Front-runner says he’ll wait to see how he’s treated; GOP chairman defends nomination rules.
Republican front-runner Donald Trump on Sunday refused to rule out running as an independent, as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus sought to prevent the party from fracturing.
Trump, who signed the pledge to support the GOP nominee after initially declining to do so, recently has again suggested that his commitment is contingent on fair treatment by the party hierarchy. On Sunday, he left the door open to continuing his campaign as an independent. Asked by Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” about whether he would take that step, he said, “We’re going to have to see how I was treated. It’s very simple.”
On “Face the Nation” on CBS, Trump said he is being “discriminated against.” He pointed to Louisiana, where he won the Republican primary last month but will end up with fewer delegates because Sen. Ted Cruz managed to secure support from delegates released from their commitment to Marco Rubio after the Florida senator dropped out.
“When I win the state, I’m not supposed to get fewer delegates than somebody that got beaten,” Trump said, adding that the maneuver might be illegal. Told that Cruz was following the rules of the game, Trump said, “I don’t care about the game. I care about the people. And when you go in and win a state and then you don’t, you don’t get the delegates?”
Priebus, who appeared on all five Sunday news shows, sought to strike a balance between defending the rules and promoting party unity. On Fox, he noted that the loyalty pledge was a condition for access to the party’s voter information files.
“If a candidate isn’t willing to commit to the principles and values of our party, then they ought to just tell us,” he said. “But if they commit to it, then they should do it.”
At the same time, Priebus was careful not to accuse Trump or any other candidate of disloyalty. He characterized statements by the remaining contenders as “posturing” in an effort to gain “leverage” in the event of a contested convention.
“Even in regard to the other candidates’ comments, no one’s broken any pledge; no one’s broken their commitment to our party,” he said on CBS. “But at this point, it’s a bunch of talk.”
Priebus acknowledged that rules allowing the consideration only of candidates who have won a majority of delegates in eight states would not apply after the first ballot. If the convention continued through multiple ballots, it is possible delegates could turn to someone other than Trump and Cruz — the only candidates likely to meet that threshold — or even someone not in the race at all.
“It’s possible someone could be nominated who is not one of the three, but my position is, and I think it’s absolutely correct, that our nominee is likely to be one of three people running,” he said.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” however, Priebus rejected the idea that House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin could be the party’s savior.
“Even if something like that were even remotely possible, that candidate would actually have to have a floor operation and an actual campaign going on with the delegates to make something like that possible,” and Ryan does not want the job, Priebus said.
The much-talked about Rule 40, which includes the eight-state requirement, sprung from Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign to prevent votes on the convention floor for rival Ron Paul. Priebus said that rule can be changed before this summer’s convention, but he added on “Meet the Press” that delegates for Trump and Cruz have a common interest in limiting alternatives.
“Why would people want the rules of Romney’s delegates to apply to Trump and Cruz and (Gov. John) Kasich?” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
For his part, Kasich said on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that something “magical” will happen at the convention if no candidate arrives with a delegate majority. He touted himself as the only Republican who can beat Democrat Hillary Clinton
“It’s going to be so much fun,” he said. “Kids will spend less time focusing on Bieber and Kardashian and more time focusing on how we elect presidents. It will be so cool.”