READER POLL: Should Trump’s Backtracking on GOP Loyalty Pledge Cost Him Delegates in South Carolina?
More delegate woes plague Trump’s campaign
In a CNN town hall Tuesday, Donald Trump disavowed the Republican loyalty pledge he signed in September.
Trump’s change of tune might cost him the 50 delegates he won in South Carolina.
Zeke Miller reported for TIME:
The Palmetto State was one of several that required candidates to pledge their loyalty to the party’s eventual nominee in order to secure a slot on the primary ballot. Though Trump won all of the state’s delegates in the Feb. 20 primary, anti-Trump forces are plotting to contest their binding to Trump because of his threat on the pledge Tuesday.
The loyalty pledge is nothing new in South Carolina, where it has been required for decades, but took on new focus in light of Trump’s public musings about a third party run or withdrawing his support from the eventual nominee if he is stopped at a contested convention.
South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore gave credence to the anti-Trump claims.
“Breaking South Carolina’s presidential primary ballot pledge raises some unanswered legal questions that no one person can answer,” he told TIME. “However, a court or national convention Committee on Contests could resolve them. It could put delegates in jeopardy.”
When Trump filed for the ballot in South Carolina he signed a pledge stating to “hereby affirm that I generally believe in and intend to support the nominees and platform of the Republican Party in the November 8, 2016 general election.”
South Carolina has yet to select delegates to the convention and it is a state where Trump may already be on the defensive with delegates. South Carolina delegates to the national convention must have been delegates or alternates to the state’s 2015 GOP convention, a requirement that benefits candidates who appeal to the establishment.
Those delegates would be bound to Trump on the first ballot according to state and RNC rules. The challenge, which could only be filed once delegates are selected, would seek to allow them to be free-agents on the first ballot, thereby keeping Trump further from the key 1,237 figure he needs to secure the nomination. Similar challenges could also be filed in other states that added loyalty pledges.
In the same town hall, Kasich and Cruz both danced around the “support the nominee” question, but neither said with certitude they would not support the nominee. Only Trump said as much.
Kasich answered, “all of us shouldn’t even have answered that question.” While Cruz said, “I’m not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and my family… I think nominating Donald Trump would be an absolute trainwreck, I think it would hand the general election to Hillary Clinton.”
Trump is already concerned about losing delegates in Missouri and Louisiana and has threatened legal action. Trump supporters contend there’s a concerted effort to “steal” the election from Trump, but as I explained earlier this week, this appears to be the difference between a campaign that understands how delegate selection and state parties work and and a campaign that does not:
Conspiracy? Hardly. Simply a product of Cruz’s solid campaign ground game who’s done their due diligence with state party officials. Trump’s outsider appeal has successfully brought many previously non-politically active citizens into the fold, but his campaign infrastructure never created a mechanism to educate the newbies.
But we want to hear from you. If Trump loses delegates in South Carolina, is he getting the short end of the stick or are these the rules of the game?
Poll closes midnight Pacific Time Friday night, April 1:
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