- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 22, 2015

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump hinted Sunday that he is willing to retreat from a pledge he signed in September to support the Republican nominee and forgo an independent run if he fails to grab the 2016 nomination.

The pledge had been welcome news for the Republican National Committee, which had sought more control over the nomination race and moved to lock down Mr. Trump’s allegiance after he had suggested that he was not prepared to support whoever wins the GOP nomination race.

“I’m going to have to see what happens. I will see what happens. I have to be treated fairly,” Mr. Trump told ABC’s “This Week.” “When I did this, I said I have to be treated fairly. If I’m treated fairly, I’m fine. All I want to do is [have] a level playing field.”

Mr. Trump, whose outsider run has stunned the Republican establishment, basked Sunday in the glow of a new Washington Post/ABC News poll that has him leading the 2016 field. He garnered 32 percent of support, ahead of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 22 percent.

“I’m leading every poll by a lot,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s not even a little bit anymore — it’s a lot.”

The rest of field barely cracked double digits, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 11 percent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 8 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 6 percent.

Mr. Trump’s bluntness generated more headlines over the weekend. He said Syrian refugees should not be allowed into the U.S., but added that he would at least want a database of those who do make it in through the U.S. vetting system — a clarification of remarks that suggested he wanted a database of all Muslims in the U.S.

“We have no idea who these people are,” Mr. Trump said. “We don’t know if they’re ISIS, we don’t know if it’s a Trojan horse.”

He also called for surveillance of certain U.S. mosques, arguing that New York City officials were essentially doing that in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

And he said he would be OK with waterboarding, despite widespread condemnation of the interrogation technique during former President George W. Bush’s tenure.

“I would bring it back, yes,” Mr. Trump said, citing the Islamic State’s brutality. “I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’re doing to us.”

Yet he was evasive about whether someone on a terrorism watch list should be able to buy a gun, declining to directly answer the question.

“If somebody is on a watch list, I would keep ‘em away, absolutely,” he said.

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