John Kasich's top adviser responded with a statement slamming RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

By Tierney McAfee
Updated September 19, 2016 04:15 PM
Credit: Tony Dejak/AP

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is warning Donald Trump‘s former primary opponents to endorse the GOP nominee for president – or potentially suffer the consequences in 2020 or 2024.

“Those people need to get on board,” Priebus said Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation. “And if they’re thinking they’re going to run again someday, I think that we’re going to evaluate the process – of the nomination process and I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for them.”

Former GOP presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and John Kasich have not endorsed Trump in the months since he clinched the nomination, despite signing a “loyalty pledge” last summer promising to support the eventual Republican nominee – whomever that may be.

The document was not legally binding but Priebus said the party will “look at” the possibility of penalizing 2016 Republican hopefuls who fail to endorse Trump should they decide to run for president again in the future.

“People in our party are talking about what we’re going to do about this. I mean there’s a ballot access issue in South Carolina. In order to be on the ballot in South Carolina, you actually have to pledge your support to the nominee, no matter who that person is,” Priebus said. “So what’s the penalty for that? It’s not a threat, but that’s just the question that we have a process in place.”

“And if a private entity puts forward a process and has agreement with the participants in that process, and those participants don’t follow through with the promises that they made in that process, what should a private party do about that if those same people come around in four or eight years?” he added.

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Priebus’ threat apparently did little to intimidate Kasich, however. The Ohio governor’s top adviser, John Weaver, fired back Sunday night with a statement slamming Priebus and warning of a national GOP “wipeout.”

“‘Thankfully, there are still leaders in this country who put principles before politics,” Weaver said, adding, “The idea of a greater purpose beyond oneself may be alien to political party bosses like Reince Priebus, but it is at the center of everything Governor Kasich does. He will not be bullied by a Kenosha political operative that is unable to stand up for core principles or beliefs.”

Weaver also said Priebus should be thanking Kasich for offering “an inclusive, conservative vision that can actually win a national election,” adding that “the Governor is traveling the nation supporting down ballot Republicans and preventing a potential national wipeout from occurring on Reince’s watch.”