Trump re­fuses pledge not to run as third-party can­di­date

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The first de­bate among can­di­dates of the op­po­si­tion U.S. Repub­li­can Party run­ning for pres­i­dent in 2016 put to rest spec­u­la­tion that bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man Don­ald Trump would mod­er­ate his harsh de­nounce­ment of Amer­ica’s politi­cians. He used the open­ing mo­ments of the face­off with nine other can­di­dates to refuse to rule out run­ning as an in­de­pen­dent.

Should he do that, Trump likely would split the Repub­li­can vote, mak­ing it more likely that rul­ing Demo­cratic Party fron­trun­ner Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton would win, giv­ing her party a third straight term in the White House.

Trump was at cen­ter stage be­cause he has run up a con­sid­er­able polling lead among the 17 Repub­li­cans run­ning for the nom­i­na­tion. He was the only one of 10 can­di­dates in the main de­bate Thurs­day night to raise his hand when the Fox News hosts asked who would not pledge to sup­port the even­tual party nom­i­nee.

“I will not make the pledge,” he said.

Trump, who brushed aside ques­tions about his public den­i­gra­tion of women and said he had done noth­ing but used Amer­i­can laws when four of his com­pa­nies took bank­ruptcy, put to rest spec­u­la­tion he would tone down his rhetoric.

Trump’s

re­fusal

to

take

the pledge en­raged Ken­tucky Sen. Rand Paul, who said Trump was “al­ready hedg­ing his bets be­cause he’s used to buy­ing politi­cians.”

Through the re­main­der of the de­bate, the can­di­dates made lit­tle news, choos­ing in­stead to use their time in the two-hour ses­sion to re­peat al­ready well-known po­si­tions.

But Trump stood out for his will­ing­ness to stand be­hind many of his past state­ments that many ex­pected would be ru­inous to his cam­paign. In­stead he has risen quickly in the polls to be­come the front-run­ner.

Fif­teen months from the elec­tion, Trump re­mains a long­shot can­di­date to re­place Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. Only 10 of 17 Repub­li­can can­di­dates were in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in the main event, with the re­main­ing seven rel­e­gated to a pre-de­bate fo­rum.

It was a key test for Trump, whose un­pre­dictable style and un­formed pol­icy po­si­tions mean he doesn’t fit neatly into any sin­gle wing of the Repub­li­can Party.

That ap­pears to be a draw to some Repub­li­cans frus­trated with Washington and ca­reer politi­cians, but oth­ers fear his ec­cen­tric­i­ties and out­landish com­ments — whether about Mex­i­can immi- grants be­ing “crim­i­nals” and “rapists” or his ques­tion­ing of the war record of Sen. John McCain — will taint the Amer­i­can public’s view of the party.

Stand­ing to Trump’s left on the de­bate stage Thurs­day night was for­mer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a fa­vorite of the wealthy donors and busi­ness lead­ers that pop­u­late the es­tab­lish­ment wing of the Repub­li­can Party. But Bush, the son and brother of two for­mer U.S. pres­i­dents, has strug­gled to sep­a­rate him­self from the rest of the field and he faces ques­tions about whether his nom­i­na­tion would mark a re­turn to the past.

Immigration and coun­tert­er­ror­ism dom­i­nated the early stages of the de­bate, two is­sues that high­light the deep di­vi­sions within the Repub­li­can Party.

Bush, whose wife was born in Mexico, de­fended his call for a path to le­gal sta­tus for some of the peo­ple liv­ing in the U.S. il­le­gally. It’s an un­pop­u­lar po­si­tion among some Repub­li­can vot­ers who equate le­gal sta­tus with amnesty.

“The great ma­jor­ity of peo­ple com­ing here have no other op­tion,” Bush said.

Trump in par­tic­u­lar has pushed the is­sue of immigration through­out the sum­mer. He said Thurs­day bor­der pa­trol agents agreed with his com­ments about Mex­i­cans, and he took credit for immigration be­ing an is­sue in the 2016 cam­paign.

AP

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump speaks to the media in the spin room af­ter the first Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial de­bate at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleve­land, Ohio, Thurs­day, Aug. 6.

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