It’s been the issue that’s hung over the the Republican race: Would Donald Trump consider running as an independent if he doesn’t win the GOP nomination? He’s left the door open in recent days, but at Tuesday’s debate, he seemed to shut it again.

Asked by Hugh Hewitt whether he was ready to assure the party he would abide by the decision of Republican voters and not run as an independent, Trump said, “I really am, I’ll be honest,” drawing applause from the GOP crowd.

“I’ve gained great respect for the Republican leadership,” Trump said, adding that he also respected his rivals “in different forms.”

A recent USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll found that 68% of Trump supporters would back him if he left the GOP.

“I am totally committed to the Republican Party. I feel very honored to be the front-runner,” Trump said.

The billionaire real estate developer signed a pledge earlier in the campaign that he would support the GOP nominee before later hinting he might leave his options open, so the party may not be celebrating quite yet that they’ve completely averted an independent bid that could divide Republican voters in November.

As for Ben Carson, who indicated he’d leave the party amid reports of a brokered convention, the retired neurosurgeon said he’d been told by party chairman Reince Priebus that those reports were erroneous.

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