Trump signs RNC pledge not to run as independent

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Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a TV interview at the Trump Bar inside the Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, August 26, 2015. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

NEW YORK – Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said Thursday that he’s signed a pledge not to run as an independent or third party candidate, and that he’ll support the eventual Republican presidential nominee.

The Republican presidential front-runner met privately with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus Thursday afternoon, and soon after, came out to the lobby of Trump Tower to declare that he has signed a loyalty pledge. This means Trump has promised to support the party’s eventual nominee — whoever that may be — and that he will not run as a third-party candidate.

“The best way for the Republicans to win is if I win the nomination and go directly against whoever they happen to put up. And for that reason, I have signed the pledge,” Trump said, holding up the paper. “So I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and for the conservative principles for which it stands.”

He added: “We will go out and fight hard, and we will win.”

If Trump’s official declaration of allegiance to the party serves to calm the nerves of establishment Republicans — at least for now — it could also invite backlash from some of the bombastic candidate’s die-hard supporters.

Trump has propelled himself to the top of the polls by casting himself as an anti-establishment, outsider candidate, railing against career politicians and the Washington political class.

Signing an RNC pledge complicates that image.

Katrina Pierson, a spokeswoman for the Tea Party Leadership Fund and a Trump defender, told CNN she personally does not condone the pledge.

“The GOP has not been loyal to members of its own party during previous election cycles,” PIerson said. “I can’t see any reason why he would give up that leverage considering a lot of his supporters like the idea that he’s running against the establishment.”

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