Recent news reports claim that the Republican National Committee is considering a new requirement for any Republican candidate seeking to take part in a Presidential debate; namely, that the candidate pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee. The proposal is expected to be adopted at this coming week’s RNC meeting. See, https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/republicans-adopt-loyalty-pledge-debate-participants-97290470
For purposes of this blog post, let’s assume the RNC does, in fact, adopt the pledge requirement. Given former President Trump’s track record, we can expect him to travel down one (or more) of the following paths:
- Take the pledge, but then ignore it if he fails to earn the nomination.
- Refuse to engage in debates, claiming something along the lines of “why should I debate a bunch of losers?”
- Insist on being allowed in the debates without taking the pledge, claiming that the other candidates’ pledges can’t be trusted.
Of these, I find the first most compelling. Mr. Trump would view it as a no-lose proposition. If he finds himself in the position of having lost the nomination, he would care very little about whatever claims the RNC might make about the pledge. We would expect him to say something along the following lines: “The Republican Party has broken pledges to me many times. Why should I care about my pledge to them?”
Nor would we expect his loyal followers to care two hoots about their champion’s signature on a pledge. If we have learned nothing else over the past six years, we can at least be certain that his followers will take his word for whatever he wants to say, whenever he wants to say it, whether it happens to be true or false.
On the other hand, one wonders whether the RNC has a trick up its sleeve. What if, for example, the proposed pledge includes legally binding language, perhaps estimated money damages in the event of default? What if the pledge includes an agreement that the candidate will be subject to an injunction that will stop the candidate’s name from being added to any third-party ticket? We’ll see how this all plays out.
Estimates of the number of eventual Republican candidates now ranges around twelve. Let the games begin.