It’s hardly a secret that the GOP party establishment cringed in stark terror at the thought of Donald Trump as its standard bearer. But when he was literally the last man standing after months of bruising GOP presidential debates, wild accusations, charges, digs and slurs at and among the contenders mostly by Trump, the party had to accept the inevitable for worse, not better, that it was stuck with him as its presidential candidate.
The inevitability of Trump was made somewhat palatable by the bitter reality that a lot of people liked him no matter what, and that he remained competitive in the polls with Clinton. That didn’t mean the party regulars liked him, or wanted him, just that they had no choice. .
Trump squeezed the always lurking noose around his neck even tighter with his latest outrage against women. The noose this time almost certainly choked what little presidential winning life that Trump ever had out of him. The party regulars know it, and are scared stiff that not only is he headed for an epic electoral rout but will drag the Senate and a big chunk of the House back to the Democrats. So the choice he has is to quit the race. An always defiant Trump says he won’t. But if he does, and he would likely do it by submitting a letter to the party bigwigs, starting with RNC chair Reince Priebus, stating his withdrawal.
In that case, here’s what the GOP will likely do.
It will invoke Rule 9 of the Republican National Committee’s by-laws and choose the option in it of dragooning all 168 members of the RNC from wherever they are and ask for a quick tally of who the members think would have the best shot of beating Clinton or at the very least avoiding a Gotterdammerung fiery immolation of the Senate and House GOP candidates. The candidate that would get the presidential nod would be the one who got the most votes from the member’s choices and it would probably take a few ballots to get that person.
Now the big problem is time. It’s running out. The fill-in candidate’s name must be submitted to the state’s ballots and get on enough of them to have any shot of bagging the mandatory 270 electoral votes needed to grab the White House. The deadlines for getting on those ballots are just about up. Worse, with absentee ballots being cast weeks before Election Day November 8, it might already be too late to get another name other than Trump on many of them.
The best the GOP can hope for is simply to hope and pray it can do enough with its ground game and resources to keep full strength in the House and sweat out whether it can keep the Senate.
The time and hassle obstacles pretty much guarantee that the likely fill-in candidate would be GOP VP contender Mike Pence. Now the RNC voters don’t have to choose him just because he is the VP candidate, but the time factor, the fact that he got generally high marks for his one debate joust with Democratic VP contender Tim Kaine, and the fact that he’s a GOP party insider, make him a near shoo-in for the fill-in spot.
Barring a smear revelation of even more stunning proportions about Clinton, than Trump got, Pence can’t win. The best the GOP can hope for is simply to hope and pray it can do enough with its ground game and resources to keep full strength in the House and sweat out whether it can keep the Senate.
For the GOP regulars, the millions that from day one found the notion of a President Trump one that even Ripley would howl at the thought of even putting in his Believe it or Not, it’s a sweet deal.