Republican nominee Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016.
Former President Donald Trump said he would not sign the loyalty pledge that is a requirement for participating in the upcoming first Republican presidential primary debate.
Trump has already met the other criteria, including meeting minimum donor and polling thresholds, to participate in the debate set for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee.
But Trump, the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination, said Wednesday night that he would not sign a candidate pledge agreeing to support the eventual party nominee, no matter who it is.
“I wouldn’t sign the pledge. Why would I sign a pledge if there are people on there that I wouldn’t have?” Trump asked in an interview on Newsmax.
“So they want you to sign a pledge, but I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for President. So right there there’s a problem,” Trump said.
The former president has repeatedly signaled he plans to skip the debates, arguing that there was no point in exposing himself to a barrage of attacks from his rivals who are far behind him in the polls.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s nearest competitor in the primary field, announced Wednesday that he had signed the GOP loyalty pledge.
Asked on Wednesday night if he would join the debate, Trump said, “I’ll let it be known next week.”
“But look, I’m leading by 50 and 55 points over DeSanctimonious,” Trump said, deploying one of the derisive nicknames he has used for the governor. Trump also claimed he was “leading by a lot” over President Joe Biden in the polls.
During his first presidential campaign, Trump initially refused to sign a similar pledge in 2015 before eventually relenting. Several months later, once the GOP field had been whittled down to just Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump went back on his pledge.
“No I don’t,” Trump said in response to a question in March about whether he intended to keep his promise to the party.