The Republican National Committee (RNC) faces a dilemma with the upcoming GOP primary debate, as former President Trump has declined to sign its loyalty pledge.
Trump revealed last week that he wouldn’t endorse the pledge, and an announcement about his attendance at the event is anticipated soon.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is tasked with the delicate balance of accommodating Trump — who is not only a significant attraction for viewers but also the clear front-runner — and asserting her leadership within the party.
“It’s a distinct possibility that the Republican nominee for president could simply decide to shun the RNC itself,” said Brian Seitchik, a Republican strategist. “When a candidate refuses to play by the rules, it obviously weakens the RNC’s position.”
Nevertheless, McDaniel has not suggested that the RNC will provide any special accommodations for the former president.
“It’s the Beat Biden Pledge,” McDaniel 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,” she added, when asked by Wallace if that applied to Trump as well. “It’s across the board. The rules aren’t changing. We’ve been very vocal with them.”
The pledge requires the candidate to back the ultimate nominee of the party’s primary and abstain from attending any debate not endorsed by the RNC. Adherence to this pledge is among the qualifications Republican candidates must satisfy to participate in the inaugural presidential primary debate scheduled for Aug. 23.
Trump has previously resisted the RNC’s efforts to encourage primary candidates to unite behind the final nominee in the spirit of party cohesion. Back in August 2015, Trump was the sole individual at a GOP primary debate who didn’t signal his commitment to supporting the 2016 primary’s eventual nominee. There were 17 Republicans competing for the nomination at the time.
Donald Trump is running far ahead of his GOP primary competitors and has secured well above 50 percent support for the 2024 ticket, according to RealClearPolitics aggregate polling.