Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said Sunday that any candidate who wants to take part in the GOP’s first primary debate later this year in Milwaukee will have to sign a loyalty pledge beforehand, otherwise they will not be able to participate in the debate. This announcement comes as a surprise in what seems like a direct threat to Donald Trump, who was first to announce his presidential run, much to the irritation of RNC and even conservative news outlets like Fox News, who have abandoned support of the former president.
The pledged McDaniels is demanding of all candidates is to promise to support whoever is to become the nominee irrespective of who wins the nomination, Politico reported.
“We’re saying you’re not going to get on the debate stage unless you make this pledge,” McDaniel said during an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” Having recently been voted in for her fourth term as the RNC chair after a contentious campaign against Harmeet Dhillon, McDaniel stated that Republican voters are tired of the “infighting” within the party, and that they “want to see us come together.”
At present, there are three prominent candidates entering the GOP presidential primary – former president Donald Trump, former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and conservative entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. It is expected that a number of other candidates will also join the race, including former Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of the United States.
McDaniel described this new pledge rule as “a no-brainer,” and that she expects all candidates who decide to join what could soon become a very crowded race to sign it.
“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.
This latest requirement was made after Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt earlier this month that his support for a GOP candidate in the general election will be determined by who is chosen as the nominee for the party.
When asked about whether she thinks Trump will agree to sign the pledge, McDaniel said she believes the former president will agree to it. “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.”
During the aforementioned interview with Hugh Hewitt, the host asked former President Trump what he referred to as a “hard question” about Trump’s potential reelection.
Hugh Hewitt: “First hard question – some worry that if you are reelected president, you will use your powers to seek revenge on the people that have been after you since 2016 and 2015. What do you say to those people who say you’d abuse the office if you’re reelected?”
Trump replied saying he was a victim. “Well, when you look at that Columbia report, which was very devastating to the New York Times and to really everything, to our country because of what they did, you know, I was a victim, and everyone knows it. And now, they really know it. That was a well-crafted report by a rather liberal, I’m being nice, group of people. That was…”
Hewitt agreed that Columbia Journalism Review is very left-wing and on that acknowledgement Trump continued:
“I’m trying to be nice, but that was a devastating report, and I think probably more so than anybody else. Well, the people that participated, but the New York Times was truly made into either a smart and evil group, or a stupid group. And by the way, I’m suing Pulitzer, and this should be almost the end of that, because if a judge and jury see this report, to give back the Pulitzer Prizes, because the New York Times and the Washington Compost got, and they got it, and they got it strongly, they got, they had all of the different things. They knew everything that was going on. They reported so badly. You know, the Pulitzer Prize is supposed to be for great reporting, for accurate reporting. Congratulations, you’ve done…well, they got it exactly wrong. They accused me…”
Later in the interview, Trump was asked for a response on Nikki Haley running for president, to which he replied:
“Well, she called me and she asked me about it, and I told her she should follow her heart. You know, she said numerous times, I put it up, actually, that I would never run if our president runs. He was a great president, et cetera, et cetera. She said that numerous times. But she’s a very ambitious person. She just couldn’t stay in her seat. And I said you know what? Nikki, if you want to run, you go ahead and run.”