Is The Donald getting serious, or is he trolling the RNC? Fox News reported last night that Donald Trump will meet with RNC chair Reince Priebus to “take the pledge” to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee, even if it’s not him. Greta van Susteren broke the news during her show last night, and asked the panel what this would mean for the race. Short answer: with Trump, who knows?
CNN also hears that Trump will take the pledge:
Donald Trump will meet with Republican National Commitee chairman Reince Priebus Thursday in New York City, one day after party officials began circulating a loyalty pledge that looked squarely aimed at the Republican front-runner.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed the meeting to CNN. Trump also announced that he will have a 2 p.m. news conference at Trump Towers Thursday.
According to sources familiar with the discussions, all signs indicate that Trump will sign a pledge to support the Republican nominee if he loses, and not run as an independent.
However, sources caution that until the meeting happens, no one can be sure exactly what the outcome will be, since Trump is his own adviser and has a history of being unpredictable.
So, to ask the question from Greta again … what’s a pledge worth? Do you get a pin to wear for the debate?
Eh, that’s probably not much of an incentive. The RNC does have carrots and sticks in this process, which are ballot access in the primaries and their collected data on voters. Any serious candidate for the nomination will need both, and Preibus doesn’t have to give it to someone who’s going to use it eventually to run against the GOP. It would cost a rogue candidate a fortune to do either on their own, especially in the short timeframe left in which to do it. Going alone on both ballot access and data against candidates who have it will put a candidate at a serious disadvantage when it comes time to hold primaries and perhaps especially caucuses, even someone with Trump’s personal wealth and resources.
This suggests that Trump’s taking this campaign seriously, perhaps more seriously than many thought and still think at the moment. Still, this cuts completely across his main draw. Voters flock to Trump because they’re angry at the Republican Party, which has won control of Congress and so far has seemingly done little with it. Locking himself into the GOP, and especially making agreements with its senior leadership, might well undermine that rogue quality which has thus far kept voters from caring too much about his history of left-of-center policy stands. It’s a risk for Trump, one that might just put him in the one category fatal to his populist aspirations: politician.
It’s a risk for Priebus, too, who will have to offer the RNC’s crown jewels to what might end up being a rogue prince. Given the mood among the base, Priebus can hardly risk shunning Trump, and will have to make do with a public pledge that has all the value and substance of “Trust me” in a business deal. Will a broken pledge matter to those flocking to Trump? Not now, certainly. It might when the primaries roll around and voters have to stop dating and finally marry a candidate, but that’s not a slam dunk either. Pinning a pledge on Trump will prove to be a very difficult act.