After Donald Trump‘s disastrous last couple of weeks, not just the polls but events seem to be moving quickly against him. First, it was reported that key Republicans close to Trump, such as Newt Gingrich and Rudolf Giuliani, along with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, were going to stage an “intervention” with Trump. Now, however, some Republicans, such as Gingrich and Giuliani, are saying there is no intervention. If not, it may be because Republicans are moving on to the next step. What was almost unthinkable just days ago is now the subject of open speculation: will Republicans try to force Donald Trump out of the presidential race and replace him with someone more palatable? Is that possible? If so, how it would work? Or will Trump get fed up and just quit?
Needless to say, such a massive change as having Donald Trump quit or be forced out of the race this late in the game could cause a “horrible legal quagmire.” While the deadlines for a candidate to withdraw from the ballot and be replaced vary by state, it would likely need to be done this month (e.g., West Virginia by mid-August, Texas by August 26). Likewise, some sources indicate that such withdrawal must be voluntary, i.e., that Trump cannot be forced off the ballot. There’s also the issue of whether electors in some states would still be bound for Trump if he did withdraw. Moreover, Trump leaving the race would be gut-wrenching for the Republican Party, which has already been suffering from a civil war for years. For example, what about the record 13.4 million people who voted for Donald Trump during the primaries? They could decide to riot if their choice is taken away from them. Similarly, if the RNC chooses a replacement other than Ted Cruz, the runner-up in the primaries, or another candidate who ran in the primaries (Marco Rubio, John Kasich, etc.), GOP primary voters would be justified in being extremely angry to the point of mutiny.
The closest thing to the Trump situation may be the Democratic Party’s 1972 presidential campaign. Democratic presidential nominee Sen. George McGovern had to dump his running mate, Sen. Thomas Eagleton, after it was revealed that Eagleton had a history of mental illness that had included a number of hospitalizations and even electric shock therapy. That didn’t end well for the Democrats, as McGovern and his new running mate, Sargeant Shriver, lost the election to the Republicans in one of the biggest landslides in history.
The bigger question is, did Democrats do too good a job attacking Donald Trump over the past couple of weeks? Would Democrats be better off with Trump on the ballot than to have another candidate replace him and try to re-set the presidential race? Should Democrats therefore tone down their attacks on Trump? Is it too late for that? Did President Obama complicate that calculation by calling Trump “unfit to serve as president”? Or is there now consensus that, regardless of the political consequences, Trump just isn’t sane enough to be this close to the presidency? There is much to chew on here.
Photo by Max Goldberg, used under Creative Commons license. https://is.gd/2rgeJJ