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Can the Romney wing and the Trump wing of the GOP come together to win in 2024?

Romney’s niece, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, makes a plea for unity, proposes loyalty pledge to GOP presidential candidates

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Reelected Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel holds a gavel while speaking on Jan. 27, 2023.

Reelected Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel holds a gavel while speaking at the committee’s winter meeting in Dana Point, Calif., Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.

Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

In her first interview since winning reelection as the Republican National Committee chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel addressed Sunday the potential of requiring 2024 GOP presidential candidates to sign a “loyalty” pledge to support whomever becomes the nominee in order to participate in Republican debates.

“I think it’s kind of a no-brainer,” McDaniel told CNN’s Dana Bash. “If you’re going to be on the Republican National Committee debate stage asking voters to support you, you should say, ‘I’m going to support the voters and who they choose as the nominee.’”

Although former President Donald Trump told 2016 GOP presidential primary debate audiences he wouldn’t commit to supporting his party’s nominee beforehand, McDaniel said he signed the pledge in 2016 and she expects him to sign the 2024 pledge in order to participate in the debates.

On the other hand, potential presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told The Washington Post last month, “Historically, our party has not taken party loyalty oaths,” he said. “For leaders such as myself who believe Donald Trump is not the right direction for the country — and I said specifically that Jan. 6 disqualified him — that would certainly make it a problem for me to give an across-the board inclusion pledge.”

Bash asked McDaniel, “How do you make candidates like (Hutchinson), given the reality of what has happened on Jan. 6, go against his principle?”

After saying that candidates should pledge to support the voters’ decision, McDaniel invoked a hypothetical: “Listen I say this all the time, Dana. I am Mitt Romney’s niece and I was appointed to the RNC by Donald Trump. And I would support both of them ... if they were the nominee of our party over Joe Biden.”

She then adds, “But I don’t know if they would support each other.”

McDaniel then encouraged all sides of the GOP party to come together. She said she attributes some 2022 midterm election losses to “Republicans refusing to support other Republicans.” And said, “Unless we fix this in our party, we will not win in 2024.”

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said last year he is not considering a 2024 run for president, adding, “I don’t think someone who is seen outside the Trump circle would have any realistic chance.”

He has not said who he voted for in the 2020 presidential election, but Romney did tell CNN he did not vote for Trump.

The Deseret News reached out to Romney for comment on McDaniel’s loyalty pledge proposal and plea for unity.

Romney’s press secretary, Arielle Mueller, declined to address the questions, saying instead, “Sen. Romney has made his views regarding former President Trump abundantly clear.”

She also pointed to comments Romney made on C-SPAN last December on the prospect of a Trump 2024 campaign.

“Would you support (Trump) if he’s the (2024 GOP) nominee,” the C-SPAN host asked Romney.

“Absolutely not,” Romney responded. “Look, I voted to remove him from office twice ... he’s simply not a person who ought to have the reigns of the government of the United States.”

Mueller also sent Romney’s February 2021 press statement on why he voted to impeach Trump again, suggesting he agrees with Hutchinson’s belief that the former president is disqualified to run for office again.

2024 GOP presidential candidates prepare for center stage

The RNC hasn’t announced all the criteria candidates will need to meet to take the debate stage. The first debate is scheduled for this August in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. McDaniel told Bash there will probably be a polling threshold, in addition to signing the pledge.

Trump was first to announce his third run for president, declaring his candidacy back in November shortly after the 2022 midterms. Last month, former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley launched her campaign, followed by entrepreneur and Fox News contributor Vivek Ramaswamy.

Other potential GOP presidential candidates include Hutchinson, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.