RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020

Republican National Committee (RNC) members voted on Friday to throw the party’s “undivided support” behind President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE ahead of his 2020 reelection bid as speculation continues to mount about potential primary challengers.

The resolution unanimously approved by the RNC at its winter meeting in New Mexico offered “undivided support for President Donald J. Trump and his effective Presidency.”

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While the resolution is largely symbolic, it is also unusual, because the RNC has historically refrained from expressing support for a candidate before he officially becomes the party’s nominee.

The vote on Friday signals how the Republican Party has come to fully embrace Trump, three years after many Republican officials and members dismissed him as a thorn in the GOP’s side.

The vote isn’t the only sign of the party’s deepening ties to Trump. The president’s campaign committee is expected to merge its field and fundraising operations with the RNC for the reelection bid, creating a single entity intended to streamline campaign efforts.

The moves appear to be aimed at discouraging other Republicans from challenging Trump for the party’s nomination in 2020.

Former Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeArpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument Carbon tax shows new signs of life in Congress MORE (R-Ariz.), who were among Trump’s fiercest Republican critics in Congress, have been floated as possible primary challengers.

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyA US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces MORE (R-Utah), the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, also stirred speculation of a potential bid against Trump after he recently penned an op-ed for The Washington Post accusing the president of failing to provide the country with clear moral leadership.

No Republican has announced a bid against Trump yet.

RNC members also voted unanimously on Friday to reelect Ronna Romney McDaniel as party chair.

McDaniel, who is Romney's niece, has been an ardent defender of Trump since assuming the top RNC role in 2017, even criticizing her uncle for his op-ed earlier this month.

While Trump remains largely popular with Republican voters, his overall job approval has fallen in recent weeks amid a prolonged partial government shutdown. 

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released this week showed Trump’s approval dipping to just 34 percent — down 8 points from a month earlier.

Still, the poll showed Trump’s approval among Republican voters near 80 percent, suggesting that he largely has the support of his core voters.

Dozens of Democrats are weighing potential challenges to Trump in 2020. Among those who have already entered the race are Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall In shift, top CEOs say shareholder value not top goal MORE (Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisEight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters MORE (Calif.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters F-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever White House offers reassurances amid recession fears as 2020 candidates sound alarm MORE (N.Y.).