GOP's new idea to stop Trump: Make candidates pledge to support the nominee in order to qualify for the ballot

Dumb. You think Trump gives a crap about a pledge? He’d take the pledge, renounce it later, then laugh at what losers these Republican leaders are for ever believing that he’d keep his promise.

And his fans would cheer him on. “He outwitted the RINOs by making them think he’s a man of his word!”

The Virginia and North Carolina parties are in discussions about implementing a new requirement for candidates to qualify for their primary ballots: that they pledge to support the Republican presidential nominee — and not run as a third-party candidate — in the general election…

Any moves to tie Trump’s hands, though, could infuriate the mercurial billionaire, who has warned that he could bolt the party if GOP leaders treat him unfairly. On Tuesday morning, Roger Stone, a longtime former Trump strategist, wrote on Twitter that the state party effort would backfire. “The kind of thing that could make @realDonaldTrump bolt the GOP and run 3rd party or Indy,” he said…

“Ballot access usually is regarded as party function,” said Tom Josefiak, a former RNC chief counsel. “It definitely would be left up to the state party to decide how it’s going to operate.”

The South Carolina GOP requires a loyalty pledge to make the ballot. Trump has until September 30th to decide.

I understand why GOPers are jittery about Trump going third-party but that seems less likely to happen every day. In fact, if you’re a Trump-hater who’s groaning over his polling, there’s your silver lining — the better he does now, the more likely he is to commit himself to the Republican race and try to win the party’s nomination. And his odds of doing that are still much, much lower than the odds are that he’d successfully wreck the GOP’s chances in the general election as an indie. If your endgame here is Republican victory next fall, you’re better off trying to stop Trump in the primaries than having him as a loose cannon firing at the party from the outside. Building a formidable independent campaign that qualifies for the ballot in all 50 states will take lots of money, organization, and time. Trump has the first of those three but the second is questionable, and the longer he spends atop the GOP field, the less he’ll have of the third this winter to try to put together an indie bid if his lead among Republicans starts to collapse.

Besides, as Ken Cuccinelli noted to Politico, there are “sore loser laws” in some states that block candidates from running in the general election as an independent if they compete in a party primary and lose. Other states require candidates to register for the primary and general elections on the same day, effectively blocking a third-party switch later. There may be ways around those laws depending upon how much you want to spend on lawyers and how lucky you feel in court, but the safe play would be for Trump to decide whether to stick it out in the GOP race or abandon the party before the voting has even started. If his polling has collapsed before Iowa, he’ll be looking at blowing tens of millions of bucks on a third-party bid where all he can do is play spoiler, and if his polling hasn’t collapsed, he’ll have every reason to remain a Republican and take his chances with GOP voters. What would a ballot pledge do to stop him that those electoral laws don’t? Besides, if Trump wants to wreck the GOP nominee in the general, he doesn’t have to go to any bother involving registering as a candidate, spending money, stumping around the country, etc. He could simply quit the Republican race in due time and then spend next summer doing media hits urging his fans not to vote in the fall. “The best thing you can do now to make America great again,” he could say, “is to send a message to Republicans by staying home this year.” Same basic effect as a third-party candidacy without any of the hassle. Imagine how grateful President Hillary will be.

Here’s Glenn Beck being asked last night on CNN whether he’d vote for Trump as the Republican nominee. Hot Air alum Noah Rothman, a sharp Trump critic, makes a sharp point on a related note here: If you disdain Trump so much that you’d force him to take a loyalty oath, shouldn’t you, as a Republican, pledge to vote for him next fall if he’s the party’s nominee? If you want to reserve your right to boycott a Trump/Clinton election, maybe you shouldn’t demand vows of fealty from anyone else.