Maddow: Trump Signing GOP Pledge Is 'A Giant Screwup'

The threat of running as a third-party candidate gave the reality TV star a lot of leverage.

Rachel Maddow can’t figure out why Donald Trump just signed a pledge not to run as a third-party candidate.

“It's given him this great leverage to make the Republican Party be nice to him -- to not block him in his campaign,” Maddow said on her MSNBC program Thursday. “The basic question here is, you know, if you're Donald Trump, why do you change now?”

The reason the Trump campaign has given is that doing so inoculated the Republican presidential candidate from criticism of the type he weathered at the beginning of the first debate. But as Maddow pointed out, that criticism made no dent in Trump’s popularity.

“Whatever criticism Donald Trump might have faced for threatening to leave the Republican Party and run on his own … the criticism has not been working,” Maddow said.

Finally, she had to conclude, it was just a mistake.

“Honestly, what this looks like strategically is a giant screwup -- a beautiful, giant, classy, huge screwup,” Maddow said.

Gabriel Arana is senior media editor at The Huffington Post.