Republicans Try to Hold Party Together Amid Fractious Presidential Primary

Source: AP
Source: AP

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus blitzed the Sunday morning shows to urge his party's candidates to hold to their vow to support the eventual nominee.

It remains to be seen if they will.

Read more: Donald Trump Disavows Pledge to Support the Eventual Nominee (Unless It's Donald Trump)

"We expect that when candidates make commitments, that they keep them," Priebus told Fox News Sunday, according to Reuters.

Frontrunner Donald Trump, rival Ted Cruz and underdog John Kasich all previously pledged to support the GOP nominee who emerges from the party's July convention in Cleveland.

But in the run-up to Tuesday's primary in Wisconsin, all three candidates seemed to be distancing themselves from a promise to mend fences once a nominee has been chosen.

Priebus, who's focused on trying to keep the fabric of the GOP itself from tearing during a remarkably bitter primary that could lead to a contested convention, went all out during a sprint through five TV appearances Sunday.

The chairman noted on Fox that candidates who signed the pledge were entering into a contract that allowed them access to RNC resources like money and data for the general election battle.

"One of the things that we say is, 'Look, we'll give you these things. But you have to agree that you're going to support the party and the eventual nominee.' They've all agreed to that. And we'll see what happens," he said, according to the Washington Times.

As for why the three foes were hedging on the loyalty issue, Priebus chalked it up to politics.

"I really do believe this is positioning," he told Fox. "I think they want to be loyal to the party. I believe they will be loyal to the party."

Trump, for his part, said Sunday that he'll have to see how he's "treated" by the GOP before he commits to upholding his promise not to wage an independent campaign for the presidency if he doesn't get the GOP nomination.

"I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles for which it stands," the mogul-turned-politician had originally told reporters in Manhattan at a September news conference, holding up a signed contract.

Priebus called Trump's renewed open speculation about an outsider run unhelpful: "Those kinds of comments, I think, have consequences," the party boss said on ABC's This Week.

The dispute comes just days after Priebus and Trump met in Washington to discuss the state of the race.

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Celeste Katz

Celeste Katz is senior political correspondent at Mic, covering national politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at celeste@mic.com.

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