Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, had some veiled warnings for primary candidates who have gone back on their pledge. In an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation program on Sunday, Priebus said that Republicans like Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush might want to reconsider their stance on Donald Trump. That is, if they were thinking of ever running for president again.
“Those people need to get on board,” Priebus said. “And if they’re thinking they’re going to run again some day, I think that we’re going to evaluate the nomination process and I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for them.”
Priebus stopped short of naming names, but the warning may as well have been stamped with Cruz and Bush on the side. Oh, and perhaps a little left over for John Kasich, whose campaign team has already made public comments about a 2020 run.
“People in our party are talking about what we’re going to do about this,” Priebus said Sunday. “I mean, there’s a ballot access issue in South Carolina. In order to be on the ballot in South Carolina, you actually have to pledge your support to the nominee, no matter who that person is. So what’s the penalty for that? It’s not a threat, but that’s just the question that we have a process in place.”
Priebus said it wouldn’t be fair to let these candidates break the pledge without consequences.
“If a private entity puts forward a process and has agreement with the participants in that process, and those participants don’t follow through with the promises that they made in that process – what should a private party do about that if those same people come around in four or eight years?” he asked.
Jeb Bush has made it clear that he’s not going to support Trump, and Kasich and Cruz have pretty much said the same thing. Kasich recently said it was “extremely unlikely” that he would vote for Trump. Cruz has been silent on the election for the last couple of months, but his dramatic refusal to endorse Trump at the Republican National Convention seemingly closed that door for good. It’s not yet clear if any of the three will be running for president again, but the odds are pretty good, especially for Kasich and Cruz.
Whether or not they’ll be welcomed back under the RNC banner, however, remains to be seen.