Trump signs GOP loyalty pledge not to run as third-party candidate
WASHINGTON — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said Thursday that he has signed a pledge not to run as an independent or third-party candidate, and that he’ll support the eventual Republican presidential nominee.
The Republican presidential front-runner met privately with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and soon after came out to the lobby of Trump Tower to declare that he had signed a loyalty pledge.
It means Trump has promised to support the party’s eventual nominee — whoever that might be.
“The best way for the Republicans to win is if I win the nomination and go directly against whoever they happen to put up. And for that reason, I have signed the pledge,” Trump said, holding up the paper. “So I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and for the conservative principles for which it stands”
He added: “We will go out and fight hard, and we will win.”
Trump has enjoyed a sustained lead in national polls, and the sit-down with Priebus comes amid unease about whether the billionaire businessman would rebuff the party and seek the White House as an independent.
RNC officials began circulating a pledge to various GOP presidential campaigns this week, measuring up how much appetite there is in the field to commit to supporting the eventual nominee.
“I, ________, affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for President of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is,” it reads.
The pledge continues: “I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”
Advisers to the candidate have said all along that Trump was never seriously interested in launching an independent run, which is an arduous — and costly — process.
The pledge has not only put pressure on Trump to commit to the party, it’s also forcing some of his rivals to promise to support Trump if he were to clinch the GOP nomination.
It’s a particularly uncomfortable position for a candidate like Jeb Bush, who in recent weeks has publicly clashed with Trump. The two men have released attack videos on social media, and openly criticized one another on the trail.
On ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday morning, Bush lashed out at Trump again, saying, “I think Donald Trump is trying to insult his way to the presidency and it’s not going to work.”
However, pressed on whether he would support Trump if he were to become the nominee, the former Florida governor answered in the affirmative.
“Yes, I would, of course. We need to be unified. We need to win,” Bush said.
Meanwhile, others are raising questions about just how enforceable a loyalty pledge is.
“You’re right, it’s unenforceable,” candidate Carly Fiorina said. “It is, more than anything else, your word.”