Washington: Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump suggested Sunday that he would be open to running for president as an independent if he concludes Republicans aren’t treating him “fairly.”The real-estate tycoon made his comments on ABC when asked about wall Street article that reported an effort by Republican establishment figures to unite to knock Mr. Trump out of the race.The group plans a “guerrilla campaign” backed by secret donors to “defeat and destroy” his candidacy, the Journal reported.The notion of an independent Trump bid worries many Republicans, who fear he would siphon votes from the GOP nominee and help elect a Democrat.Asked if he would reconsider his vow not to run as an independent, Mr. Trump didn’t give a direct answer. “Well, we’ll see what happens,” he said. “It will be very interesting. But I’m leading every poll by a lot. It’s not even a little bit anymore, it’s a lot.”
Nationally, Mr. Trump is favored by 27.5% of Republican voters, according to the survey, with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 19.8% and Florida Sen. Marc Robio at 12.5%.Asked again if he was open to an independent run, he repeated, “Well, I’m going to have to see what happens. I will see what happens. I have to be treated fairly. You know, when I did this, I said I have to be treated fairly. If I’m treated fairly, I’m fine. All I want…is a level playing field.”Mr. Trump’s loyalty to the GOP was questioned after the first Republican presidential debate in August, when he was the only candidate unwilling to promise support for the party’s eventual nominee. He put those questions to rest in September when he signed a GOP loyalty pledge, vowing not to run as an independent.Allison Moore, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said: “All of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination have pledged to run as Republicans and support the nominee.”Democrats were outright gleeful at the prospect of an independent Trump run next fall.“The GOP can be very mean. If the Donald’s feelings are hurt by them, he absolutely should run as an independent!” said Democratic consultant Hilary Rosen.
Mr. Trump also said he would bring back waterboarding, the controversial interrogation technique that simulates drowning and that is considered torture by many. President Obama barred waterboarding and other techniques at the start of his presidency.To justify his view, Mr. Trump cited brutal acts by Islamic State. “They don’t use waterboarding over there; they use chopping off people’s heads,” he said on ABC. “I would bring it back. I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’d do to us, what they’re doing to us, what they did to [journalist] James Foley when they chopped off his head. That’s a whole different level and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation.”Opponents say the U.S. has an obligation to hold itself to a higher standard than its enemies do and that torture is ineffective and undermines American values.
Mr. Trump also repeated his claim, forcefully denied by authorities, that “thousands of people were cheering” in Jersey City, N.J., when the World Trade Center towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001. He made that claim at a Saturday rally.ABC’s George Stephanopoulos told him that police say that never happened and that this has long been just an Internet rumor, but Mr. Trump didn’t back down.“It did happen. I saw it….It was on television,” he said. “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as…those buildings came down.”