It was the opening salvo from Fox News moderators in last Thursday’s debate that set the stage for one of the most raucous primary events in recent memory: would all the candidates pledge no third party run.
Donald Trump’s lone declaration from center stage that he would not rule out a run for president as an Independent should he fail to win the GOP nomination drew immediate boos from the ten-thousand-plus crowd.
Citing the “leverage” that such a possibility gives him with the RNC, Trump argued that his refusal to endorse the eventual nominee helps guarantee the party will treat him fairly.
But the RNC pushed back in post-debate comments this week suggesting that entrance into the subsequent debates may hinge on whether the candidates would formally agree to that pledge.
It’s the sort of Mexican stand-off that is sure to keep Trump’s name in the headlines. If he refuses to take the pledge, he could find himself uninvited to the remaining eight debates.
But he could just as easily take his campaign independent, which polls have indicated could pull as much as 15% of GOP voters with him.
In a Monday interview with ABC News, Trump indicated that though it is not “imminent”, he may change his tune on the non-pledge stance.