- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 6, 2015

Donald Trump started the first Republican presidential debate Thursday night by refusing to pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee if it’s not him.

“I will not make the pledge at this time,” said Mr. Trump, raising his hand at the beginning of the debate to identify himself as the only one among the 10 top-tier candidates to balk at endorsing the eventual GOP nominee. “I cannot say [that] I have to respect the person if it’s not me.”

There were some boos from the audience in Cleveland, where the Republican nominating convention will be held next summer.

There’s been speculation that Mr. Trump would launch an independent campaign if he doesn’t win the GOP nomination.

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, accused Mr. Trump immediately of “hedging his bets.”

“He’s already hedging his bets because he’s used to buying politicians,” Mr. Paul said.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump: Political correctness is ‘big problem’ in U.S.

Mr. Trump shot back, “I’ve given you plenty of money.”

The real-estate mogul explained his decision: “I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee. We want to win, and we will win.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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