US Presidential Elections: Priebus warns against 'suicide' 3rd-party run against Donald Trump

Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, appealed for unity behind 69-year-old Trump in a series of interviews on Sunday television shows and said that "people just don't care" about recent negative reports about his tax returns and his treatment of women.

PTI| Last Updated: May 16, 2016, 19:55 PM IST

Washington: In a major boost to Donald Trump, the Republican Party's boss Reince Priebus has backed him and warned conservatives that it would be a "suicide mission for our country" if they attempted to foist a candidate to run against the presumptive nominee of the party.

Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, appealed for unity behind 69-year-old Trump in a series of interviews on Sunday television shows and said that "people just don't care" about recent negative reports about his tax returns and his treatment of women.

During an appearance on 'Fox News Sunday,' Priebus defended Trump after an article in The New York Times on Saturday in which dozens of women who encountered Trump over his career told of unsettling conduct.

Asked if he was bothered by the accusations in the article, Priebus said: "I don't think Donald Trump in his personal life is something that people are looking at and saying, 'Well, I'm surprised that he has had girlfriends in the past.' That's not what people look at Donald Trump for," he said.

On CBS's 'Face the Nation,' Priebus said that whatever concerns Republicans might have, the party should rally behind Trump and he called efforts to draft a conservative for a third-party campaign a "suicide mission."

"You are not only changing and throwing out eight years of the White House, but you are also throwing out, potentially, generations on the Supreme Court," Priebus said.

He was responding to an article in The Washington Post that outlined efforts among some Republican leaders, dissatisfied with Trump as the party's standard-bearer, to recruit a third candidate to wage an independent bid.

The Post reported that a group of anti-Trump Republicans led by 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and conservative commentator William Kristol had begun recruiting candidates to make an independent run for the White House.

"Look, we could have up to three justices change over in the next eight years, and this is a suicide mission," Priebus said. "It is not right."

He again voiced the argument on his Fox News appearance: "It's a suicide mission for our country, because what it means is that you're throwing down not just eight years of the White House but potentially 100 years on the Supreme Court, and wrecking this country for many generations," he said.

Priebus, who also appeared on ABC's 'This Week,' defended Trump's resistance to releasing his tax returns. Asked if Trump should release his tax returns, Priebus repeated his argument that Trump operated under different political norms.

"I don't think the traditional playbook applies," he said. "We've been down this road for a year. And it doesn't apply. He's rewritten the playbook."

Trump, who has 1,134 delegates in his kitty needs just 103 more to secure the Republian Party's nomination.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton appears closer to the nomination, having secured 2,240 delegates compared to 1,473 by Bernie Sanders.