- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 4, 2023

Former President Donald Trump refused to commit to signing a pledge to support the GOP’s ultimate presidential nominee, setting up a potential clash with the Republican National Committee.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel has said candidates will have to sign the pledge if they want to participate in RNC-sanctioned primary debates.

But Mr. Trump, the front-runner in the race, told reporters at CPAC that it depends on the candidate.

“I’m just hearing about it for the first time, about the loyalty pledge but there are probably people that I wouldn’t be very happy about endorsing who are running,” Mr. Trump said. “So we’ll see.”

“I think some of them, I won’t use names, I don’t want to insult anybody, but some of them I would not be very happy about,” he said.

Republicans have long feared the prospect of Mr. Trump leaving the party to launch an independent candidacy if he loses the 2024 nomination race.

SEE ALSO: Trump promises GOP will never again be led by ‘freaks, neocons, globalists, open borders zealots’

Ms. McDaniel said in a recent appearance on CNN that requiring candidates to sign the pledge is “kind of a no-brainer.” 

“If you’re going to be on the Republican National Committee debate stage asking voters to support you, you should say, ‘I’m going to support the voters and who they choose as the nominee.’”

Mr. Trump made a similar move in the 2016 race, signing a loyalty oath for RNC Chairman Reince Priebus when 17 candidates were vying for the nomination. When the contest tightened to a three-man race, Mr. Trump said he might not honor the pledge.

The 2024 GOP presidential field is slowly coming together. Mr. Trump at the moment is facing off against Nikki Haley, who served as his ambassador to the U.N.

The field also includes a pair of lesser-known contenders like businessmen Vivek Ramaswamy and Perry Johnson.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and former Vice President Mike Pence are expected to enter the race later this year. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also is considering a bid.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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