It took just a few minutes for the first GOP 2016 debate to get testy. Fox News’ Bret Baier started off the night by asking the 10 Republicans on the main-stage event whether they would pledge to support whoever wins the Republican nomination and guarantee that they wouldn’t run an independent bid next fall.
Everyone knew the answer in advance. When Wallace asked the candidates to raise their hand if they wouldn’t take that pledge, current frontrunner Donald Trump—who has previously said he would consider a third-party presidential bid if he lost the GOP nomination—predictably raised his hand. “I cannot say I have to respect the person if it’s not me,” Trump said.
“I want to run as the Republican nominee,” he continued, saying he wouldn’t run as an independent—just so long as he’s the one who wins the nomination, an outcome that he sees as a foregone conclusion.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) quickly pounced. “He buys and sells politicians of all stripes,” Paul jumped in, noting Trump’s past donations to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.
The moderators were teed up to put Trump in the hot seat from the start. Soon after that first question, Fox’s Megyn Kelly questioned Trump on whether he could run against Hillary Clinton in the general election given his litany of disparaging comments against women. “It was only Rosie O’Donnell,” Trump tried to interrupt Kelly, earning loud applause from the crowd in Cleveland. And even then, it was all just “fun” and “kidding,” in Trump’s assessment. “I don’t have time for total political correctness,” Trump said. “To be honest with you, this country doesn’t either.”
Keep doing you, Donald.