What if Donald Trump Just Quits the Presidential Race?
Young people think there was never anything like Donald Trump. There was. In 1992, a wiry rascal billionaire named Ross Perot decided to fund himself and run for president, despite not having political experience. A lot of people liked his plain talk and his explanations. He was known for setting up charts on easels, so you could actually see what he was talking about. All the news was about him that summer, but at the peak of his popularity, he pulled out of the race.
His explanation was that there was a threat against his family, and he dropped out to save them. But his “Reform Party” just went into limbo. (He did change his mind and begin campaigning again, and there was no effort to replace him since, frankly it was “his” party.)
The question this year is Trump’s staying power, as he becomes more and more frustrated by events and responses to his words and actions. Remember that Trump’s Pal Sarah Palin became bored with being governor and just up and resigned.
Actually, before that, there was also talk about replacing Palin on the national ticket in 2008.
Could we see a case in which Trump says the race is rigged, so he refuses to participate?
It’s reported that senior GOP officials are exploring the possibility. It wouldn’t be totally unprecedented. In 1972, Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate was found to have struggled with depression earlier in life, and many thought he should quit. Presidential Candidate George McGovern famously said he was behind Eagleton “1000 percent,” and Eagleton is shown here fighting to stay on the ticket.
But on July 31, Eagleton resigned, and was replaced by Kennedy In-Law Sergeant Shriver by a special meeting of the DNC on August 8. He was clearly forced out. Could that happen this year?
Republican officials are exploring how to handle a scenario that would be unthinkable in a normal election year: What would happen if the party’s presidential nominee dropped out?
ABC News has learned that senior party officials are so frustrated — and confused — by Donald Trump’s erratic behavior that they are exploring how to replace him on the ballot if he drops out.
So how would it work?
First, Trump would have to voluntarily exit the race. Officials say there is no mechanism for forcing him to withdraw his nomination. . . Then it would be up to the 168 members of the Republican National Committee to choose a successor, though the process is complicated.
There’s even a rule for that.
Rule No. 9: Filling Vacancies in Nominations
(a) The Republican Party rules states that “the Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise. . .[emphasis added] (b) . . .any state shall be entitled to cast the same number of votes as said state was entitled to cast at the national convention.
(c) [If] any state shall not be in agreement in the casting of votes hereunder, the votes of such state shall be divided equally. . .
(d) No candidate shall be chosen to fill any such vacancy except upon receiving a majority. . .
Meanwhile, there is also discussion of “pushing” Trump, if he doesn’t jump off the campaign train. Again, there are rules.
[Suppose]. . .Trump were to really cross some line, whatever that might be, and GOP leaders decide they can’t support him anymore. Nor do they just want to disown the Republican nominee; suppose they want him off the ballot. Could they do it?
I asked Nathaniel Persily, Stanford law professor and a pre-eminent scholar of election law. . .what would happen if Trump were. . .formally dumped by the GOP. . .
1. Party Rules. . . But notice that weasel-word “otherwise” in the RNC rules. That basically allows the RNC to come up with any reason to declare the spot vacant. For example, they could, following President Obama, deem him unfit for office – as in, mentally unfit. Or they could hold a vote of no confidence. No doubt, if Trump is fighting them, that would be a bumpy road, possibly involving litigation. It might be easier for leaders to endorse Gary Johnson and move on. But because of that word “otherwise,” it’s likely within the RNC’s power to dump Trump even without his consent. Then they would be able to fill the “vacancy” by majority vote.
2. State Party Rules. . . Right now, Donald Trump’s name is set to appear on the ballots of 50 states. “So you have questions about ballot access,” Persily said. “There are deadlines in the state laws and that’s a state-by-state finding.”. . .
Now, just because someone’s on the ballot doesn’t mean they are necessarily in the running. There have been congressional races in which candidates have died while on the ballot. In New York, for example, veteran Congressman Ted Weiss passed away shortly before the 1992 election. Democrats hastily nominated Assemblyman Jerrold Nadler, and even though voters cast their ballots for Weiss, Nadler received the votes.
3. Electoral College Rules. . . The question, Persily explains, is whether state electors are pledged to the individual candidate, or to the party that nominated him or her. “Would Donald Trump’s electors be able to vote for someone else in the Electoral College? Most states say yes—you vote for whoever the party has nominated.”
In sum, right up until Nov. 7, the Republican Party could dump Trump by declaring him unfit for office, reconvening, and nominating someone else. But it would get messier depending on how long they wait.
If Trump withdraws, there’s really no problem, legally speaking, even at the last minute. While his name would be on the ballot, electors would vote for the party’s actual nominee, or courts would declare Trump no longer the “candidate.”
It’s probably not likely. The only scenario that could cause Trump to quit is if he is so far behind that he would meet humiliating defeat. He could avoid defeat by saying he refuses to participate in a rigged system. But that would rely on Trump accepting negative news (polls) about him. He usually denies or “reinterprets” bad news to his advantage.