Trump Not Signing Loyalty Pledge Puts RNC in a ‘Pickle,’ Analyst Says

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
August 17, 2023Donald Trump
Trump Not Signing Loyalty Pledge Puts RNC in a ‘Pickle,’ Analyst Says
President Donald Trump speaks after his introduction by RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel at a fundraising breakfast in a restaurant in New York, N.Y., on Dec. 2, 2017. (Mandel Ngan /AFP/Getty Images)

Some GOP analysts say that former President Donald Trump’s move to not sign a Republican National Committee (RNC) loyalty pledge to attend the first debate could spell trouble for the RNC’s power.

“The RNC needs Trump a lot more than Trump needs the RNC,” said Jennifer Horn, a former chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee and co-founder of the controversial Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, according to The Hill. “Whether they want him to be the head of the party or not, the party is following him, not the RNC.”

If RNC officials “lose” the onetime president, they will then “lose the support of the Trump voters and their base for their Senate candidates, their House candidates, their state candidates,” Ms. Horn said.

In a recent interview with Newsmax, President Trump again said he wouldn’t sign the pledge. However, it’s not clear if the former president will attend the debate, scheduled for Aug. 23.

“I wouldn’t sign the pledge,” the former commander-in-chief said. “Why would I sign a pledge if there are people on there that I wouldn’t have?”

And RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has not indicated whether the RNC would make an exception for President Trump. Opinion polls show that the former president is easily the No. 1 GOP candidate, easily beating out the likes of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and others.

The latest Real Clear Politics average suggests President Trump is leading the fray with 54.4 percent support. Mr. DeSantis trails in second place with about 15 percent support, while the rest of the field is polling at single digits.

“It’s a distinct possibility that the Republican nominee for president could simply decide to shun the RNC itself,” Brian Seitchik, a Republican strategist and former Trump campaign member, told The Hill this week. “When a candidate refuses to play by the rules, it obviously weakens the RNC’s position.”

Mr. Seitchik noted to the outlet that there is a significant disconnect between the RNC and party establishment figures and supporters of the former president. “It speaks to the complicated relationship between Trump voters and the Republican Party,” he said.

Bryan Lanza, an adviser to the Trump 2016 campaign who is still close to the former president’s team, told the Miami Herald that the loyalty pledge is essentially a power struggle between the former president’s grassroots supporters and RNC.

“It’s about the party trying to assert its power over the grassroots movement, but you can’t do that when the frontrunner is the grassroots movement,” Mr. Lanza said. “I think the president very much wants to show that he has the power.”

Because of President Trump’s popularity, “The RNC is in a pickle,” he said.

And Doug Heye, a Republican strategist and former communications director for the RNC, told the paper that the onetime president is trying to show that he still has command over the GOP. “Why would anyone expect Donald Trump to back anyone other than Donald Trump?” he said.

The Epoch Times has contacted the RNC for comment Thursday.

A spokesperson for the Trump 2024 campaign told the Washington Examiner that the former president likely won’t attend the Aug. 23 debate. He noted that polling numbers show President Trump is far ahead of the pack.

“President Trump leads the Republican field by more than 40 points. So he’s going to dominate the conversation at the debate whether he’s there or not. Meanwhile, Ron [DeSantis] is dropping like a rock and finds himself in third place in many polls with his opponents smelling blood in the water,” spokesman and adviser Jason Miller told the paper.

McDaniel’s Comment

During an interview last month on CNN, Ms. McDaniel said the committee would stick to its plan to honor the pledge.

“It’s the Beat Biden Pledge,” she told CNN’s Chris Wallace. “And what we’re saying—and the debate committee has met for over two years people from Alaska to Illinois to Tennessee—is if you’re going to stand on the Republican National Committee debate stage you should be able to support the nominee and beat Biden.”

“Everybody has to sign the Beat Biden Pledge. Everybody,” Ms. McDaniel added when asked by Mr. Wallace if that applied to President Trump. “It’s across the board. The rules aren’t changing. We’ve been very vocal with them.”

Those who have signed the RNC’s pledge include Mr. DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence has said in interviews that he would sign it, while former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told Fox News this week he would sign it if he receives it from the RNC.

“You can’t on the one hand say the country is going in such a bad direction, which we all believe, and on the other hand say you’re just going to take your ball and go home,” Mr. DeSantis said last week while campaigning in Iowa.

From The Epoch Times

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