Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump shocked viewers Thursday night when he refused to rule out a third-party run, but in a post-debate interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, he said he did so only for “leverage” with the Republican establishment.
Right out of the gate, Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked the 10 top-tier presidential candidate if they would pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee and not run as a third-party candidate.
“Raise your hand now if you won’t make that pledge tonight,” Baier said.
Trump was the lone candidate to raise a hand. Much of the audience reacted in boos.
“I can’t say I have to respect the person — if it’s not me — the person who wins,” Trump said.
Here’s the exchange:
Trump explained his reasoning further after the debate on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity.”
“I’ll make the pledge if I win,” he told the host. “Why should I give up that leverage if they don’t treat me well? You’re talking about the establishment Republicans.”
He added, “I may at some point do it. I’m starting to really like the establishment people.”
Watch the interview.
Right after Trump refused to pledge not to run as a third-party candidate, fellow GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul challenged him. Fox News host Greg Gutfeld tweeted:
props to Rand Paul, for deciding to make it a debate.
— GregGutfeld (@greggutfeld) August 7, 2015
Breitbart News writer John Hayward also noted Paul’s challenge, as well as the boos:
Kickoff: Trump refuses to pledge he won’t run as indy against GOP nominee if it’s not him. Rand Paul swoops in for the tackle,
— John Hayward (@Doc_0) August 7, 2015
Whether Trump’s explanation to Hannity was enough to quell the booers remains to be seen.
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