Trump Signs GOP Loyalty Pledge

Trump signs GOP pledge

Photo by Richard Drew/AP

Trump Signs GOP Loyalty Pledge
| published September 3, 2015 |

By R. Alan Clanton Thursday Review editor

Under pressure because of his thus-far ongoing refusal to state that he will remain loyal to the Republican Party even if he does not secure the GOP nomination next year, businessman and TV personality Donald Trump signed a pledge on Thursday not to run as an independent candidate or to run on a third party ticket in 2016.

Trump made the announcement shortly after meeting with Republican officials in his Trump Tower offices in New York. Trump said he signed the pledge willingly, but asked in return that he be treated fairly by GOP officials and other candidates.

Trump is currently the polling leader among the 17 or more Republican candidates running for President, but his continued barbs and insults aimed at some of the other GOP candidates—along with his refusal during the first candidates’ debate to acknowledge loyalty to the party he calls home—has prompted other Republicans to openly challenge Trump’s place in the race.

Prior to August, other Republicans generally held their fire when it came to Trump, abiding by what Ronald Reagan famously called the Eleventh Commandment—thou shall not speak ill of thy fellow Republicans. But Trump has brashly battled several other GOP candidates directly, even engaging in insults and name-calling. This has prompted others, including Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, to challenge Trump and his loyalty to the GOP.

Trump taunted other candidates and teased reporters as recently as last week that he might strongly consider options for the third party or independent run for the Presidency if things did not go his way in the GOP primaries and caucuses. Trump also hinted to journalists with NBC and CBS that he was looking into what was required, legally, to create a third party movement. This heightened the talk that Trump might bolt the party if he were to lose in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina if he were to slip back into second or third place.

If Trump were to forge a third party run for the White House, most analysts agree that it would split Republican and independent voters, and very likely pave the road for an easy victory for the Democrats—regardless of who the Democratic or Republican nominees turn out to be in the fall of 2016.

Beginning last week former Florida Governor Bush, once the de facto front-runner, but now mired in single digits and in fifth place, ramped up his direct attacks on Trump, questioning Trump’s fidelity to the GOP. Trump was once a Democrat, then later an independent, and has switched party affiliations several times. Press reports have indicated that the campaign staffs—and even some of the candidates—have besieged RNC chairman Reince Priebus with demands that Trump either pledge his commitment to the GOP, or be removed from future debates. GOP organizations in several states were considering legal challenges if Trump was able to get enough signatures to get on the state ballots.

Some polls show Trump still gathering momentum among those who identify themselves as Republican, even though his poll numbers appeared to have reached a ceiling last week. Recent polls by CNN show Trump leading the field with 24%, but a new Monmouth poll shows Trump now with an astounding 30%, his highest poll number to date. The Monmouth poll, which concluded Wednesday, September 2 at midnight, shows only Dr. Ben Carson even close to challenging Trump with 18%. All other candidates are mired in single digits, with Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush at 8% each, and Marco Rubio with 5%.

Conversely, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Bush regaining some ground by pulling-in roughly 12%, but with Trump leading at 31%.

Campaign ads running on behalf of the Bush campaign began airing this week in some major TV markets, and the new ads attack Trump directly, calling him a thinly-disguised Democrat. Other ads point to Trump’s past support of abortion rights, his past support of an Obamacare-like medical system, and even his past support of higher taxes as evidence that Trump is anything but a conservative, and certainly no genuine Republican.

Anti-Washington sentiment is running extremely high in this election cycle, and many political analysts suggest that Trump’s recent surge in popularity (even among moderate and independent voters) reflects this general dissatisfaction with politics-as-usual. Like Trump, Dr. Ben Carson has never held elective office, yet his poll numbers have been steadily growing. Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, like Trump and Carson, has never run for office, but has seen her fortunes rise in recent weeks.

Even the Democratic Party has seen the effects of the anti-Washington mood as non-conventional candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, continues to draw huge crowds to political events. Sanders polling has confounded political experts as he continues to chip away—albeit slowly—at Hillary Clinton’s once-formidable lead among Democrats.

One perhaps minor snag for Republicans: the signed pledge, which Trump held up for reporters and TV crews to see, was visibly dated August 3, 2015—as opposed to the correct date of September 3. When journalists questioned the authenticity of the document, Trump quickly added “we’ll change it.” Aside from the glitch regarding the date, some legal analysts question the value and durability of such a written pledge. In the meantime, RNC officials hope that the document puts an end to the distracting talk of a third party run by the billionaire real estate mogul and TV personality.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Fiorina May Appear in CNN Debate After All; Keith H. Roberts; Thursday Review; September 2, 2015.

Can Trump’s Bully Strategy Keep Working?; Keith H. Roberts; Thursday Review; September 1, 2015.