Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Sunday that a third-party candidacy in 2016 presidential election "would be a death wise to both parties."
Some have speculated that Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, could mount a third-party challenge.
In an interview with Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Priebus stressed the importance of party loyalty, saying that potential Republican nominees must “agree that a Republican would be better than a Democrat running on the other side and that you wouldn't run as a third party.”
Priebus predicted a quick nomination process for the GOP.
“We're going to have a nominee probably by the end of March or the beginning of April,” said Priebus. As a result, he believes that the electorate will see a unified Republican Party by the end of the nomination process.
“Candidates ought to support, on our side, the Republican nominee, if it's not them, and they ought to pledge not to run as a third party.”
Priebus also defended his party’s debate selection process. When asked about the role of national polling in winnowing the current field of candidates, Priebus dismissed concerns that national poll numbers unfairly denied opportunity to several candidates.
"National polling's always been determinative of these debates,” said Priebus.
The GOP emphasized that all candidates in the race will have an opportunity to voice their positions on Thursday night.
“All seventeen candidates ... are going to be participating in debate night. So everyone's going to have an opportunity, and I think that's wonderful for our party.”
When asked about Trump’s effect on the image of the Republican Party, Priebus made a distinction between Trump’s individual positions and those of the party itself, saying, “I don't think it hurts.”
“Donald Trump speaks for Donald Trump,” said Priebus. “So, no, I don't think it has anything to do with the Republican Party.”