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RNC To Require Loyalty Pledge

RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel (who is also skipping CPAC this weekend, by the way) said she was thinking about this. And now she's decided: Any Republican presidential candidate who wants to participate in primary debates must agree to sign a pledge that says that they will promise to support the Party's eventual nominee, whoever that might be.

Readers hardly need us to point out how stupid this is, at least on its face. The first problem is that some Republican contenders, most obviously Donald Trump, might well be happy to have an excuse to skip debating. The second problem is that the pledge is utterly unenforceable. The RNC can't exactly go to court and say "[Candidate X] crossed his heart, hope to die, that he/she wouldn't be a meanie if they lost. No takesies-backsies!" Heck, because there is no requirement for membership in the Republican Party (in contrast to many European political parties), the RNC can't even drum a pledge violator out of the GOP.

Since McDaniel is not stupid, we've been trying to figure out what is going on here. We've go three theories:

  1. She is delusional: The obvious risk for the Republicans in 2024 is that Trump loses the nomination and then turns into a petulant brat, like he did in 2020 (very possibly costing the party one or two Senate seats in Georgia). It could be that McDaniel really thinks that Trump wants to debate, and that he will abide by any promises he makes in order to get onto the debate stage. To think that would be pretty wild, but McDaniel went on CNN and tried to sell it with a straight face. So... maybe.

  2. She is in CYA mode: McDaniel can quite clearly see that the RMS DeSantis and the iceberg named Trump are headed for a massive collision, and that the aftermath is not going to be pretty. Something like this will at least allow her to say: "Hey! I did everything I could!"

  3. This is aimed at Ron DeSantis: Trump has no shame, nor does he need to worry about RNC support in 2028. By virtue of his age and this being his third straight attempt at the White House, this is surely his last rodeo. But DeSantis is much younger and could well be a contender in the presidential cycle after this one. McDaniel might suspect that Trump is going to be the nominee, and might want to make sure the Governor screws a smile on his face and stays on board with Team GOP. This is probably not necessary, because the Governor's not a fool and is not likely to shoot himself in the foot, "be nice" pledge or not. But "I need to proactively rein DeSantis in" is a much more realistic agenda item than "I can totally rein Trump in."

That's what we've got; if readers have alternative theories, we are interested to hear them. (Z)

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