GOP Candidates May Break Loyalty Pledge If Nominee Is Trump

GOP presidential candidates made a pledge to support whoever wins the nomination. Now that Trump seems like the likely nominee, the candidates are walking back that promise. Donald Trump's response? He doesn't really need their endorsements anyways.

According to CNN, all three of the candidates -- John Kasich, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump -- have walked back the pledge.

Governor Kasich was arguably the most polite about taking back the GOP pledge, saying that "all of us shouldn't even have answered that question," back when they were pressed by party leaders.

Ted Cruz was vehement that he would not support Trump in any circumstance when talking to Anderson Cooper.

"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."
Strangely, Donald Trump has always been the candidate who seemed most at odds with the GOP loyalty pledge. According to ABC News, back in a debate on August 6th, the candidates were asked to raise their hands if they'd refuse to sign a paper promising to endorse the eventual nominee. Trump was alone in raising his hand. The audience booed him.

The reason was simple -- leverage, according to the candidate. If he ran as an independent, it would fracture the conservative vote. He said he understood this would give the Democrats an advantage, but otherwise only noted, "I can totally make that pledge if I'm the nominee."

Then, in September, Donald Trump signed the GOP pledge. His son posted this Tweet as proof.

He said at the time the only thing he received for signing was an assurance that'd he'd be treated fairly by the GOP. But that assurance didn't mean much, according to the businessman, and that's his reason for taking back the pledge too. He reportedly said, "I have been treated very unfairly."

As for the other candidates, they reaffirmed their commitment to the GOP pledge as late as March 3 during another debate.

But after the latest spate of attacks, that promise appears to be done, especially for Ted Cruz. When pressed about the issue a second time by Cooper, the senator from Texas said, "Let me tell you my solution to that: Donald is not going to be the GOP nominee."

Kasich did leave some opening, saying he'd wait "to see how this thing finishes out." He later added that, if the nominee is someone who is "really hurting the country," he couldn't stand by them, no matter what the GOP pledge said. It was likely a veiled reference to Trump. His full response is featured below.

As for Trump, he wouldn't want Cruz to do anything he "isn't comfortable with." The real estate mogul added that Cruz "doesn't need to support me, I have tremendous support right now from the people."

That claim is questionable, but his road to the nomination seems clear. He still leads in the polls of GOP primary voters by double digits against the second closest candidate, Ted Cruz, according to Real Clear Politics. Likewise, Trump has won 736 of the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination, far more than any other candidate (Cruz has 463).

Still, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, Donald Trump is the candidate least likely to defeat Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton in election simulations, based in part on his low popularity among the general voting population; over 60 percent of people have an unfavorable opinion him. Without the GOP pledge and the other candidates' support, his prospects in the general election become even worse.

Going back on a promise, especially a GOP loyalty pledge, would still most likely look bad for the politicians as well. There's one other possibility, but that could turn ugly really fast.

Despite his huge lead, there's a decent possibility Donald Trump would enter the RNC without the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. This could lead to a brokered convention, where there's a second round of voting, but if that didn't decide a nominee, the convention would become "contested."

In that situation, the pledged delegates would be freed from their previous commitments and could shift to another candidate. If Trump's delegates went to, say, John Kasich, then the governor would be the nominee. It could outrage voters, de-legitimize the nominee, and potentially cause riots, according to Trump, but then Ted Cruz and Kasich could follow through with the GOP pledge. In the end, candidates might just be more careful about signing pledges they receive from the GOP in the future.

[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]