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Why source says Trump will likely rule out independent bid

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WASHINGTON — Republican front-runner Donald Trump is expected to rule out a third-party bid for president Thursday, following a meeting with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in the afternoon.

In recent days, the RNC has circulated a pledge to GOP presidential candidates asking them for their party loyalty and affirm they will not run for president as an independent — a move many seem aimed at Trump.

The plan is for Trump sign the pledge, sources have said, but much is riding on how well the Trump-Priebus 1:30 p.m. meeting goes.

A separate source from inside the Trump campaign told CNN Thursday that the overwhelming number of calls from supporters have been against taking the pledge.

Trump will have a 2 p.m. news conference at Trump Towers following the meeting with Priebus.

Campaign lawyers contacted by CNN pointed out that the pledge is not a legally binding document.

The question of whether Trump might launch an independent candidacy has loomed over his campaign. At last month’s GOP debate, Trump was the only candidate to raise his hand when asked whether they might not support the eventual nominee or be unwilling to rule out a third party bid. Trump has said he wants to win the White House as a Republican, but has previously declined to pledge to run only as a member of the GOP. A third party candidacy by Trump could sink any chance for a Republican to win the White House against Democrats in 2016.

The RNC had in recent days quietly circulated a loyalty pledge to the Republican presidential candidates, requesting they affirm their allegiance to the party.

The pledge was likely aimed at pressuring Trump, who has so far refused to rule out a third-party bid if he does not win the Republican nomination.

A copy of the pledge, obtained by CNN Wednesday, states “I, _______, affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for President of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, regardless of who it is.”

It continues: “I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek to accept the nomination for president of any other party.”

The RNC declined comment Wednesday.