Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told members of his political party to get in line behind Trump or face the consequences after a number of prominent conservative lawmakers have defected from the candidate’s camp in recent months to either support the billionaire’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton or a third party candidate in a sign that the Republicans think they can win.
"Those people need to get on board," said Priebus during an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation. "And if they’re thinking they’re going to run again someday, I think that we’re going to evaluate the process – of nomination and I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for them."
The not so veiled threat follows in the wake of several prominent Republican opponents of Donald Trump, including Ohio Governor John Kasich, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush patently refusing to endorse the Republican nominee with Cruz even going so far as to hijack the Republican National Convention to speak about his own failed candidacy before telling people to "vote their conscience" to a chorus of raucous boos.
John Kasich, the latest defector, may be the real cause for concern for Republicans with polling showing Donald Trump leading in the must-win state by a six-point margin with every successful US presidential campaign securing the vital swing-state since 1952. Kasich this week said that he could not endorse Trump and then proceeded to herald US President Obama’s controversial TPP trade deal.
During the Republican primary contest all 17 candidates for President signed a "loyalty pledge" vowing to support the eventual Republican nominee, but a number of high-profile politicians reneged on their promise after it became clear that the former reality television star had stolen the show.
"People in our party are talking about what we’re going to do about [the loyalty pledge]. I mean there’s a ballot access issue in South Carolina. In order to be on the ballot in South Carolina, you actually have to pledge your support to the nominee, no matter who that person is," said Priebus. "So what’s the penalty for that? It’s not a threat, but that’s just the question that we have a process in place."
"And if a private entity puts forward a process and has agreement with the participants in that process, and those participants don’t follow through with the promises that they made in that process, what – what should a private party do about that if those same people come around in four or eight years?" asked Priebus rhetorically.
The Republican Chairman also smashed the media for repeating the refrain that Hillary Clinton was not involved in the racist birther conspiracy after new evidence came to light that her longtime advisor Sidney Blumenthal actually started the bigoted theory about President Barack Obama’s place of birth.
"People get convicted every single day with circumstantial evidence that is enough to – to tip the scale," said Priebus. "And by the preponderance of evidence before us, Hillary Clinton, or her campaign, were definitely involved in this [birther] issue. So we can’t keep saying it’s not true. That’s ridiculous."