Donald Trump may have cost himself some delegates or, at the very least, created an unnecessary headache over delegates, with his denouncement of his previous pledge to support the eventual nominee of the Republican Party.
South Carolina requires a loyalty pledge to be on their ballot, you see. And now Trump has officially reneged, stating unequivocally in the CNN Town Hall on Tuesday that he does not vow to support the nominee. This is a big problem for the state of South Carolina, and for the fifty delegates Trump won there.
Let’s state the obvious: Trump never meant it in the first place. Anyone who believed him was fooling himself and others. He wanted to win in South Carolina and, in Trump fashion, simply promised whatever convenient promise would get that win for him. It’s his modus operandi. Unfortunately for him, in South Carolina, a promise is actually a promise, and that may cost him.
“Breaking South Carolina’s presidential primary ballot pledge raises some unanswered legal questions that no one person can answer,” he told TIME. “However, a court or national convention Committee on Contests could resolve them. It could put delegates in jeopardy.”
When Trump filed for the ballot in South Carolina he signed a pledge stating to “hereby affirm that I generally believe in and intend to support the nominees and platform of the Republican Party in the November 8, 2016 general election.”
The legal question has not been settled, of course, but there are delegates and members of the party who are raising it. What recourse they have and what action is taken is yet to be determined. But if the delegates are permitted, as they are requesting, to essentially be unassigned on the first ballot at the convention, it is a potentially yuge problem for The Donald. Because there is another rule in South Carolina that cuts against him: all the delegates to the national convention must have already been delegates or alternates at the party’s state convention last year. That means a crowd less likely to be your average Trump supporter, and far more likely to be someone in line with the state party.
Another point against Trump.
And just to be perfectly clear for Trump fans, this is not some new rule that was concocted in order to thwart him. South Carolina’s requirement of party loyalty has been part of their process for decades.
What’s even worse is that Cruz and Kasich operatives have been working South Carolina delegates for weeks ahead of a potential contested convention. So even if they are committed on the first ballot, it doesn’t look good for keeping them if he doesn’t snag it.
And guess what? South Carolina isn’t the only state with a pledge. So we could see other similar actions. South Carolina’s GOP is actively looking into what they can or should do. Stay tuned.