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Republican Candidates No Longer Willing To Say They’ll Support GOP Nominee In The Fall

Donald Trump Ted Cruz John Kasich

The acrimony of the Republican candidates for Presidents became even more apparent last night during a CNN Town Hall event when none of the three remaining candidates said they would definitely support the eventual Republican nominee for President:

JANESVILLE, Wis. — None of the three remaining Republican presidential candidates would guarantee Tuesday night that they would support the eventual GOP nominee for president, departing from previous vows to do so and injecting new turmoil into an already-tumultuous contest.

Mogul Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich were each given a chance during a CNN town hall in Milwaukee to definitively state they would support the nominee. All three declined to renew their pledge. As recently as March 3, in a Fox News debate, all three said they would support the nominee.

“No, I don’t anymore,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, when asked if he remains committed to the pledge. Trump said that he would instead wait to see who emerges as the nominee before promising his support, recanting the pledge he previously signed with the Republican Party.

“I have been treated very unfairly,” Trump added.

Trump and his team have braced for the possibility of a contested convention in recent weeks, as opposing forces have set their sights on denying him the nomination by preventing him from crossing the necessary delegate threshold.

Trump said Tuesday that he believes establishment Republicans and the Republican National Committee in particular have not treated him with respect.

“I’m the front-runner by a lot. I’m beating Ted Cruz by millions of votes,” he said. “This was not going to happen with the Republican Party. People who have never voted before, Democrats and independents are pouring in and voting for me.”

Cruz was asked three times by Cooper whether he would support the nominee.

“I’m not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and attacks my family,” Cruz said, making reference to Trump.

When Cooper followed up, Cruz replied: “Let me tell you my solution to that: Donald is not going to be the GOP nominee.”

Cooper pressed him a third time. Cruz responded: ”I gave you my answer.”

Kasich said he would have to “see what happens” in the race before he could answer the question.

This question goes back to an issue that was among the first questions asked at the very first Republican debate back in August. At that time, Donald Trump was the only candidate running who refused to say that he would support the eventual nominee, a story that made news in no small part because there had been speculation about Trump running as an independent, or under the banner of a third party, virtually from the moment that he entered the race. The fact that Trump refused to definitively state that he would support the party’s nominee, therefore, seemed to reinforce the idea that he could eventually bolt the GOP for an independent bid that would threaten to cost the GOP the White House. Because of this, several state party leaders began to threaten to block Trump from the ballot for their state’s primary unless he pledged to support the party nominee. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus eventually responded to all of this by circulating a pledge for each of the candidates to sign, which Trump eventually did in a typically self-promoting press conference at Trump Tower. Ted Cruz and John Kasich signed the same pledge.

Both The New York Times and Politico are emphasizing Trump apparently departing from “the pledge” as the basis of their reports on the comments that were made last night, with both barely mentioning the fact that Ted Cruz and John Kasich both said eventually the same thing that Trump did. In reality, of course, the story here is the extent to which the acrimony of the Presidential campaign has impacted the candidates themselves. These campaigns tend to get heated every four years, of course, but things have gotten especially acrimonious over the past week or so. It started last week with Ted Cruz and Donald Trump attacking each other in a dispute that ended up bringing their wives, Heidi Cruz and Melania Trump, into the mix as well and ended with accusations from the National Enquirer about Ted Cruz having affairs with as many as five women over some unspecified of time. Meanwhile, Republican insiders have openly been working to deny Trump a majority of delegates prior to the convention in the hope of denying him the nomination and many conservative activists are saying that there are no circumstances under which they would vote for Trump. If nothing else, all of this is a strong indication of just how divisive this race has become and how unlikely it is that there will be party unity after the nominee is eventually chosen no matter who that nominee ends up being.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    Well, can you blame them? Look at that bunch of fools….

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  2. J-Dub says:

    They won’t support the eventual Republican nominee? How does that make them any different than the majority of people in the US?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  3. Mark Ivey says:

    “I have been treated very unfairly,” Trump added.

    Go 3rd party old man, take 35% of the GOP base with you…

    :))))

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  4. Jen says:

    Meanwhile, Politico is reporting that all four early appointees to the Rules Committee for the convention feel that the 8 state threshold rule should be scrapped.

    This will be interesting to watch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  5. CSK says:

    @Mark Ivey:

    Trump might go third party, but where would the necessary ego ratification be? He may have deluded himself that he can win against Clinton, but he has no shot at all in a three-way race. Yes, he’d have the pleasure of being a spoiler, but would that be enough?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. Tony W says:

    @CSK: It would give him an ‘out’ – I doubt he really wants the day-to-day drudgery of the Oval Office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. HarvardLaw92 says:

    It’s like watching a plane crash in slow motion replay 😀

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  8. ibid says:

    Divisive?

    You ain’t seen nothing yet.

    Wait ’til the oligarchs push too hard.

    Any fool that can read U.S. history can see the power struggle ISN’T anything but a ruse. Nobody gives a rat’s a$$ about the voters. They don’t decide. So shut up and go away.
    Those families worked HARD, dammit,… and they were here first, anyway, back 2 or 3 centuries ago. So they have rights. More than you. And they’ll prove it.

    Then watch the push back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

  9. al-Ameda says:

    The knives are out …

    This 2016 Republican Party campaign is the best and most remarkable presidential campaign season since the Democratic Party campaign festivities of 1968. I hope that, as with the Democratic convention in 1968, the Republican convention is awash in anger and recrimination.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  10. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @ibid:

    :roll:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. Pete S says:

    @Tony W:

    Well, can you blame them? Look at that bunch of fools….

    It is just unfortunate that not one of those men are self-aware enough to realize that there are three awful candidates on stage. They each believe there are only two…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  12. Hal_10000 says:

    Trump won’t go third party. He won’t be able to get on the ballot due to sore loser laws. And he doesn’t have the money to finance it. He can, however, cause enough chaos to make sure Clinton is elected. Which is probably the point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Tillman says:

    Geez, Cruz. I thought you gave your word. If you can’t support your principles when things get ugly, does it matter that you support them at all?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Except that the rest of us can’t get far enough from the crash site to be unaffected.

    @Pete S: But look at the bright side. They’ve winnowed it down from 17 awful candidates.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08:

    They’ve winnowed it down from 17 awful candidates.

    That sounds like an improvement but from what I can see it’s gotten far worse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. JKB says:

    Trump wins, at least among the three. Trump is the only one with cause to withdraw his pledge since so many Republican party insiders have stated they would not support him if he were the nominee. Party support for the nominee regardless was implied, although not stated in the earlier pledge.

    On the other hand, Cruz and Kasich end up being shown to have sided with those willing to pull shenanigans rather than listen to the primary voters.

    Meanwhile, on the Democrat side, Hillary got killed out west. Will those voters fall in line come the general or will they stay home?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  17. Pete S says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Its like the awfulness has concentrated in the remaining candidates as people have dropped out, instead of going away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. al-Ameda says:

    @JKB:

    Meanwhile, on the Democrat side, Hillary got killed out west. Will those voters fall in line come the general or will they stay home?

    (1) Arizona? Low population state,
    (2) Nevada? Low population caucus state
    (3) Washington? Caucus state.
    (4) Caucus states are dominated by activists, so a guy like Bernie has an advantage.
    (5) The real test comes in California, no phony little caucuses, a real vote – where Hillary is well ahead of Bernie.
    (6) Bernie’s supporters are proto-Republican fools if they don’t vote Democratic in the general.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  19. MBunge says:

    @al-Ameda: (1) Arizona? Low population state,
    (2) Nevada? Low population caucus state
    (3) Washington? Caucus state.
    (4) Caucus states are dominated by activists, so a guy like Bernie has an advantage.

    1. South Carolina? No chance a Democrat wins it in November.
    2. Alabama? Ditto.
    3. Texas? Ditto.
    4. Georgia? Ditto.
    5. Louisiana? Ditto.
    6. Mississippi? Ditto.
    7. Missouri? Ditto.
    8 Hillary is winning states in the primary she has no shot of winning when it counts.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  20. Mikey says:

    @MBunge: One could easily make a similar list of states where Trump has won primaries but has zero chance in the general.

    It’s not for nothing American Presidential elections generally come down to a handful of states. There’s really no actual competition in about 45 of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @MBunge: Which matters how?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. Moosebreath says:

    @MBunge:

    “Hillary is winning states in the primary she has no shot of winning when it counts.”

    For definitions of “no shot of winning when it counts” which excludes Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, etc. Which means she has won many blue and purple states already.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. Jen says:

    This “Hillary won primaries in states that Republicans will win in November” thing has no real logic. Primaries/caucuses and general elections are two different animals entirely. Turnout in primaries has no bearing on general election turnout. How candidates perform is also different.

    Trump and Sanders both won NH, big. But it doesn’t follow that NH, a purple state that is leaning bluer all the time, would then go to Trump automatically. There are so many other factors to consider: how has the race changed the candidates? Are there state issues that could affect turnout–both numbers and who turns out to vote? What about other high-profile races in the state, how are they looking?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. James Pearce says:

    @MBunge:

    No chance a Democrat wins it in November.

    With Donald Trump as the nominee, I think we’ll need to throw out the old assumptions. We can talk about Romney taking the same states as McCain or Bush because they were so similar.

    Trump’s like none of those guys.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  25. al-Ameda says:

    @MBunge:
    I have a fair amount of contempt for those states that determine preferred party nominees through caucuses (and not by way of an statewide vote) because it give the advantage to activist candidates – it creates a lot of distortion. Iowa is a first-up disgrace.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Monala says:

    @ibid:

    Those families worked HARD, dammit,… and they were here first, anyway, back 2 or 3 centuries ago. So they have rights. More than you. And they’ll prove it.

    Who the heck are you talking about? Who is the “they” and the “you” in this comment? The only “They” I can think of who makes sense is Native Americans – and they aren’t Trump supporters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. An Interested Party says:

    Hmmm…I bet there will plenty of people at the Democratic Convention who will give lovely descriptions of what happened at the Republican Convention the previous week…maybe somebody will make a gag reel or a bloopers tape….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Tony W says:

    @An Interested Party: I have heard that Clint Eastwood is polishing up his empty chair for a sequel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0