Can Pence Replace Trump If Donald Trump Quits The Presidential Race Before The Election?

The unprecedented chaos in the Republican Party over the last 48 hours has many people asking can Mike Pence replace Trump if Donald Trump decides to quit the presidential race prior to election day. At this juncture, any number of Republican leaders would be happy to have virtually anyone replace Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

As reported by the AP, Senator John McCain of Arizona today withdrew his support for Donald Trump, suggesting that Trump’s comments about women, race and any number of other subjects made it impossible to continue supporting him. In addition, a host of other prominent Republicans made it clear that they would greatly prefer it if Donald Trump would simply quit.

No doubt, dumping Trump might seem like an effective way to limit damage to the party. Unfortunately for those hoping to sever Donald Trump’s fate from that of the Republicans, there are considerable – and probably insurmountable – obstacles to removing Trump at the head of the ticket and replacing him at the ballot box with Governor Mike Pence.

Donald Trump's vice presidential running mate Mike Pence, governor of Indiana.
Donald Trump's vice presidential running mate Mike Pence, governor of Indiana. [Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

One of the principal problems for those hoping they can replace Donald Trump with Pence is that Trump has made it quite clear that he doesn’t want to quit and has no intention of doing so. Certainly, Trump has been perfectly willing to wade through any number of scandals and disasters in the past, so his ego probably tells him he can muddle through this one as well.

Given this obstacle, it might seem that the next step is for the Republican Party elites to move forward with whatever procedures or measures are necessary to oust Donald Trump from the ticket – whether he wants to quit or not. But again, there are major problems with this.

As noted by CNN, while there are provisions in Republican Party rules for replacing a candidate who is dead, incapacitated or unwilling to serve, there are currently no rules in place to remove a candidate that the party no longer wants but who refuses to quit. If Donald Trump won’t resign from his current position as presidential nominee of the Republican Party, it’s not entirely clear there is any way to compel him to do so.

On the other hand, even if there were such rules in place in the Republican Party structure, it really wouldn’t solve the party’s problem with Donald Trump. This is because they have simply waited far too long to do anything about the nightmarish threat that Trump currently poses to them in the upcoming election.

It’s just no longer possible to place a new candidate on the ballots in all the states – or perhaps even in any of them. The Republicans could – if they had measures in place for doing so – technically remove Donald Trump as the Republican Party nominee for president, but this would not prevent the vast majority of voters from being forced to vote for or against Trump.

It also wouldn’t make Pence the alternative. At this point, even a superbly organized and implemented write in campaign for Pence – or some other Republican – would be doomed to failure. Of course, there is another point to consider.

It seems obvious that Trump is going to lose the upcoming election and lose it badly. But it’s not entirely clear that Governor Mike Pence – even if he can replace Donald Trump – could avoid a disaster of his own. It’s unlikely that – in the short period of time leading up to the November 8 election – Pence can mount a serious challenge to Hillary Clinton.

[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]