An aide for John Kasich said Monday the former 2016 GOP presidential candidate won’t be “bullied” by a Republican National Committee hint that failing to back Donald Trump will jeopardize another White House bid.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said Sunday that all of the GOP primary candidates, each of whom signed a pledge before the contest to support the winner, “need to get on board” with backing Trump, the Republican presidential nominee now in a tight race with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
“If they’re thinking they’re going to run again some day, I think that we’re going to evaluate … the nomination process,” Priebus said on CBS’ “Face the Nation. “And I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for them.”
The Kasich aide, John Weaver, suggested that the Ohio governor, who has publicly and at times bitterly criticized Trump on everything from foreign policy to his views on immigrants, has done America a great service by putting “principles before politics.”
“He won’t be bullied by a Kenosha political operative that is unable to stand up for core principals and beliefs,” Weaver said, referring to Priebus' Wisconsin hometown. “In fact, Reince should be thanking the governor for standing for an inclusive, conservative vision that can actually win a national election.”
He also suggested Priebus should be grateful for Kasich campaigning for other 2016 GOP candidates to avert a “national wipeout” on his watch.
Priebus didn’t name any of the roughly 16 major primary candidates -- with Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sens. Ted Cruz, Texas, and Marco Rubio, Florida, among the most prominent not to have endorsed Trump.
However, he suggested those who break the RNC pledge could be excluded from the 2020 GOP primary process because early-voting state South Carolina requires a similar pledge to get on the ballot.
“It’s not a threat,” Priebus said. “But we have a process in place.”
Kasich, the last candidate to quit the GOP primary, didn’t have the nasty, personal exchanges with Trump like Trump had with Bush, Rubio and Cruz.
However, Kasich remains strongly opposed to Trump, failing to appear on stage at the Republican National Convention this summer in his home state.
Cruz addressed the pledge issue in July, saying it was not “a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack [my wife], that I'm going to nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and say thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father.”
Kasich said in June on MSNBC that he was likely to break the pledge.
“You know, people even get divorces,” he said.
The two-paragraph RNC pledge begins: “I affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for the President of the United States, I will endorse the Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is."
And it concludes by stating losing candidates cannot re-enter the White House race with another party, as an independent candidate or as a write-in candidate.