Anti-Trump GOP presidential candidate struggles to justify signing RNC 'loyalty pledge'

Anti-Trump GOP presidential candidate struggles to justify signing RNC 'loyalty pledge'
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Image via NARA & DVIDS Public Archives.

Former Arkansas governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson was grilled by an MSNBC panel on Wednesday's edition of Deadline White House over an apparent contradiction between his opposition to ex-President Donald Trump and his having signed the Republican National Committee's "loyalty pledge" to support the eventual nominee.

"If you are not the Republican nominee, will you vote for Donald Trump as president?" host Nicolle Wallace asked Hutchinson,

"Well, I don't expect him to be the nominee, so I would expect to support the nominee of the party," Hutchinson replied.

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"He's ahead thirty points in the latest polls, so it's certainly a possibility," Wallace interjected.

"Well, I understand that and I'm sure that will come up with a debate stage, but of course if you believe that he's not qualified under our Constitution, the 14th Amendment, then he's not gonna even be in the picture," Hutchinson said.

"Well, I agree with you," Wallace responded. "Did you sign the pledge as a condition of being at the debate that you'll support the eventual nominee? I'm just trying to find the consistency with your stated positions. I admire some of them, but some of them don't add up."

Hutchinson stated, "You gotta think a little bit lawyerly here that I signed it saying I'm gonna support the nominee of the party. I do not believe that Donald Trump will be the nominee of the party, so I can feel comfortable in signing that pledge. Now you're asking me questions as to what's gonna happen down the road. I'm sticking with that statement. That gets me on the debate stage and it's important for me to be there in my voice and we'll see what the future holds after that."

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Former United States Congressman David Jolly (R-Florida) then joined the conversation and told Hutchinson that his answers made no sense after Wallace made an observation.

"I think we can both agree it's important for anti-Trump voices to be on that stage. Trump won't be, but it is also fair to ask questions about what the person is 30 points ahead would garner in terms of support from the other Republicans in the field," Wallace noted.

"I'm of the mindset there's no reason for Donald Trump politically to appear on the stage, and I think the governor and others can wrestle with questions whether or not there is value in addressing Donald Trump that night or addressing any other candidates on the stage," Jolly said. "I'm just, honestly, in real-time, I'm a bit taken aback. Governor, I don't understand what you just said, that you don't think he's qualified to be president and you don't support him. But you would support 'em. I apologize. I'm a bit of a pause. I don't understand what you just said."

Wallace offered Hutchinson "another stab at that."

Hutchinson explained, "I said on the pledge that I will support the nominee of the party. That's what I said. I could in good conscience sign that because I believe that I'll be the nominee of the party or somebody else on the stage Wednesday night. Donald Trump hasn't signed that. Donald Trump is not gonna participate in that. And so I expect the nominee of the party to be on that stage Wednesday night. You can accept that or reject it, but that's a basis of which I, in good conscience, can sign that pledge."

Jolly was unsatisfied with Hutchinson's reasoning.

"Yeah. If I may, if Donald Trump's name appears as a Republican nominee, whether you think he's qualified or not, are you going to vote for Donald Trump next November if he's the nominee of the Republican Party?" he pressed.

"Well, I don't expect him to be the nominee party. I'm not voting for Joseph Biden," Hutchinson declared.

Jolly pressed Hutchinson again: "That's not what I said, governor. Look, I support your spirit, but are you going to vote for Donald Trump as a Republican nominee if indeed he's on the ballot in Arkansas where you're registered to vote?"

Hutchinson reiterated, "And I hear you very clearly exactly what you're asking me, and I just gave you the answer that I am providing and signing that pledge based upon. You don't have to accept it. I just gave you the answer."

Watch the segment below or at this link.

MSNBC 08 21 2023 16 40

READ MORE: GOP governor: Debate candidates must 'attack Donald Trump' to ensure 'his path to victory shrinks'

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