Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump handily won the South Carolina primary, but he may not be allowed to keep his share of the state’s delegates.
By breaking his GOP loyalty pledge, the business mogul violated the Palmetto State’s primary rules.
In September 2015, Trump signed the Republican loyalty pledge with great fanfare. Holding a press conference at Trump Tower, the business mogul signed a document vowing to support whoever became the GOP nominee.
That all evaporated on Mar. 29, when Trump flatly renounced the pledge during a CNN-hosted town hall.
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When asked if he would still support whoever became the Republican nominee, Trump answered “No, I don’t anymore.”
Explaining why he would violate a signed pledge, the GOP front-runner said that he had “been treated very unfairly” by the Republican establishment. He added that his remaining rivals in the primary had all but renounced the pledge as well.
This is not correct. While Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio had signaled their faltering commitment to supporting Trump as the nominee, neither gave definitive confirmation.
“I'm not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and my family,” Cruz told Anderson Cooper at the CNN town hall.
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Meanwhile, Kasich said: “I’ve got to see what happens. If the nominee is somebody that I think is really hurting the country and dividing the country, I cant stand behind him."
Trump, on the other hand, unambiguously violated the pledge. The Republican primary in South Carolina required all candidates to commit to the loyalty pledge to compete on the ballot for decades. Trump is at risk of losing the 50 delegates he gained from the state.
The South Carolina Republican Party chairman Matt Moore signaled that the business mogul had committed foul, telling TIME that “it could put delegates in jeopardy.”
Trump needs all of the delegates he can get to reach the 1,237 necessary to clinch the GOP nomination, according to Reuters. Otherwise, he will have to compete in a contested convention ran by an establishment that is hostile towards his campaign.
This disharmony, coupled with controversial statements and the arrest of his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, may have prompted Trump to meet with the establishment to mend bridges.
On Mar. 31, the GOP front-runner met with the Republican National Convention chairman Reince Priebus to discuss party unity, Reuters reports.
“Looking forward to bringing the party together,” Trump tweeted after the meeting. “And it will happen!”