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 signs bill averting shutdown after brief funding lapse Privacy, civil rights groups demand transparency from Amazon on election data breaches Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus 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 CorkerHas Congress captured Russia policy? Tennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans Cheney clashes with Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeHow fast population growth made Arizona a swing state Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Republican former Michigan governor says he's voting for Biden 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 RomneyGOP senators pan debate: 'S---show,' 'awful,' 'embarrassment' Romney, Murphy 'extremely concerned' about threats to withdraw from US Embassy in Baghdad Schumer rips Trump, GOP over debate: 'How are you not embarrassed?' 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 WarrenWarren slams Trump over Proud Boys comments Ocasio-Cortez, Warren pull out of New Yorker Festival amid labor dispute The Hill's Morning Report - Fight night: Trump, Biden hurl insults in nasty debate MORE (Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisDebate commission adding option to cut candidates' mics: report Debates panel says changes under consideration 'to ensure a more orderly discussion' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Country reacts to debate night of mudslinging MORE (Calif.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMeeting Trump Supreme Court pick a bridge too far for some Democrats Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election MORE (N.Y.).