- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus said Monday that he’s not worried about Donald Trump eventually running for president as an independent.

“I don’t see that happening,” Priebus said in a nationally broadcast interview. He added that it is universally felt in party circles that “if Hillary Clinton is going to get beat, she has to get beat by a Republican.”

Of speculation that the billionaire real estate executive and TV celebrity might run as an independent, Priebus told the NBC “Today” show, “I think you’ve seen Donald Trump walk that back the last few days.”

Priebus also was asked about Trump’s standing at the top of many polls. “I thnk he’s speaking out to people that are really frustrated with Washington,” the RNC chairman replied.

“I do agree that tone matters and how you speak matters,” Priebus said.

Priebus also said provisions have been made to ensure that the half-dozen Republican aspirants who don’t make the cut for the party’s first debate on Aug. 6 will have an opportunity for a face off on their own on the same day in a debate to precede the 10-person event.

Priebus said the party had too many debates for the 2012 election, adding that “we’ve taken control of the debates.”

“Every candidate is going to be able to compete on debate night,” he said. Priebus wondered aloud why there hadn’t been more discussion among pundits about why the Democratic Party hasn’t announced a debate involving Clinton and her rivals.

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This story has been corrected to delete reference to RNC setting rules for the debate.

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