At Fox News’ Republican presidential debate last Thursday, Donald Trump angered party activists and drew fire from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul when the billionaire real estate mogul refused to promise not to run as a third-party candidate if he were to fail to obtain the GOP nomination. However, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign reportedly told ABC News’ chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl that Trump is now considering reversing his position and pledging not to run as an independent.
The position change reportedly comes as the Trump campaign attempts to shift away from controversial comments Trump made recently about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly through more conventional campaigning efforts like rolling out position papers on trade and immigration and visiting with voters in Michigan, Iowa, and New Hampshire.
Additionally, according to Jonathan Karl, the Republican National Committee might ban Trump from future debates if he refuses to pledge his support for the GOP. “Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has directly called on all candidates to pledge not to make a third-party run. The Republican Party has leverage here: senior GOP officials say it is possible that future debates could be limited to candidates who have pledged support for the party — a move that could leave Trump out of debates if he is still leaving open the possibility of running as an independent… The RNC has already made it clear that it will withhold valuable party data on Republican voters from any candidate unwilling to pledge support to the party,” wrote Karl.
At last Thursday’s Republican presidential debate, Fox News anchor Brett Baier said, “Experts say an independent run [by Trump] would almost certainly hand the race over the Democrats and likely another Clinton.”
During the debate, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul criticized Trump for refusing to support the Republican Party’s eventual nominee and said, “He’s already hedging his bet, okay? If he doesn’t run as a Republican, maybe he supports Clinton or maybe he runs as an independent. But I tell you, he’s already hedging his bets because he’s used to buying politicians.”
For more 2016 election coverage, click here.