Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Thursday afternoon he would sign a GOP pledge not to run as a third-party candidate. "I just wanted fairness from the Republican Party," he said, speaking outside Trump Tower in New York City. "The best way for Republicans to win is if I win the nomination."
Trump said there were no circumstances under which he would go back on the pledge and that he was the best candidate to take on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. "We will win," he said.
Trump ’s press conference came just a day after an aggressive attempt by the Republican National Committee to force the real estate mogul into pledging that he would support whoever the eventual Republican nominee is and that he would not run as an independent nominee or on another ticket, if he doesn’t win the nomination. The issue quickly became a talking point as conflicting reports came out indicating both that Trump would and would not pledge, according to unnamed sources.
The Republican front-runner previously refused to make the pledge on national television. During the first Republican debates in early August, the moderators asked the 10 candidates on the stage to raise their hand if they couldn’t promise allegiance to the party. Trump, front and center for the live prime-time broadcast, was the sole candidate to raise his hand.
The controversy also comes amid attacks on Trump for his past political views, primarily from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a GOP presidential rival. Bush has come out strong against Trump this month and released a scathing video in which Trump, during pre-candidacy interviews, praises Hillary Clinton and at least strongly implies that he’s a Democrat at heart (he was at one time a registered Democrat, too).
The expressed views Trump has on taxes, on health care are more closely aligned to those of Hillary Clinton. https://t.co/wXKfCuLmFx
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) September 3, 2015
If things keep going as they’re going now for Trump, the GOP pledge wouldn’t matter anyway. At 26.5 percent, he’s leading the rest of the Republican pack in an average of national polls by 14 points. In early nominating states like Nevada, South Carolina, Iowa, and New Hampshire, he’s also leading with double digits in poll averages.
Trump supporters said they weren't dissuaded by the attacks against him concerning his previous Democratic leanings. "I don't think that that's unusual at all. A lot of people change their mind," said Kate Smith of Dallas, who was in New York for the U.S. Open this week and stopped by Trump Towers to watch the press conference Thursday. "I think he's making the race interesting. He's very charismatic."
R.P. Perrotta, an Italian tourist who was visiting Trump Towers Thursday, called Trump "the best businessman."
"He's a good negotiator," Perrotta said. "We need a good president. If he starts to rebuild the economy, then even Europe will rebound."