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 says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump tweets ICE will begin removing 'millions' of undocumented migrants 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 CorkerPress: How 'Nervous Nancy' trumped Trump Press: How 'Nervous Nancy' trumped Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Tenn.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeDemocrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment 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 RomneyThe Congressional Award — a beacon of hope  McConnell defends Trump amid backlash: 'He gets picked at every day' McConnell defends Trump amid backlash: 'He gets picked at every day' 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 WarrenTrump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' Trump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' 2020 Democrats look to cut into Biden's lead with black voters MORE (Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' Trump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' 2020 Democrats look to cut into Biden's lead with black voters MORE (Calif.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOvernight Health Care: Democrats attack after Trump revives talk of ObamaCare replacement | Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez efforts on birth control face major obstacles | CVS investing M to fight teen e-cig use Overnight Health Care: Democrats attack after Trump revives talk of ObamaCare replacement | Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez efforts on birth control face major obstacles | CVS investing M to fight teen e-cig use Trump's 2020 campaign strategy is to be above the law MORE (N.Y.).