With his typical showmanship and a hint of the absurd, Donald Trump promised Thursday to forgo an independent bid for the White House if he loses his quest for the Republican nomination, a move that was aimed at easing worries of the party establishment but may only serve to boost his unpredictable, rogue campaign. Standing in the opulent and packed lobby of his Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, Trump held up the document — which was mistakenly dated Aug. 3 instead of Sept. 3. — at a midday news conference and declared he was “pledging allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles for which it stands.” … Republican Party officials circulated the 70-word pledge to all 17 GOP candidates this week, but the effort was aimed squarely at the one leading the pack in most polls. The billionaire celebrity was the only top-tier candidate who would not publicly promise to rule out an independent bid in the general election when he was asked to do so at the first primary debate last month.
… For all its theatrics, the Republican National Committee’s scheme has little practical or legal impact. And Trump’s adherence to it may be as enduring as the first version he waved at the lectern. Election lawyers say the pledge is not legally binding because it does not promise the parties anything in return for their loyalty.
“As a matter of contract law, it doesn’t look like an enforceable contract,” said UC Irvine law professor Richard Hasen, who specializes in election law. “To be a binding contract, they have to be giving something, and what could they give?” Hasen asked.