4. Finally, let me remove all doubt tonight about the possibility that I will run an independent or minor-party campaign for president in 2012. If I fail to win the Republican nomination myself, I fully expect to support the nominee of our party in a vigorous effort to defeat Barack Obama. Until now, I have refused to rule out the notion of an independent candidacy because of my distaste for absolute, categorical pledges, but given the open, fair reception for my candidacy in GOP caucuses and primaries, I pledge to avoid a divisive, disastrous third-party effort that would only guarantee four more years of Democratic misrule. In 1988, while Ronald Reagan still led the nation and the GOP, I left the Republican Party to run as a minor-party candidate, and ended up winning less than half of 1 percent of the national vote. This experience did nothing to advance my ideals—beyond teaching important lessons about the futility of trying to work outside the two-party system.
Leading up to the convention in Tampa, I will continue to campaign vigorously for the nomination and, even more important, make the case for the principles of liberty to which I have devoted my life. If the ultimate nominee of our party embraces those ideals—or even most of them—and simultaneously demonstrates openness to a more realistic, more affordable foreign policy, I will offer that candidate enthusiastic support. Meanwhile, I hope to influence the entire party to make a real commitment to those constitutional ideals not only for the sake of victory in November, but in order to redeem our nation from the disastrous course of recent years.”