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Ronna McDaniel says Trump will sign pledge to support 2024 nominee

By Sarah May on
 February 27, 2023

As the 2024 presidential primary landscape continues to take shape, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel indicated that anyone who wishes to participate in the GOP's initial primary debate – including former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – will need to sign a pledge vowing to support the ultimate nominee, as Politico reports.

The revelation came during McDaniel's Sunday appearance on CNN's State of the Union with host Dana Bash.

Pledge a “no-brainer”

As Axios notes, the first Republican debate of the 2024 election cycle will take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in August, and though the ground rules have not yet been made public, McDaniel views the aforementioned support pledge – which was mandatory in 2016 – as something that should clearly be included this time around.

“We're saying you're not going to get on the debate stage unless you make this pledge,” McDaniel told Bash, adding that the rank and file in the party have had enough “infighting” and are eager for “us to come together.”

McDaniel further opined, “If you're going to be on the Republican National Committee debate stage asking voters to support you, you should say, I'm going to support the voters and who they chose as the nominee.”

At this stage in the game, only three Republicans – Trump, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy – have officially thrown their hats into the ring, but additional entrants are expected, a group that could potentially include former Vice President Mike Pence, DeSantis, and others.

Trump: “It depends”

Though he signed just such a pledge back in 2016, speculation is brewing as to whether Trump remains willing to take the same action in the upcoming cycle, particularly given the rhetorical punches he has already thrown at DeSantis as a potential rival for the GOP nod.

As Politico noted, Trump was recently asked by conservative radio personality Hugh Hewitt whether he intends to throw his weight behind the Republican general election candidate even it if it is not him, and the former president replied that it would depend on which individual ultimately came out on top.

McDaniel, for her part, seems to believe that in the end, the former commander in chief will comply with the requirement she seeks to impose, saying, “I think they all want to be on the debate stage. I think President Trump would like to be on the debate stage. That's what he likes to do. And I expect they will all be there.”

“I think the voters are very intent on winning. And they do not want to see a debate stage of people saying, 'I'm not going to support this guy.' What they need to say is, 'I'm going to do everything I can to defeat Joe Biden.' And that means supporting the nominee of the Republican Party,” McDaniel concluded.

DeSantis rising?

While still not formally in the 2024 race for the White House, DeSantis is making moves that suggest to many that he fully intends to challenge Trump's status as the presumptive Republican front runner.

Just last week, the Florida governor embarked on a multi-city pro-police listening tour in which he spoke directly with law enforcement officials in Democrat-led jurisdictions where they decry a lack of support needed to fulfill their public safety duties.

The events served as an opportunity for DeSantis to take the tough-on-crime message that has driven policy in his home state to a national audience he believes will be receptive to such an approach as well as to the results it has yielded in Florida.

Also this week, DeSantis is releasing a book entitled The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Survival, which chronicles his political journal and his vision for the nation and which the Washington Examiner posited could be “the opening act of a possible 2024 presidential run.”

Rancor persists

Based on rhetoric in which Trump has already engaged regarding DeSantis, however, McDaniel's optimism about Trump's amenability to signing her desired support pledge may prove somewhat premature.

Last month, Trump indicated his displeasure with the very notion that DeSantis would dare mount a challenge for the nomination in 2024, as The Hill noted at the time.

Taking aim at the governor's record during the COVID-19 pandemic and claiming credit for his meteoric rise on the political stage, Trump has even gone so far as to label his onetime ally “Ron DeSanctimonious

“So, now I hear [DeSantis] might want to run against me, so we'll handle that the way I handle things,” Trump said cryptically back in January, and whether that extends to using proposed debate rules as a strategic campaign tactic, only time will tell.