NEW YORK: Republican frontrunner for president and brash billionaire Donald Trump pledged loyalty to the Republican Party on Thursday and ruled out a third-party tilt for the 2016 election.
He made the announcement in the lobby of his New York headquarters as he shot to an even greater lead with 30 percent of the Republican-leaning vote, according to the latest opinion poll by Monmouth University.
“I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles for which it stands,” the real estate tycoon told a news conference at Trump Tower.
“We will go out and we will fight hard and we will win. I see no circumstances under which I would tear up that pledge.”
It marks an about-turn for the former reality TV star, 69, who kicked off the first Republican debate in Ohio last month by refusing to rule out a third-party run.
His say-it-how-it-is attitude, business acumen and charisma have made him a rock star in the eyes of ordinary Republican voters but his refusal to dismiss an independent run had confounded party grandees.
The lobby of Trump Tower was crammed to bursting with reporters, employees, loyalists and members of the public craning for a sight of the man known to millions as perhaps America’s most outspoken billionaire.
There had been widespread Republican fears that a third-party run could split the vote and hand the Democrats — and frontrunner Hillary Clinton — a free ticket into the White House.
Trump said he changed his mind because of his soaring poll figures and said that him winning the Republican ticket was the “absolute best way” to win the White House and beat the Democrats.
In a sign of his growing stature, he pointed out it was Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus who had brought the pledge to Trump to sign, and not he who had gone calling.