- The Washington Times - Monday, July 27, 2015

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Monday he doesn’t see Donald Trump launching a third-party candidacy if he doesn’t secure the 2016 GOP presidential nomination — though he said Republican candidates should pledge not to do so.

“My job is not to call balls and strikes but to treat everyone respectfully and fairly, but certainly, I think our candidates should pledge not to run as a third-party candidate. I don’t see that happening. I think everyone understands that if Hillary Clinton’s going to get beat, she’s going to get beat by a Republican, and most people that run for president run to win,” Mr. Priebus said on NBC’s “Today” show. “And if our candidates want to win, then they’ll have to run as a Republican. But I don’t fear that. And I think you’ve even seen Donald Trump walk that back over the last few days as well.”

In a recent interview with The Hill newspaper, Mr. Trump said he might launch an independent bid if he felt he was being treated unfairly by Republicans, but he has since credited the RNC for reaching out to him in recent days.

Mr. Priebus said that while it’s early, Mr. Trump, who was in first in a CNN/ORC poll on the 2016 GOP field released Sunday, is “speaking out to people that are really frustrated with Washington — frustrated, I think in many cases, with both parties.”

Mr. Priebus said with so many candidates, you’re going to see a lot of shifting around in the polls.

“It’s going to be a long process. I think we’ve got a varsity squad out on the field,” he said. “What I’m excited about is the fact that a lot of our candidates are already beating Hillary Clinton in the important states. That’s important … because Hillary Clinton’s at a hundred percent name ID and our candidates are already beating her.”

Asked if he’s concerned Mr. Trump might cause some long-term damage to the Republican brand, Mr. Priebus said he thinks people understand that everyone speaks for themselves, “but I do agree that tone matters and how you speak matters.”

“It’s kind of like what our moms all told us: Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” he said. “I think most people understand that.”

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