Donald Trump Says He Won't Run For President As A Third-Party Candidate

But that could change.

A major fear for Republicans has been that businessman Donald Trump would run as an independent in the general election next year, splitting the vote and all but assuring a Democratic victory.

Though Trump signed a pledge in September not to mount an independent bid, those close to the candidate have suggested that he would consider reneging on the promise if he felt disrespected by the Republican Party's leadership.

During Tuesday's debate, Trump said he was "totally committed to the Republican Party" when moderator and radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Trump to reassure Republicans that he wasn't still contemplating an independent bid.

"I've gained great respect for the Republican leadership," he said. "I've gained great respect for, in different forms, people on the dais ... I have great respect for the people I've met through this process."

Republicans may remain suspicious of Trump's resolve, since he flirted with the prospect of leaving the party as recently as late November, when he gave a much less definitive answer as to whether he would rule out an independent bid. Then, he said, "We'll see what happens," and "If I’m treated fairly, I’m fine." 

See the latest updates on the GOP debate here.

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