One of the many concerns Republicans have had about Donald Trump’s presidential bid is the fear that he would run as an independent, and thus split the vote, if he failed to become the nominee. Trump’s prior caginess surrounding the matter has been put to rest as he signed a Republican National Committee loyalty pledge on September 3. The singing followed a 15-minute meeting with RNC chairman Reince Priebus at Trump Tower New York.
The pledge, which the other 16 Republican candidates have also signed, reads as follows: “I, _____ affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for President of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is. I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”
Whether or not signing the pledge helps or hinders Trump—whose main appeal stems in part from being anti-establishment—remains to be seen. Trump cited “assurance that I will be treated fairly” as the main reason he has committed to the pledge.
Although the pledge means Republicans can be more confident that Trump will be out of the picture should he lose the nomination, the agreement does have a flip side to it. Should Trump end up as the presidential nominee, the other Republican candidates would be obligated to throw their support behind him. This could place candidates, such as Jeb Bush, who has been exchanging attacks with Trump for some time, in an uncomfortable position. When questioned about this, Bush reaffirmed his willingness to support Trump should such an event occur.
The loyalty pledge is, however, completely nonbinding and has no means of actual enforcement. Nothing, save their word, can stop one of the candidates from breaking it.
Lee, M.J., et al., “Donald Trump signs RNC loyalty pledge,” CNN web site, September 3, 2015.