MILWAUKEE, March 30, 2016 – The Republican Party is facing still more divisions, with the remaining GOP presidential candidates refusing to pledge their support to whomever eventually wins the nomination.
Last fall, Republican front-runner Donald Trump silenced questions about his loyalty to the party by publicly announcing he would support the eventual GOP candidate, even if he didn’t win the nomination. During one of the debates, Trump reiterated his statement, and added that he “saw no circumstances” where he would reverse course and tear up that pledge.
Now, however, Trump has changed his mind. During the CNN Townhall in Wisconsin, Donald Trump said he would no longer support whoever the GOP nominee is. He now says his support for the Republican party depends on who the party names as the nominee. He defended his decision to “tear up” his pledge saying he has been treated unfairly by the RNC, Republican party, and the establishment.
Both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have also refused to promise unconditional support for whoever wins the Repuiblican nomination. Ted Cruz has openly stated he will not support Trump for president, even if he wins the Republican nomination. Kasich, during the same CNN Townhall, also retreated from his previous promise, saying he should not have raised his hand during the first debate when the candidates were asked if they would back the eventual nominee.
These latest statements appear to deepen existing cracks within the Republican Party. Marco Rubio, who recently suspended his presidential campaign, announced he will not release his delegates because he wants to “stop Trump.” Trump and Cruz have been engaged in a new conflict that has extended to their wives, and there are renewed reports that both Trump and Rubio participated in spreading allegations about Cruz having extra-marital affairs.
Meanwhile, the remaining candidates are attempting to win over those Rubio delegats who are “unbound,” or not required to vote for him since he has halted his campaign. Trump is threatening to file a lawsuit if Cruz wins over the Rubio delegates in Louisiana, which would position Cruz to win a state where he originally lost to Trump.
There is no sign that the party is moving toward healing or uniting, making a brokered or contested convention increasingly likely. The divisions, and lack of support for a single candidate, are also raising the chances for a third party candidate, which will likely nullify all polling predictions and make for an even more interesting political season.