How to dump Trump? Pundits, academics and political junkies looking for the answer

No one should expect anything less, this U.S. presidential election, than a dramatic standoff over Donald Trump and his place in the Party that nominated him. As leaders distance themselves from their controversial presidential nominee, some pressing him to withdraw, it has sent pundits, academics and political junkies raking through history books, party rules, the Constitution, election laws and what-if fantasies for an answer to how do you solve a problem like Donald? The short answer? Not easily; no presidential candidate for either party has ever been replaced after securing the nomination. That hasn’t stemmed the flow of some ideas, as the National Post’s Adrian Humphreys reports.

1) Get Trump to quit

Early fury over remarks led some to hope Trump might withdraw from the race of his own accord. Many expected this each step of his would-be path to the White House.

It is increasingly unlikely. The bombastic candidate himself vowed, in all capital letters, to continue full-steam ahead, saying “I WILL NEVER DROP OUT OF THE RACE, WILL NEVER LET MY SUPPORTERS DOWN,” on Twitter. He added his battle with his own party’s leadership allows him to finish the without interference: “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”

Hope of a graceful Trump exit seems hopeless.

2) Republicans force him out

Searching the GOP rules for a way to remove Trump, most pundits look to Rule 9 or Rule 12. Rule 9 allows the Republican National Committee to replace a vacancy in the case of “death, declination, or otherwise.”

Richard Hasen, a leading expert on U.S. election law, says this is a non-starter: “The Republican Party’s rules do not an easy path to replacing a candidate on the ballot who hasn’t withdrawn or died or become incapacitated. The rules for the RNC to fill a vacancy. If Trump then there is no vacancy.”

David Kohl/AFP/Getty Images
David Kohl/AFP/Getty ImagesDonald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on Oct. 13, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rule 12, though, says the RNC can amend its rules, but time is prohibitive, says Josh Putnam, a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the University of Georgia.

“There just isn’t enough time to pull it off,” says Putnam. “It isn’t that the RNC can’t, it is that there isn’t time.” There are rules on notice for such a motion and lag time before changes take effect. The RNC would also have to agree on an alternative, which looks difficult in a divisive environment. The ballots with Trump’s name have already been printed in many states and early voting has begun.

It would also really upset Trump’s supporters, says Hasen.

“Many of the Republican base still support Donald Trump and if the Republican National Committee, when you have maybe two-thirds of Republican core voters who don’t want them to, they are going to face a terrible wrath. So they’re not going to do it.”

3) An Electoral College rebellion

Under the U.S. Constitution, voters on election day are not technically the next president of , they are electing members of the Electoral College who in turn cast their ballots for their state. They’re supposed to reflect how their state voted. But what if they ignored that expectation? It’s called “faithless electors.”

If Trump wins enough states to equal the needed 270 Electoral College majority, could the electors in those states then place their votes for someone else? Not Hillary Clinton, that would be beyond fantasy, but for another GOP option, such as former candidate Mitt Romney, or vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence? Technically it could happen, but it won’t, say experts.

Some states have laws against it, and not everyone in the party is abandoning Trump — he has strong grassroots support; it is also hard to imagine such a bold, across-the-board declaration for the same alternate candidate.

“It all seems so strange as to be pure fantasy,” Edward Foley, professor of law at Ohio State University and author of Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States, wrote in Politico. “But think back before this presidential election. So much of what has transpired would have been dismissed as lunacy if any one had dared to predict what actually has happened.”

4) Starve him out

Campaigns run on money and there now seems a move by Republicans unsatisfied with Trump — or at least with Trumps chances — to move their money elsewhere, away from the presidential race.

“They can starve him for money, that seems to be what they are at least contemplating doing,” says Hasen. “To cut your losses and keep the House and Senate. Right now, the betting is very high that . It is reasonably high that if badly that the Senate is going to go Democratic, and if it goes terribly, the Republicans can lose the House. So I think they are in full damage control mode.” Republican leaders are eyeing the battles downstream.

But if Trump’s brilliant business deals and extravagant bankroll is to be believed, then there have been few other candidates recently who could carry on without the party’s financial support. He has already made an issue out of being vastly outspent by Clinton. If it doesn’t prompt him to withdraw, it might help bring about the last — most likely — scenario.

5) Leave it to the voters

Democracy will likely settle the issue all on its own.

“I any of this to happen,” says Hasen of the various scenarios.

“I don’t expect Trump to withdraw. I don’t expect the RNC to try to replace him if he doesn’t withdraw. I expect Hillary Clinton to get a majority in the electoral college.”

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About Adrian Humphreys