The first Republican debate of the election season kicked off in a big way with Donald Trump essentially flipping the bird to the entire field of Republican candidates.
After weeks of whispers and rumors about a possible third party run by one of the candidates, moderator Brett Baier of Fox News opened the debate with a question intended to clear the air:
“Gentlemen, we know how much you love hand raising questions so we promise this is the only one tonight. The only one. Is there anyone on stage—can I see hands—who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican Party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person? Again, we’re looking for you to raise your hand now, raise your hand now if you won’t make that pledge tonight.”
After looking to his right and left like a kid in grade school, Trump thrust his hand up in the air.
Baier, addressing Trump directly, followed up:
“Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump, to be clear, you’re standing on a Republican—“
“I fully understand,” Trump said.
“The place where the RNC will give the nominee the nod,” Baier continued.
“I fully understand,” Trump repeated.
“And the experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over the Democrats and likely another Clinton. You can’t say tonight that you can make that pledge?” Baier said.
“I cannot say, I have to respect the person that if it’s not me, the person that wins. If I do win–and I’m leading by quite a bit–that’s what I want to do. I can totally make the pledge if I’m the nominee. I am discussing it with everybody. But I’m talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee.”
The crowd erupted with a very visceral reaction after Trump made his remarks. But lets be honest, anyone who supports Trump and was shocked or dismayed by his revelation probably had never heard of Trump before he announced his candidacy. He isn’t exactly a shrinking violet who keeps his feelings a secret.
This new turn has thrown many of Trump’s supporters for a loop. Some questioning whether their support of him is misplaced. The possibility of a third party run that could propel Hillary (or worse) into the White House a la Ross Perot has some people spooked.
You can witness it right here:
What do you think of the possibility of Trump running as a third party candidate?