Trump refuses pledge to back Republican nominee

 August 10, 2023

Donald Trump has formally snubbed the RNC's pledge to back the eventual Republican nominee for president in 2024 - a signal that he will skip one or more primary debates. 

The Republican party is requiring all candidates to make the pledge in order to debate. But Trump said he can't honestly sign the pledge because there are some candidates he can't endorse.

“Why would I sign it?” Trump told Newsmax. “I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for president. So right there, there’s a problem.”

Trump snubs pledge

Trump has toyed with skipping the debates, citing his formidable lead in the polls.

His Republican rivals have called him a coward, but he told Newsmax's Eric Bolling, "It's not a question of guts. It’s a question of intelligence."

The former president questioned why he should share the stage with "nasty" candidates like Chris Christie, a vocal Trump critic who is far behind in the polls.

"You look at the debate, and they want you to debate, but you're debating — it's not really fair — somebody like Asa Hutchinson, who's polling at zero percent, will ask me nasty questions," Trump said. "Somebody like Chris Christie is falling at 1%, and he's going to ask me nasty questions and others, too."

Given the likelihood that Trump will be the nominee, Christie has also opposed the pledge, leaving it unclear whether he will appear at the debate.

Trump to announce next week

Christie has said he'll take the pledge "just as seriously as Donald Trump took the pledge in 2016," when Trump famously refused to back the eventual nominee.

The first debate this year is scheduled for August 23 in Milwaukee and is being moderated by Fox News. Trump accuses the network - which openly opposed him in 2016 - of favoring his closest rival Ron DeSantis this time around.

Trump's former vice president Mike Pence is the latest candidate to qualify for the debate, joining a crowd of eight contenders.

With classic Trumpian flair, the former president is leaving the country in suspense, saying he'll formally announce next week whether he's attending.

“I’d like to do it,” Trump said. “I’ve actually gotten very good marks on debating talents. But you want to be, you know, they want a smart president. They want somebody that’s going to be smart. So we have to do the smart thing.”

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