Trump signs GOP loyalty pledge

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump gives Lester Holt a C grade for debate Trump camp talking points: Mention Monica Lewinsky Trump floats theory that Google suppresses negative news on Clinton MORE on Thursday signed a pledge saying he will not run as third-party candidate in the 2016 election. 

Insisting he has been treated fairly by the Republican National Committee (RNC), Trump announced at a press conference that he is pledging his allegiance to the Republican Party.

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“I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles to which it stands,” Trump said. “We will go out and we will fight hard and we will win, and most importantly we will make our country great again, because that’s what it’s all about.”

Asked if he would change his mind, Trump said, "I see no circumstances in which I would tear up that pledge."

The announcement ends a months-long drama that had some Republicans worried Trump might torpedo the GOP’s presidential hopes by launching a third-party bid.

Polling shows that if Trump were to run as an independent, he would draw substantial support from Republicans and almost certainly deliver the White House to a Democrat.

Trump has repeatedly declined to take the third-party option off the table, most notably holding his ground against pledging his loyalty to the party during the first question of the first Republican debate in August.

However, on Wednesday, the RNC sent a “loyalty pledge” to each of the candidates asking that they support the party’s eventual nominee and vow not to run a third-party campaign.
 
The move was aimed almost exclusively at Trump, who is wealthy enough to launch his own bid and has been the only candidate to publicly threaten to do so.

“We’re leading every single poll … and frankly I felt that the absolute best way to win and to beat the Democrats … is if I win the nomination and go directly against whoever they happen to put up,” Trump said. “For that reason I have signed the pledge.”

Trump had previously said he wants to run as a Republican, but insisted he would keep the option of a third-party run on the table to ensure he’s treated respectfully by party leaders, who he feared might seek to sabotage his insurgent candidacy.

But Trump met personally with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus shortly before making his Thursday announcement, and said he no longer has a reason to hold that leverage over the party.

“The chairman [Priebus] just left as you probably know and he’s been extremely fair,” Trump said. “The RNC has been absolutely terrific over the last two-month period, and as you know, that’s what I’ve wanted. I’ve wanted fairness. I don’t want to be treated differently than anyone else. I just wanted fairness from the Republican Party.”

Trump’s pledge should take the issue off the table for the time being. 

However, the RNC pledge is not legally binding and Trump is a wild card in the GOP race and committed to running on his own terms.

Trump has ridden a media frenzy and fierce anti-establishment sentiment among many Republicans to the top of the polls.

A Monmouth University survey released on Thursday showed Trump hitting a new high, taking 30 percent support and leading the next closest candidate by 12 points.

Trump's son Eric posted this tweet: