Jun 25, 2023 - Politics & Policy

GOP loyalty pledge draws heat from 2024 candidates

Former US President Donald Trump speaks during an event at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, US, on Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Former President Trump speaks during an event at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on June 13. Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Republican National Committee loyalty pledge has a growing list of detractors among 2024 candidates, in the latest sign of Republican Party infighting and reluctance to coalesce around former President Trump if he is the eventual nominee.

Driving the news: Former Texas Rep. Will Hurd said this week that he would not sign the Republican National Committee pledge to support the eventual 2024 GOP nominee, making him the latest Trump critic to snub the idea.

  • "I won't be signing any kinds of pledges and I don't think that parties should be trying to rig who should be on a debate stage," Hurd, who announced his 2024 bid on Thursday, told CNN.
  • "I am not in the business of lying to the American people in order to get a microphone," he said, adding that he would not support Trump if he's the eventual nominee.

The big picture: The RNC said in February that any candidate who wants to participate in the first debate will have to sign a pledge to support the eventual nominee.

  • RNC chair Ronna McDaniel called the requirement a "no-brainer" and added then that Republicans "want to see us come together."
  • It's one of a number of requirements to qualify for the August debate, which also include polling and donor thresholds.
  • Former President Trump is the front-runner in the crowded primary, recent polls show.

Zoom out: The pledge has drawn criticism from some 2024 hopefuls, especially following the former president's historic criminal indictment over his handling of classified documents.

  • GOP primary candidate and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Trump critic, dismissed the pledge as a "useless idea" and said that in his life "we never had to have Republican primary candidates take a pledge."
  • "It’s only the era of Donald Trump that you need somebody to sign something on a pledge,” Christie added. “So I think it’s a bad idea."
  • Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson's campaign reportedly requested a meeting with RNC officials to discuss potentially changing the pledge in light of Trump's indictment, per Politico.
  • Hutchinson told Politico that he would not vote for Trump if he is convicted in a criminal trial.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely considered Trump's most formidable Republican challenger, also would not say this week whether he would support the former president if he is the Republican nominee.

Between the lines: Trump has previously refused to answer whether he would back the Republican nominee if it is not him.

Meanwhile, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley slammed Trump and DeSantis for not committing to support the Republican nominee.

  • "Absolutely irresponsible that Trump, DeSantis and others won't commit 100% to supporting the Republican nominee," she wrote in a tweet.
  • "There’s no room for personal vendettas in this battle to save our country."

The RNC has doubled down on the loyalty pledge and maintains that it will stick around as a debate requirement.

  • "It's the Republican Party nomination and the pledge is staying and anybody who wants to seek the nomination of our party should pledge to support the voters," McDaniel said this week on "Fox News Tonight."
  • "If you go through this process and you take time on the debate stage and you're going to be there, the No. 1 pledge should be 'beat Biden,'" she added.

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