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Trump says he won't sign the loyalty pledge required for first GOP debate

The pledge includes a clause saying that the candidate will support the eventual GOP nominee.
A Georgia prosecutor is expected to seek a grand jury indictment in the coming weeks in her investigation into efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the former president’s 2020 election loss.
Former President Donald Trump in Philadelphia on June 30.Matt Rourke / AP file

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that he would not sign a loyalty pledge required by the Republican National Committee for participation in the first GOP debate this month.

During a Newsmax interview, Trump said that he took issue with a particular clause of the pledge that says the candidate will support the eventual GOP nominee.

“I wouldn’t sign the pledge,” Trump told host Eric Bolling. “They want you to sign a pledge, but I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for president. So right there there’s a problem."

Trump declined to name the candidates he wouldn't support, but criticized both former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie whom he said would both "ask me nasty questions." The two former governors have been sharp critics of Trump, the GOP front runner in the polls.

During the interview, Trump also said he would announce next week whether he will participate in the Aug. 23 debate in Milwaukee, though a refusal to sign the loyalty pledge would make him ineligible under the RNC's criteria.

The loyalty pledge also asks candidates to agree not to participate in any non-RNC sanctioned debate for the remainder of the election cycle. The RNC has asked that qualified candidates present their pledge and agreement no later than 48 hours before the first debate.

Trump, Christie and Hutchinson are among at least eight candidates who appear to have met the donor and polling thresholds required to participate in the debates. Former Vice President Mike Pence was the latest candidate to announce he had qualified for the debate, which will be hosted by Fox News.

NBC News reported in June that Trump was exploring potential counterprogramming during the first debate, according to people familiar with his deliberations.

“I'd like to do it. I’ve actually gotten very good marks on debating talents,” Trump said on Wednesday. “They want a smart president. They want somebody that’s going to be smart.”