As of right now, Donald Trump’s participation in the upcoming Republican debate on August 23 in Milwaukee is in doubt because he is refusing to sign a loyalty pledge affirming that he would support the eventual nominee.
“I affirm that if I do not win the 2024 Republican nomination of President of the United States, I will honor the will of the primary voters and support the nominee in order to save our country and beat Joe Biden,” the pledge reads. “I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”
As the frontrunner, Trump had no problems qualifying for the first debate based on polling and donors, but participation in the debate requires signing the pledge.
“Why would I sign it?” he asked. “I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for president. So right there, there’s a problem.”
For months, he’s been boasting about his huge lead in the GOP primary polls. By any standard, he’s the runaway frontrunner and heavily favored to win the GOP nomination. Signing the pledge would essentially be an empty gesture on his part because his lead is so large at this point that he has little to be afraid of.
Who are the three or four people he wouldn’t support? Trump didn’t say, but it’s safe to say that Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson, Mike Pence, and Doug Burgum are likely candidates. Frankly, there are a few more who have been highly critical of Trump.
But none of them are even remotely contenders for the nomination. As far as the loyalty pledge is concerned, there are really only two likely potential GOP nominees for president in 2024: Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis.
Trump could sign the pledge and still not participate in the debate if he didn’t want to. I think he still should, but his failure to sign the pledge concerns me more than whether he’ll participate in the first debates. Why? Because given the fact that DeSantis is likely the only other potential contender for the nomination, Trump is signaling that he knows that despite his current lead in the polls, he doesn’t have the nomination locked up, and he doesn’t want to be bound by any pledge to support the nominee if it’s not himself.
This is concerning because, in the event that DeSantis makes a comeback and manages to secure the nomination, Donald Trump’s support will be critical to galvanizing support behind him for the general election. We’ve already seen how Trump’s dismissive attitude about Georgia’s election in 2021 made us lose two Senate seats. If Trump doesn’t win the nomination and doesn’t support a different GOP candidate in 2024, his most die-hard supporters will sit out the election, if for no reason than to “prove” that Trump was the only candidate who could beat Biden.
Would Trump sacrifice our country to placate his own ego? Has he given you any reason to believe he wouldn’t?