The idea that anyone would run an arduous presidential campaign for the better part of two years only to quit if he wins might seem ridiculous, but Donald Trump indicated in a recent interview that he might do just that.
Pundits have speculated as to the seriousness of Trump’s candidacy since day one, but he proved many of them wrong by defeating the entirety of the crowded Republican field.
Now that Trump is the presumptive nominee, the new theory is that he doesn’t actually want to be president and that he will either sabotage his own campaign or simply quit if he wins the presidency.
this is one way to raise money. suggest you might quit after winning the presidency. https://t.co/vlErmY9AMg
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) July 8, 2016
Asked point blank by the New York Times whether he would actually quit if he wins, Trump refused to rule it out.
“I’ll let you know how I feel about it after it happens,” Trump said when asked if he would actually quit if he wins.
Throughout his winning campaign, Trump has enjoyed a tremendous amount of coverage from the media. So while his statement could be taken at face value, it is also possible that the decision to answer the question of whether he would quit after winning with a wink and a nod, rather than an outright denial, is merely an attempt to stir up controversy and draw additional media coverage.
After asking Trump whether or not he would quit if he wins the presidency, the New York Times brought the subject to former Romney adviser and sharp Trump critic Stuart Stevens.
Stuart told the Times that Trump is “a con man who is shocked his con hasn’t been called,” and perpetuated the rumor that the Republican front-runner is eager to quit, either before or after winning the presidential race.
“He has no sense of how to govern,” Stevens told the Times. “He can’t even put together a campaign.”
Trump may not be able to put together a campaign that measures up to the personal standards of Stewart Stevens, but he did make it through a contentious Republican primary, and he will soon face off against presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s victory over Clinton is far from a certain thing, especially since she leads in many key polls, but the idea that he could quit if he does actually win raises the question of who would take over as president.
While the presidential line of succession is clear, Trump quitting if he wins could actually create a very complicated situation.
If Trump won the presidency and then waited to quit until after the swearing-in ceremony, his running mate would clearly take over. However, quitting at any point between winning and being sworn in could lead to a number of different outcomes.
The Electoral College would decide the next president if Trump quit after winning but before they gather to cast their ballots on December 19. At that point, the electors would be free to vote for the candidates of their choosing. This could potentially result in a situation where the Republican electors split between several candidates, while the Democrat electors cast their votes for Hillary Clinton as planned.
If Clinton was able to secure a majority of the electoral votes in that situation, she would win the presidency.
In a more likely scenario, with no single candidate receiving a majority of the votes, the House of Representatives would select a winner from the top three names to emerge from the Electoral College vote. The vice president would then be selected by the Senate.
The situation would become even more complicated if Trump chose to quit after winning the Electoral College ballot.
While it is likely that the vice president-elect would take over, it would be a completely new territory.
“Nothing like this has ever happened,” Alexander Keyssar, a Harvard historian and Electoral College expert, told the Times.
Do you believe that Donald Trump might actually quit if he wins, or was he just trying to draw more media coverage by refusing to deny the accusation?
[Photo by John Minchillo/AP Images]