Um, he backed out of the pledge himself in March. On live television.
Here’s a good example of the difficulty of deriving real meaning from the things Trump says, even when they’re straightforward. When he says pledge-breakers shouldn’t be “allowed” to run for office again, what does he mean? Charitably, he means the voters shouldn’t allow them to run, i.e. they should receive no popular support because they’re liars. Less charitably, President Trump would try to render them legally ineligible to run. I tend towards a middle-ground theory: Trump would like to render them ineligible but he has no idea if that’s feasible politically or legally so he’s just running it up the flagpole to see how it flies. It sounds good: Liars can’t run. We’ll worry about the constitutional nuts and bolts later.
How many former Republican candidates have broken their pledge, anyway? Offhand the only one I can think of who seems to be firmly #NeverTrump is Jeb Bush. Lindsey Graham may also be a goner but he’s sent signals the other way too. Ted Cruz and John Kasich haven’t endorsed Trump yet but neither one has ruled it out. They’re both in the “waiting and watching to see improvement” camp, as Paul Ryan was for about two minutes in May before he capitulated. You can understand why Trump would want to play up the extent of the betrayal, though: It’s a handy way potentially to explain his struggle to unite the party. If only Cruz hadn’t been such a sore loser, if only Kasich had been more of a team player, maybe Trump’s polls would be where they need to be. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio has gone to great pains — emphasis on “pains” — to say that he will in fact honor his pledge to support Trump despite their many differences, and all that seems to have achieved is newfound contempt for Marco even among some righties who backed him previously.
Exit question: It was always 50/50 on whether Cruz would play ball with Trump but did anyone expect Kasich to have held out this long? I thought he’d endorse within a week after leaving the race.