to depend on who the nominee was.”

This is not a new tactic for Trump. In 2016, he famously was the only candidate to raise his hand during a GOP debate when the moderator asked if anyone on stage might consider running as an independent if they lost the nomination.

In the eyes of the former president, there can be only one top name in the Republican Party, and it is unlikely he will ever agree that it’s possible another person could legitimately become more popular than him.

“President Trump will support the Republican nominee because it will be him,” Reuters quoted a Trump campaign spokesperson as saying.

McDaniel, at least for now, is holding firm.

“It’s kind of a no-brainer, right? If you’re going to be on the Republican National Committee debate stage asking voters to support you, you should say, I’m going to support the voters and who they choose as the nominee,” McDaniel said during her CNN interview.

She also said, “We’re saying you’re not going to get on the debate stage unless you make this pledge. And I think people in our party really want to see that. They want to see us come together. They don’t want the infighting.”

A potential problem for McDaniel and the GOP is a scenario in which Trump refuses to take or backs out of the pledge. The statement from a campaign spokesperson is in no way binding.

There are few scenarios in which Trump is not a prime contender for the nomination, and the former president has a well-established aversion to going along to get along.

It would be quite a predicament for the GOP leaders if they were forced to choose between removing the pledge or holding a debate without a man who is almost certain to be among the frontrunners.