Joe Biden’s 2024 election campaign has lambasted former president and most likely Republican opponent Donald Trump for failing to sign a loyalty oath in the state of Illinois, in which candidates pledge against advocating for an overthrow of the government.
The Biden campaign was responding to an investigation by Illinois news outlets WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times, which reported that Trump sidestepped signing the McCarthy era voluntary pledge that is part of the midwestern state’s package of ballot-access paperwork submitted by 2024 electoral candidates last week.
That omission came days before the third anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, for which Trump has been indicted for his alleged role in efforts to overturn Biden’s 2020 election victory. It’s a departure from 2016 and 2020, when Trump signed the voluntary oath.
In a statement, Biden campaign spokesperson Michael Tyler, said: “For the entirety of our nation’s history, presidents have put their hand on the Bible and sworn to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States – and Donald Trump can’t bring himself to sign a piece of paper saying he won’t attempt a coup to overthrow our government … We know he’s deadly serious because three years ago today he tried and failed to do exactly that.”
In response, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung did not clarify why the Republican candidate had not signed the oath, but said: “President Trump will once again take the oath of office on January 20th, 2025, and will swear ‘to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The WBEZ/Chicago Sun-Times analysis of state election records found that Biden and Republican Florida governor Ron DeSantis both signed the oath. But some of Trump’s Republican opponents also did not sign, including Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, and Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor.
Under Illinois law, presidential candidates wanting to be on the state’s 19 March primary ballot were required to submit nominating petitions to the state board of elections on Thursday or Friday.
The so-called loyalty oath, which is part of the ballot-access process, is a remnant of the 1950s communist-bashing era of former US senator Joseph McCarthy. The tradition has been preserved by Illinois lawmakers despite being ruled unconstitutional by federal courts on free speech grounds.
In the first part of the oath, candidates swear they are not communists nor affiliated with communist groups. Candidates also confirm that they “do not directly or indirectly teach or advocate the overthrow of the government of the United States or of this state or any unlawful change in the form of the governments thereof by force or any unlawful means”.
It’s not clear why Trump did not sign the oath this time round, given that his eligibility to run is already being challenged on the rounds that he is allegedly disqualified by the 14th amendment of the constitution – which bars insurrectionists from seeking public office.
On Thursday – the same day Trump submitted his ballot paperwork – five Illinois voters filed a petition to remove him from the state’s Republican primary ballot, the Washington Post reported.
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