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Monday, June 24, 2024

RNC Scraps Plan to Declare Trump as Nominee after He Requests ‘Old Fashioned’ Victory

'Who cares what the RNC says? We’ll let millions of Republican voters across the country decide who should be our party’s nominee, not a bunch of Washington insiders...'

(Headline USAThe Republican National Committee pulled a resolution to consider declaring Donald Trump the party’s “presumptive 2024 nominee” before he formally clinches the requisite number of delegates, a person familiar with the decision said Thursday.

News of the withdrawal came shortly after Trump posted on his Truth Social site that, while he “greatly” appreciated the notion, he felt, “for the sake of PARTY UNITY, that they should NOT go forward with this plan, but that I should do it the ‘Old Fashioned’ way, and finish the process off AT THE BALLOT BOX.”

The measure, according to a draft obtained Thursday by the Associated Press, had said it “declares President Trump as our presumptive 2024 nominee for the office of President of the United States and from this moment forward moves into full general-election mode welcoming supporters of all candidates as valued members of Team Trump 2024.”

The withdrawal was confirmed by a person familiar with the decision who was not authorized to publicly discuss the proposal and spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday night.

If approved, the measure would have further solidified Trump’s standing as the de-facto party leader and given him more control over its operation at a time when Trump’s former United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, is still competing against him for the GOP nomination.

With an estimated 70% of Haley’s support coming from non-Republicans in the New Hampshire primary and much of her financial support coming from Democrat donors, Trump undoubtedly sees her ongoing presence in the race as less of a threat than an opportunity.

Meanwhile, there is little use in focusing on the general election race and expending resources with Democrats continuing to push the dubious claim that they are planning to double down on incumbent President Joe Biden, who already has proven himself to be unfit for the job in a variety of ways. Many are speculating that former first lady Michelle Obama will eventually enter the race.

As for the RNC, it may be eager to bring Trump into the fold for its own reasons as Republican donors are far more likely to support the embattled organization with his blessing and endorsement.

Trump boycotted all of the RNC debates after it required him to submit to unfavorable terms—a move that proved to be strategically shrewd on his part as he was, despite his absence, frequently declared the debate winner, with the other candidates acrimoniously bickering among themselves in a brawl for second-place.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel had earlier signaled her approval for the resolution. On Tuesday, after Haley finished second to Trump in New Hampshire, McDaniel said that while she felt the former ambassador had “run a great campaign,” Republicans “need to unite around our eventual nominee, which is going to be Donald Trump.”

The resolution had been expected to be discussed at the RNC’s winter meeting in Las Vegas next week.

Haley’s camp said Thursday that it wasn’t up to the RNC to decide who the GOP nominee would be.

“Who cares what the RNC says? We’ll let millions of Republican voters across the country decide who should be our party’s nominee, not a bunch of Washington insiders,” said campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez–Cubas.

Despite losing both the Iowa and New Hampshire contests to Trump, Haley has argued that her performance—outlasting all the other Trump rivals—shows the strength of her candidacy.

There was precedent, however, for the committee to declare a candidate the presumptive nominee before winning the 1,215 requisite delegates to clinch the nomination. Then-RNC Chair Reince Priebus did so with Trump in May 2016.

Trump currently has 32 delegates to Haley’s 17. There is one delegate left to be assigned after the New Hampshire contest.

During a rally Wednesday night in her home state of South Carolina, Haley—the former governor—noted that her campaign had brought in more than $1 million since her second-place finish in New Hampshire.

Trump followed up with a remark that appeared aimed at intimidating her donors—or perhaps at baiting her NeverTrump allies to squander even more of their resources on her.

“Anybody that makes a ‘Contribution’ to Birdbrain, from this moment forth, will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp,” Trump wrote, using the nickname he has crafted for Haley. “We don’t want them, and will not accept them, because we Put America First, and ALWAYS WILL!”

Haley’s campaign raised an additional $1.2 million “after Trump’s unhinged pledge to ‘permanently bar’ any individual who contributed to Haley’s campaign,” it said Thursday.

“Donald Trump’s threats highlight the stark choice in this election: personal vendettas or real conservative leadership,” said Haley spokesperson AnnMarie Graham–Barnes.

“Trump’s scheme blew up in his face,” she claimed. “The contributions to the Haley campaign are pouring in—proof that people are sick of the drama and are rallying behind Nikki’s vision for a strong and proud America.”

Trump’s dismissal of any Haley donors had no effect on T.J. Petrizzo, a former top Capitol Hill staffer and now lobbyist who supports Haley.

“That’s something out of a Godfather movie. Never betray the family? Come on,” he added. “You’ve got to play this through.”

Petrizzo said he understands that some Republicans may be ready to pivot to a head-to-head contest between Trump and the Democrat nominee, but he noted that there is a lot of time left before a general election.

“I’ve heard a lot of elected officials in the Republican Party, including the RNC chair, say, ‘We need to rally around a candidate.’ That this is going to be our candidate. ‘It was chosen by Iowa and New Hampshire, so we must go ahead and rally around Trump,’” Petrizzo said. “Well, there’s 285 days until the election. There’s plenty of time on the clock.”

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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