It was one of the most unusual moments in the history of televised debates. Last August, with rumors swirling that Donald Trump would yank his campaign out of the Republican Party primaries and run for president as a third-party candidate, the Fox News moderators asked the entire field if there was anyone who would not pledge their support to the eventual nominee.
Only Trump raised his hand, telling viewers that he would only make that pledge if he felt the RNC treated him fairly throughout the election.
As it turned out, of course, Trump himself became the nominee and all talk of a third-party run became meaningless.
But the other candidates – the ones who vowed to support the nominee no matter who it turned out to be – wound up regretting their hasty pledge.
Well, some of them.
This week, Fox News reported that Ohio Governor John Kasich cast his ballot for…John McCain. The write-in vote meant nothing – McCain is not among the approved write-in candidates – but it showed that Kasich is not a man of his word. The news came as no surprise to anyone who has followed Kasich since the primaries; he’s been an adamant NeverTrumper and even refused to lend the nominee his extensive Ohio campaign infrastructure.
Kasich is widely expected to make another bid for the nomination in 2020.
But Kasich’s not the only Republican candidate who has welshed on the pledge.
Jeb Bush, who was the odds-on favorite to win the nomination (in simpler times), said earlier this year that he would not be willing to vote for Trump. In a Facebook post, Bush said that Trump “has not demonstrated the temperament or strength of character” required to be president.
For months, it seemed that Ted Cruz would follow the examples set by Bush and Kasich, but he finally came around to supporting Trump in September.
Marco Rubio has taken the Paul Ryan approach – criticizing Trump whenever he’s asked about him, while still maintaining that he supports him over Hillary Clinton.
The rest of the main stage candidates have endorsed Trump with one degree of enthusiasm or another, though only Chris Christie, Ben Carson, and Mike Huckabee have heartily campaigned for the billionaire.
It remains to be seen if Kasich and Bush will suffer politically for their vow-breaking ways.