Has Donald Trump agreed to rule out a third-party run and support the Republican nominee even if that nominee’s name is not Donald Trump? We won’t know for sure until the current GOP front-runner meets the press at a 2 p.m. news conference at Trump Tower, but Politico’s Mike Allen reports that it’s a done deal:
A close associate tells POLITICO that Donald Trump plans to sign a loyalty pledge Thursday that would bind him to endorse the Republican nominee, and would preclude a third-party run. Trump made the stunning decision, which he has long resisted, to avoid complications in getting listed on primary ballots, and to take away an attack line in the next debate, the associate said.
The report comes after the Republican National Committee reached out to the entire GOP field on Wednesday, asking each candidate to sign a loyalty pledge to that effect. “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,” the document reads. “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.”
The RNC request was clearly aimed directly at Trump, who has declined to rule out a third-party run—even under repeated questioning from Fox News at the first GOP debate last month in Cleveland. (The closest he came onstage to promising to support the Republican Party in the general election was this Trumpian promise: “If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent.”)
Trump’s set to hold an afternoon meeting with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus prior to his afternoon press conference. Since this is Trump we’re talking about, we’ll have to wait and see if he really does sign the pledge—and if he ultimately follows it. As his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, told Politico when asked to confirm the report: “I don’t think you can ‘expect’ anything from Mr. Trump.” That’s not entirely true: You can always expect a show.