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Amid Backlash, RNC Scraps Plan to Name Trump Presumptive GOP Nominee

Trump needs 1,215 delegates to become the presumptive nominee — so far, he has just 32.

Former President Donald Trump takes the stage during a campaign rally at the Rochester Opera House on January 21, 2024, in Rochester, New Hampshire.

On Thursday, a committee member for the Republican National Committee (RNC) submitted a draft proposal that sought to immediately name Donald Trump the presumptive GOP nominee for the 2024 presidential election, overturning current rules that only allow the distinction to be given to someone who wins enough delegates through primary races.

After the proposal was met with backlash, however, the draft document was withdrawn within hours of being made public.

The resolution would have allowed the RNC to declare at its upcoming meeting, scheduled for next week in Las Vegas, that Trump is the presumptive nominee for the party, after his winning just two statewide nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. While it’s highly unlikely that Trump will lose the nomination to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, it’s not impossible for things to change in the coming weeks. Haley is refusing to bow out of the race for the time being, though Trump clearly has the momentum in the nominating race so far.

Under current rules, a candidate for the GOP nomination has to obtain a majority of available delegates from state primary elections (at least 1,215 delegates) before they can be called the presumptive nominee. The distinction is important: it allows the RNC to begin working immediately with the candidate on their election campaign, and for that candidate to access data and other fundraising resources that the RNC has.

RNC committee member David Bossie, a loyalist to Trump, sought to change those rules to benefit the former president, submitting a proposal this week that read:

[T]he Republican National Committee hereby declares President Trump as our presumptive 2024 nominee for the office of President of the United States and from this moment forward moves into full general election mode welcoming supporters of all candidates as valued members of Team Trump 2024.

The Haley campaign criticized the submission of the resolution and called for a one-on-one debate between Trump and herself.

“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,” Haley campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a statement, adding that RNC chair Ronna McDaniel should “organize a debate in South Carolina, unless she’s also worried that Trump can’t handle being on the stage for 90 minutes with Nikki Haley.”

After facing more backlash to the proposal, Trump demanded on Truth Social that it be withdrawn, stating that he “greatly appreciate[d] the Republican National Committee (RNC) wanting to make me their PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE,” but that he wanted to win “the ‘Old Fashioned’ way.” Shortly after his message, Bossie withdrew the resolution.

While it may appear that Trump was reacting to an action that a rogue loyalist made on his behalf, a report from CNN, which cited sources with knowledge of what happened, indicated that the Trump campaign (and thus, likely Trump himself) had initially approved moving the resolution forward, only changing their minds when it appeared that there would be criticism from some in the GOP over altering the bylaws.

The drama unfolded just days after RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel expressed her own wishes for Haley to drop out of the race, an unusual move for the head of any major political party, as they typically do not express opinions on the primary races until the presumptive nominee is named.

“I’m looking at the math and the path going forward and I don’t see it for Nikki Haley,” McDaniel said on Fox News on Tuesday. “I think she’s run a great campaign, but I do think there is a message that’s coming out from the voters, which is very clear.”

Although Trump has momentum on his side, Haley still has a mathematical path forward. So far, after the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, Trump has 32 delegates and Haley has 17. A total of 2,225 delegates remain up for grabs, which means there is still technically a way for Haley to win.

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