The three Republican presidential candidates now say they are not committing to supporting whomever the party chooses as its nominee for the November election, which could lead to a fractured nominating convention in July.
Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich indicated early in the campaign that they would support the eventual nominee, but they backed off on Tuesday night in town hall appearances in Wisconsin. The state’s primary is next week.
Mr Trump said he was rescinding his promise because “I have been treated very unfairly.” He listed the Republican National Committee, the Republican Party and party establishment among those he believes have wronged him.
The front-runner added: “I only want the people to support me, I will take my chances with the people.”
Mr Cruz said if Trump were the nominee, that would hand the election to Democrat Hillary Clinton. “I’m not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and children,” Mr Cruz said, referring to Mr Trump’s jabs at his wife, Heidi.
Mr Kasich said that “if the nominee is somebody that I think is really hurting the country and dividing the country, I can’t stand behind them.” But he said he would wait and see how events unfold.
Wisconsin’s primary on Monday looks pivotal in the Republican race. If Mr Cruz wins, it would narrow Mr Trump’s already tight path to the nomination and raise the prospect of a contested party convention. Delegates there might turn to other candidates if the billionaire fails to win on the first ballot.
Mr Trump arrived in Wisconsin fending off another controversy.
His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with misdemeanor battery in Florida on Tuesday over an altercation with a female reporter earlier this month.