Donald Trump has now officially rendered the Republican National Committee useless, and the RNC is proving equal to the task.
On Wednesday, Trump told the right-wing outlet Newsmax he would not sign the RNC's so-called loyalty pledge to support whoever won the 2024 Republican nomination.
“Why would I sign a pledge? There are people on there that I wouldn’t have," Trump offered in the interview with Eric Bolling. “I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for president. So right there, there’s a problem right there,” he added, declining to name names. Trump did single out Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy for praise, an admittedly clever way of putting two up and comers on notice that they might be in line for vice president if they play their cards right.
The RNC has made signing the pledge a prerequisite for qualifying for the first Republican debate coming up on Aug. 23, which Trump also deems as useless as the RNC given his current dominance of the field.
“Why would you do that when you’re leading by so much?” he told Bolling. "It's not a question of guts. It’s a question of intelligence." (Daily Kos readers appear to have correctly predicted Trump’s absence, with some 61% saying he would skip the debate compared to 29% believing he would participate.)
Trump isn't wrong. As the epic disintegration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues, Trump now leads his chief rival by some 40 points in the FiveThirtyEight national aggregate. In fact, a national survey released Thursday by the Republican pollster Cygnal found that Ramaswamy at 11% has overtaken DeSantis at 10%.
National polling certainly isn't predictive of outcomes in early primary states, except maybe when a candidate who once polled in the 30s starts flirting with single-digit territory. Yikes.
But insofar as the RNC loyalty pledge goes, Trump has finally revealed it to be the joke it was from the start. One way or the other, Trump was bound to spurn the pledge and summarily rub the RNC's nose in it while doing so. He would either take the pledge and then renege on it in front of a live audience during the first debate (a lá 2016), or decide he didn't need the RNC's piss-ant debate anyway. Trump appears to be opting for the latter.
Asked for comment on Trump's rejection, the premier Republican organization in the country demurred, instead pointing reporters to remarks made last month by RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel.
“The rules aren’t changing,” she told CNN. “We’ve been very vocal with them.”
Translation: We're a toothless organization that has been fronting for Trump from the get-go.
At least one GOP candidate took the newly neutered pledge as a golden ticket. On Thursday morning, former UN ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley tweeted out her signed pledge right on the heels of Trump's rejection, joining Ramaswamy and DeSantis in making her subservience official.
"Alright fellas, your turn," Haley tweeted, with a screenshot of the pledge attached.
Nice one, Haley. She’d make a great vice presidential candidate assuming she’s enthused about the prospect of being the target of Trump's gallows treatment one day.
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