The Republican National Committee has withdrawn a resolution to declare former president Donald Trump as the party’s nominee for the third election cycle in a row.
The withdrawal comes after Mr Trump took to Truth Social insisting that he wants to win the nomination the “old fashioned way” and not become the nominee before his last challenger – his former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley – has been beaten “at the ballot box”.
“While I greatly appreciate the Republican National Committee (RNC) wanting to make me their PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE, and while they have far more votes than necessary to do it, I feel, for the sake of PARTY UNITY, that they should NOT go forward with this plan, but that I should do it the ‘Old Fashioned’ way, and finish the process off AT THE BALLOT BOX. Thank you to the RNC for the Respect and Devotion you have shown me!”? he wrote on Truth Social on Thursday.
To win the Republican nomination, a candidate needs to garner 1,215 delegates. Mr Trump has so far gathered 32 to Ms Haley’s 17.
The resolution was set to be “taken up by the Resolutions Committee” to decide if it should be sent on “to be voted on by the 168 RNC members at our annual meeting next week,” Keith Schipper, an RNC spokesperson, told Axios before the resolution was withdrawn.
He noted that RNC chair Ronna McDaniel “doesn’t offer resolutions” and that the drafts are brought by RNC members.
The RNC moving to declare Mr Trump its nominee was initially reported by The Dispatch.
Olivia Perez-Cubas, a spokesperson for the Haley campaign, told Axios: “Who cares what the RNC says? We’ll let millions of Republican voters across the country decide who should be our party’s nominee, not a bunch of Washington insiders.”
Mr Trump won the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire and Ms Haley was the last remaining candidate taking him on for the nomination going into the Granite State contest. After losing by about 11 points in New Hampshire, she said the race was “far from over” even as Mr Trump is expected to win big in her home state of South Carolina on 24 February.
The former president is facing a litany of legal problems, having been charged with 91 counts across four indictments, for election interference and mishandling classified information, in addition to other allegations of wrongdoing. Mr Trump has attended court this week, as his second defamation trial brought by writer E Jean Carroll, whom a previous jury found Mr Trump liable for sexual abuse in the mid-1990s, continues in a Manhattan court.
Anthony Scaramucci, who lasted 10 days as White House communications director under Mr Trump, wrote on X early on Friday: “Trump had a very bad week and it’s about to get worse. He was told this week that independents and a large slice of Republicans will not vote for him under any circumstance. He is about to get roasted in a court case and his support is shrinking.”
Confidence is growing in some parts of the Democratic Party that Mr Trump may be able to win the GOP primary, but he’s unlikely to be able to beat President Joe Biden in November.
In New Hampshire on Tuesday, Ms Haley’s performance was strong among Republicans identifying as moderates, and in particular she did well with independents and other unaffiliated voters opting to cast a ballot in the GOP primary.
On MSNBC on Friday, Morning Joe host and former Florida GOP Rep Joe Scarborough criticised the Trump campaign’s unwillingness to take on Ms Haley in a head-to-head debate.
“Are Trump’s handlers keeping him away from the debate stage because they’re scared he’s going to go out and forget what decade this is, forget who he’s running against?” he asked.
Conservative lawyer and anti-Trump political commentator George Conway appeared on the network on Thursday morning, arguing that the Haley campaign “has to be as much a psychological operation against Donald Trump’s empty brain as it must be an attempt to persuade voters. Because the two go hand in hand”.