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Draft RNC resolution would slow the party’s embrace of Trump as the nominee

In World
February 25, 2024

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A prominent Republican National Committee member is proposing two resolutions that would put some distance between the national party and former President Donald Trump — at least for a little bit longer.

The first resolution from Henry Barbour — a longtime member from Mississippi — would prohibit the national party from coordinating with Trump or fundraising with his campaign until he wins enough delegates to be the party’s presumptive nominee.

The draft resolution, in part, states: “The Republican National Committee and its leadership will stay neutral throughout the Presidential primary and not take on additional staff from any of the active Presidential campaigns until a nominee is clearly determined by reaching 1,215 delegates.”

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Although Trump has won all of the Republican Party’s primaries and caucuses so far, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has insisted that she plans to stay in the race awhile longer.

Trump has already proposed that his current campaign co-manager, Chris LaCivita, take the reins of the RNC as its chief operating officer. This proposed resolution, if passed by the RNC’s 168-member body, would slow down the process of Trump’s team effectively taking over the RNC.

Unlike the Biden campaign and the DNC, the Trump campaign and the RNC have yet to launch a joint fundraising committee, which allows the two entities to better coordinate and advance mutual financial interests.

The Trump campaign released a statement Saturday expressing its disapproval of Barbour’s measure.

“The primary is over and it is the RNC’s sole responsibility to defeat Joe Biden and win back the White House,” LaCivita said. “Efforts to delay that assist Joe Biden in the destruction of our nation. Republicans cannot stand on the sidelines and allow this to happen.”

Late last month, another RNC member had floated a resolution to declare Trump the party’s “presumptive” nominee. After some controversy — and Trump himself weighing in on social media that the RNC should not adopt it — the member withdrew it.

Barbour is also proposing a second resolution that would bar the RNC from paying Trump’s legal bills. If passed, it would declare: “The Republican National Committee will not pay the legal bills of any of our candidates for any federal or state office, but will focus our spending on efforts directly related to the 2024 election cycle.”

Before a campaign rally for Trump on Friday, LaCivita also committed that the RNC would not pay for Trump’s legal-related expenses when the campaign and the RNC merge their efforts.

“No,” LaCivita responded repeatedly when asked about the potential use of funds.

“We brought forth these two resolutions to make sure there is a serious discussion about protecting the primary process while there are still two candidates competing and preventing the RNC from paying the legal bills of any political candidate unrelated to the election cycle,” Barbour said in a statement to NBC News on Saturday.

The RNC’s members will convene in Houston on March 7 and 8 and could potentially vote on the pair of resolutions at that time.

It is also unclear when, or if, Ronna McDaniel will resign from her post as chairwoman. In early February, Trump called for her to be replaced by Michael Whatley, a RNC member from North Carolina, but it is up to McDaniel to resign — or for the RNC members to remove her from her position.

Whatley traveled with Trump aboard his plane from South Carolina to Washington, D.C., for the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, according to a source familiar with his travels.

The RNC members could also vote on new party leadership in Houston.

But there’s a further potential complication facing Trump allies to take over the RNC: If McDaniel resigns, Trump-endorsed Whatley could face a challenge by current RNC co-chair Drew McKissick for the party’s top spot.

When asked repeatedly by NBC News in an interview on Saturday whether he would rule out his own bid for the chairmanship, McKissick declined to explicitly take such an effort off the table, though he acknowledged that whoever the Republican Party’s presidential nominee will be has a “big say” in the matter.

“I’m with the team when it comes to this,” McKissick said. “This is all about putting together who’s going to be in the best slot to do whatever we need to do to win, and the nominee has a big say in that.”

McKissick has already reached out to other RNC members to gauge their interest in supporting him for the RNC chair position. One year ago, McKissick handily bested Whatley — who also had Trump’s endorsement then — in the RNC vote to serve as the party’s co-chair.

McKissick declined to say whether he’d endorse Whatley’s bid for RNC chair, instead calling the North Carolina Republican “a good friend” and embracing Trump’s role in ultimately determining RNC leadership.

“When you get to putting together a team for a presidential campaign and the RNC, after you’ve got a nominee, things merge. After you’ve got a presumptive nominee, things begin to merge,” McKissick said. “So that comes down to leadership.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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