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Trump Goes Back On Pledge To Support Eventual GOP Nominee


For months Republicans have been worried that Donald Trump's campaign would divide the party. So back in September party officials had all the candidates sign this pledge to support the eventual nominee. Yesterday, though, those pledges starting to look pretty weak. Here's NPR's Sarah McCammon.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Even though he signed a loyalty pledge, Donald Trump has said for months that he might walk away from it if he feels the party is treating him unfairly. Last night he did just that. During a town hall in Milwaukee, CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Trump if he stood by his pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee. Here is Trump's answer, courtesy of CNN.


DONALD TRUMP: No, I don't anyway. Look...


TRUMP: No, we'll see who it is.

MCCAMMON: The Republican loyalty pledge looks increasingly shaky all around. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested he'd have a hard time supporting Trump. And Ohio Gov. John Kasich said the candidates, quote, "shouldn't even have answered that question."


TRUMP: I really want to win Wisconsin because...

MCCAMMON: Trump was in Wisconsin yesterday where he's polling neck-and-neck with Cruz ahead of next week's primary. But his day of campaigning was overshadowed by news of his campaign manager.


TRUMP: And you probably saw what happened today with my campaign. He's a good guy - Corey.

MCCAMMON: That's Corey Lewandowski, who faces a misdemeanor battery charge and a court date in May. A new surveillance video appears to show him grabbing the arm of former Breitbart news reporter Michelle Fields. She says Lewandowski left bruises as he moved to prevent her from interviewing the billionaire. Trump was standing by his man.


TRUMP: And by the way the easiest thing - Corey, you're fired. I can't do that - can't do it.

MCCAMMON: The campaign released a statement saying Lewandowski is absolutely innocent. Trump himself went after Fields on Twitter, suggesting that maybe she should be charged with a crime for apparently touching him as they spoke. At his rally, Trump raised doubts about Fields' story, asking the crowd if they'd seen the video.


TRUMP: What did you think - right? Nothing. Women are so - what did you think? What did you...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: She just kept walking. There was nothing wrong.

TRUMP: I mean, she wasn't like her face stayed the same.

MCCAMMON: The audience shouted back encouragement at Trump who launched into a dramatic reading of Fields' statement about the incident.


TRUMP: She said, I was jolted backwards. Was she jolted backwards?

MCCAMMON: Several Trump supporters were skeptical of the charge against Lewandowski. Dan Rinehart of Edgerton, Wis., said he saw the video.

DAN RINEHART: What actually happened was nothing and it's been blown out of proportion. Things are going to be twisted when you're leading and you're about to be president of the United States.

MCCAMMON: Trump's Republican rivals have been less-forgiving. Kasich said Lewandowski is innocent until proved guilty but he'd probably suspend a staffer facing such charges. Cruz said the incident is part of a larger pattern with the Trump campaign. Here's Cruz's comment, courtesy of CNN.


TED CRUZ: The culture of the campaign has been a campaign built on attacks, on insults. And I think there is no place in politics for insults, for personal attacks, for going to the gutter. And there should be no place for physical violence either.

MCCAMMON: Cruz picked up the endorsement of Wisconsin governor and former presidential hopeful Scott Walker. Trump pointed that out during his rally.


TRUMP: So Walker came out today. I wrote down notes about Wisconsin.


MCCAMMON: The audience of Wisconsin voters booed their governor. Walker was a conservative star when he entered the presidential race. But, as so often in this campaign, those credentials were not enough. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Janesville, Wis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.