Frontrunner Donald Trump revoked his loyalty pledge to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee last night, in a town hall forum with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. His chief rival, Ted Cruz, did not explicitly revoke his similar pledge, while John Kasich also vacillated on his own pledge.
“No, I don’t anymore,” Trump said, when asked whether he would honor his September oath. “No, we’ll see who it is.” When Cooper pointed out that Ted Cruz had not crossed the line in terms of breaking his own pledge of support, The Donald responded, “He doesn’t have to support me.”
Cruz himself stopped short of saying he would not support Trump if he were the eventual nominee, insisting that the question is meaningless because the Texas senator himself would win the nomination.
For his part, Kasich declared that if the nominee is someone who “is really hurting the country and dividing the country,” then he may not support that person. When Cooper pressed him on whether he thinks Trump is such a divider, the Ohio governor would not take a position.
In September of last year, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus asked Trump to sign a loyalty oath, to preclude The Donald from bolting the party and running as a third-party candidate. The real estate tycoon agreed to sign one, so long as every other candidate also did so. As it happened, every candidate took the pledge, but now it seems the remaining three are casting that pledge aside.
Trump argued that keeping faith with his pledge would be a betrayal of his supporters. “I have tremendous support right now from the people. I have many more delegates than” Cruz, The Donald told Anderson Cooper. “I don’t want people to do something against their will, Anderson.”
This comes after the Republican race has recently taken a very ugly turn. After an anti-Trump Super PAC unaffiliated with Cruz in any way released an ad featuring a nude photo of Melania Trump, The Donald threatened Cruz’s wife in retaliation, threatening to “spill the beans.” Shortly thereafter, the Trump-connected tabloid the National Enquirer published a story alleging that Cruz slept with five different women. Cruz denied the claims, as did many of the women who allegedly slept with him, but the damage was done.
Trump’s comments do not commit him to a third-party run if he does not win the race, but the threat again stands. Democrats think they can win the House of Representatives if Trump is the nominee, and they may have a right-wing third-party run from The Donald if he is not.