Donald Trump issues threat: 'Make me president' -- or supporters will sabotage election
Donald Trump (YouTube)

Donald Trump said there's only one way to stop his supporters from sabotaging the election for Republicans.

As the Republican Party struggles to accept the real estate tycoon and reality TV star's status as frontrunner, the GOP establishment faces the possibility that Trump's fans will destroy the party if he fails to win the presidential nomination.

Hugh Hewitt, a conservative talk radio host and CNN debate moderator, asked Sen. Ted Cruz during Thursday's presidential debate what he would do, if the GOP handed him the nomination, to keep Trump's "very passionate supporters from bolting the convention and sabotaging the fall election."

Trump leaned into the microphone and interrupted.

"Make me president," he said, grinning proudly.

Cruz paused a moment to formulate a comeback as the audience cheered.

"Donald, you are welcome to be president of the Smithsonian," Cruz replied.

The Texas senator was apparently pleased with the comeback, because his campaign highlighted it on Cruz's YouTube page.

"There are some in Washington who are having fever dreams of a brokered convention," Cruz said. "They're unhappy with how the people are voting and they want to parachute in their favored Washington candidate to be the nominee. I think that would be an absolute disaster, and we need to respect the will of the voters. It's one of the reasons why, in the course of this election -- listen, everyone up here has worked very, very hard, but Donald is right: There are only two of us that have a path to winning the nomination, Donald and myself."

"At this point, I have roughly 360 delegates, he has about 100 more than I have," Cruz continued. "We have at this point beaten Donald in eight separate states all over the country, geographically from Maine to Alaska, from Kansas to Texas, all over this country we have beaten him."

Watch the entire exchange posted online by Ted Cruz 2016: