Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Thursday that she has a “feeling” former President Trump will sign the party’s loyalty pledge if he decides to participate in next week’s primary debate.
“He’s signed the pledge before. He signed it to get on the South Carolina ballot,” McDaniel told NewsNation’s Blake Burman on “The Hill.” “I have a feeling if he wants to be on the debate stage, he’s going to sign that pledge.”
McDaniel emphasized that the RNC is calling the pledge “the Beat Biden pledge” and that whoever is on stage making their case should “support the will of the voters to do what is most important to every Republican in this country, which is beating Joe Biden.”
“That’s the rule,” she added. “The rules are the rules.”
The chairwoman’s comments come as Trump has yet to announce a decision on whether or not he will attend next week’s Republican primary debate in Milwaukee. However, the former president has said he will not sign the pledge, which is a requirement for being on the stage.
That dynamic has put the RNC in a difficult situation in trying to appease Trump, who is major ratings draw and the clear front-runner for the GOP nomination, while maintaining the party’s authority and treating all of the candidates equally.
McDaniel said Thursday she has not received a definitive yes or no on whether Trump will attend next week, adding, “If he told me, he could still change his mind.”
So far, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott have signed the pledge. Former Vice President Mike Pence has said he will also sign it.
This isn’t the first time Trump has kept the party guessing on whether he will sign the pledge.
In August 2015, then-candidate Trump was the only candidate on stage at the first GOP debate to not raise his hand to show that he would support the eventual nominee in the 2016 primary.
During that primary, 17 Republicans competed for the nomination. Trump ended up signing a loyalty pledge in September 2015 but by March 2016 said he was no longer sticking with the pledge. By then, he was one of only three candidates running on the GOP side.
Other candidates have also bucked the pledge in the past. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) both signed the pledge when they ran in the 2016 GOP primary but did not end up supporting Trump in the general election.
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