If Donald Trump has promised not to pursue a third-party candidacy for president, as media reports predict, that’s good news for the Republican Party. Even with all his money and media attention, Trump could not have won going third-party, but in a general election he certainly could have torpedoed whatever hope the GOP may have.
(UPDATE: Trump has indeed signed the pledge.)
So congratulations to Reince Priebus. The RNC chair helped to engineer this effort to keep Trump contained in the GOP corral, and it has worked.
“So tell Mr. Priebus what he has won, Don!”
OK. What Mr. Priebus has won is a Donald Trump who now honestly believes that he can win the nomination, and who is now intent on doing whatever it takes to become the nominee and take the fight all the way to the convention if necessary. There’s no other way to interpret this. Signing the pledge is the act of a practical, goal-oriented businessman rather than a political gadfly. Forget the campaign speech back on June 16 — that was show business. This is the real announcement of Trump as a serious contender, someone willing to compromise rather than take the risk of being excluded from primary ballots. Any chance of him bowing out before Iowa and New Hampshire is probably gone as of today.
Maybe this all began as a vanity operation, a way to build the Trump brand and enjoy some time in the media spotlight; maybe it didn’t. Whatever the case, it’s not that now. Somewhere along the line, the adoring crowds and strong polls convinced Trump that this is achievable, that he could actually be president of the United States of America. And I suspect that once committed, he doesn’t take such things lightly.
That’s what Mr. Priebus has won.