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Republican National Committee pulls resolution declaring Trump as the ‘presumptive 2024 nominee’

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Republican National Committee has pulled a resolution to consider declaring Donald Trump the party’s “presumptive 2024 nominee” before he formally clinches the requisite number of delegates, a person familiar with the decision said Thursday.

News of the withdrawal came shortly after Trump posted on his Truth Social site that, while he “greatly” appreciated the notion, he felt, “for the sake of PARTY UNITY, that they should NOT go forward with this plan, but that I should do it the ‘Old Fashioned’ way, and finish the process off AT THE BALLOT BOX.”

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The measure, according to a draft obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, had said it “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 withdrawal was confirmed by a person familiar with the decision who was not authorized to publicly discuss the proposal and spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday night.

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If approved, the measure would have further solidified Trump’s control of the party and its operation at a time when former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is still competing against Trump for the GOP nomination.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel had earlier signaled her approval for the resolution. On Tuesday, after Haley finished second to Trump in New Hampshire, McDaniel said that while she felt the former ambassador had “run a great campaign,” Republicans “need to unite around our eventual nominee, which is going to be Donald Trump.”

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The resolution had been expected to be discussed at the RNC’s winter meeting in Las Vegas next week, even though only two states have voted and the former president had nowhere near the requisite number of delegates to secure the nomination.

Haley’s camp said Thursday that it wasn’t up to the RNC to decide who the GOP nominee would be.

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“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,” said campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas.

The AP has a policy to not refer to any candidate as the “presumptive nominee” until he or she has captured the number of delegates needed to win a majority vote at the national party conventions this summer. The earliest that could happen is March.

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But there were no party rules prohibiting the RNC from making such a move. If it had been adopted, it could have given the Republican Party a jump-start on planning a general election matchup with Democratic President Joe Biden, who has begun framing his reelection campaign as a 2020 rematch against Trump.

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There was also precedent for the committee to declare a candidate the presumptive nominee before winning the 1,215 requisite delegates to clinch the nomination. Then-RNC Chair Reince Priebus did so with Trump in May 2016.

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Despite losing both the Iowa and New Hampshire contests to Trump, Haley has argued that her performance — outlasting all the other Trump rivals — shows the strength of her candidacy.

Trump currently has 32 delegates to Haley’s 17. There is one delegate left to be assigned after the New Hampshire contest.

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During a rally Wednesday night in her home state of South Carolina, Haley — the former governor — noted that her campaign had brought in more than $1 million since her second-place finish in New Hampshire. Trump followed up with a remark that appeared aimed at intimidating her donors.

“Anybody that makes a ‘Contribution’ to Birdbrain, from this moment forth, will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp,” Trump wrote, using the nickname he has crafted for Haley and the abbreviation for his “Make America Great Again” slogan. “We don’t want them, and will not accept them, because we Put America First, and ALWAYS WILL!”

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Haley’s campaign said Thursday that it raised an additional $1.2 million “after Trump’s unhinged pledge to ‘permanently bar’ any individual who contributed to Haley’s campaign.”

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“Donald Trump’s threats highlight the stark choice in this election: personal vendettas or real conservative leadership,” said Haley spokesperson AnnMarie Graham-Barnes. “Trump’s scheme blew up in his face. The contributions to the Haley campaign are pouring in — proof that people are sick of the drama and are rallying behind Nikki’s vision for a strong and proud America.”

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Trump’s dismissal of any Haley donors had no effect on T.J. Petrizzo, a former top Capitol Hill staffer and now lobbyist who supports Haley.

“That’s something out of a ‘Godfather’ movie. Never betray the family? Come on,” he added. “You’ve got to play this through.”

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Petrizzo said he understands that some Republicans may be ready to pivot to a head-to-head contest between Trump and Biden, but he notes that there is a lot of time left before a general election.

“I’ve heard a lot of elected officials in the Republican Party, including the RNC chair, say, ‘We need to rally around a candidate.’ That this is going to be our candidate. ‘It was chosen by Iowa and New Hampshire, so we must go ahead and rally around Trump,’” Petrizzo said. “Well, there’s 285 days until the election. There’s plenty of time on the clock.”

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