A top Republican Party official expects all 2024 presidential candidates, including former President Donald Trump, to sign a pledge to support the party’s eventual nominee.
CNN’s Dana Bash pressed Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who won a fourth term last month, on whether Trump would be barred from debates if he did not sign off on such a pledge.
McDaniel noted Trump signed a pledge in the 2016 race and shared the view that Trump will do so again for the 2024 cycle to ensure President Joe Biden is defeated at the ballot box. Although Trump and other candidates did sign a pledge to support the 2016 presidential nominee and not run as an independent, by the spring of 2016, he and the two other competitors who remained in the contest — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ohio Governor John Kasich — appeared to back away from it.
“I think they’re all going to sign it.”
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tells @DanaBashCNN she expects that Trump will sign a pledge to support the Republican nominee even if it’s not him. @CNNSotu #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/fYI7du8FFX
— CNN (@CNN) February 26, 2023
“I think they’re all going to sign it. I really do,” McDaniel said after stressing the GOP has not yet set its criteria for the first Republican primary debate set for August 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, though the pledge is expected to be part of it.
“I think the voters are very intent on winning,” she added. “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.”
The response came after Bash played a clip of Trump telling conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in a recent interview his support for another Republican would “depend” on the person.
This time around, Trump is already trying out mocking nicknames for a top potential 2024 rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, including “Ron DeSanctimonious.” And he taunted Nikki Haley, his former ambassador to the United Nations, after she formally entered the race.
Bash urged McDaniel to consider the possibility Trump would rebel against the system. “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?” the “State of the Union” anchor asked.
“I think they all want to be on the debate stage,” McDaniel said. “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.”
Recent polling shows Trump leading a hypothetical field of GOP presidential candidates with 43% support of Republican primary voters, followed by DeSantis at 28%.
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2024 Republican Nominee preference among Republican Primary Voters: pic.twitter.com/BwjIIJZ1Y4
— Fox News Sunday (@FoxNewsSunday) February 26, 2023