Aug 9, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he won't sign RNC loyalty pledge required for debate

Former U.S. President Donald Trump on stage before delivering remarks at Windham High School on August 8, 2023 in Windham, New Hampshire. This is the fourth visit that former President Trump has made to New Hampshire this campaign season.

Former President Trump at an event in Windham, New Hampshire, this week. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Former President Trump said Wednesday he won't sign an RNC loyalty pledge to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee.

Why it matters: The Republican National Committee requires all candidates to sign the pledge in order to take part in the first primary debate, which Fox News will broadcast on Aug. 23.

  • Republican presidential front-runner Trump has previously hinted that he may skip the debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and his comments to Newsmax on Wednesday are the strongest sign yet that he won't attend.

What he's saying: "I wouldn't sign the pledge. Why would I sign a pledge if there are people on there that I wouldn't have?" Trump told Newsmax's Eric Bolling.

  • "I can name three or four people that I wouldn't support for president. So right there, there's a problem," he said.
  • Trump added that former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both staunch Trump critics, would "ask me nasty questions" at the debate.
  • He said Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy were both "very nice ... very capable" and "very good people, but why would you do that when you're leading by so much?"

Worth noting: South Carolina Republican Party officials told AP Trump did sign paperwork for the Feb. 24 S.C. GOP primary and pay a $50,000 filing fee.

What we're watching: Trump said he'll announce next week whether he'll attend the first debate.

  • "I haven't totally ruled it out," he added.

Go deeper: 5 burning questions for the first Republican debate

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include comment from South Carolina Republican Party officials.

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