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Thinking the Impossible: What if Donald Trump drops out?


Now, in a presidential election, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve seen it all. From Marco Rubio ripping Donald Trump’s manhood to Trump connecting Ted Cruz’s father to the assassination of JFK, this year’s primary, plus the race to 270 have both been extremely unconventional. However, a lingering question that’s been brought on by both conservative and liberal media is still around: What if Donald Trump drops out?

Mired in controversy, criticism from the liberal media, and a more-likely-than-ever prospect of a Goldwater-like defeat, Donald Trump’s campaign is in trouble.

Deep, deep trouble.


Republicans, both members of the establishment and conservatives like myself, are panicking. We don’t know what to do as our nominee spirals down a path of no return. Trailing miserably in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and his second home state of Florida, Donald Trump’s campaign has failed to stay on message. Attacking a Gold Star parent whose family made the ultimate sacrifice for our country doesn’t help. Nor does it help by refusing to back the party’s highest-ranked elected official in the nation, Speaker Paul Ryan, who has made it very clear that he wants Trump to be President.

Does Trump even want to be President anymore? His rallies now are lackadaisical, he’s going after fire marshals for saving him from a suspended elevator, and his policies of national security and legal immigration have been all but ignored.

If Donald Trump continues to be stuck on defense, unable to attack Hillary Clinton and make the case for liberty, he will be blown out, even more severely than Barry Goldwater was. The Electoral College was arguably created to prevent a populist like Donald Trump to ever become president. And this time, he might just not have it in him to win.

Trailing Hillary Clinton by 5.8 points nationally, and double digits in some other polls, Donald Trump’s convention bump has all but vanished. While the Democratic political machine is mobilizing its forces, uniting behind Crooked Hillary Clinton, and spreading its wings into the millennial and minority populations, the incompetent Republican Presidential Nominee is quickly losing ground.

Losing friends left and right, Trump and his toxic comments attacking Gold Star father Khazir Khan has made a serious dent in his relationship with veterans and cut into his once-impressive lead with military personnel. In the past, I’d always been supportive of the nominee. Unfortunately, I became a Romney supporter after Rick Santorum dropped out, way back in 2012. I’m not proud of the past, but I think it’s fair to say that Romney’s temperament to be President is much better than that of Trump’s. Let’s put it this way: if you’re the Republican candidate and LOSING in deep-red Utah, you’re doing something very, very wrong. When Newt Gingrich and Krispy Kreme Christy, you’re biggest allies all throughout the primaries and into the convention, come out and say that you are “on a self-destructive path,” you’re doing something very, very wrong.

After detailing Donald Trump’s miserable struggles, the question remains: what if he drops out?

Now, before we discuss the consequences, let’s first discuss if it’s possible for him to drop out.

Rule 9 of the Republican National Committee rules makes it clear that should the party’s presidential or vice presidential candidate leave the ticket for whatever reason, the hole may be filled either by a reconvening of the national convention or by the party committee itself. The vice presidential nominee is not given any preferential consideration.

Oh, well, that answers the question.

Should the committee (aka establishment) choose to fill the vacancy — which looks like the possible outcome because holding another convention is pretty much impossible —, Republican National Committee members representing a given state are entitled to cast the same number of votes as that state was entitled to at the convention. If the RNC members from any state are not in agreement about the casting of their votes, the votes of that state are divided equally among members of the RNC voting.

The final stipulation of the rule is that no candidate may be chosen to fill a vacancy except by receiving a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the RNC election.

While all those rules look and sound extremely confusing, and they are, I’ve come to the conclusion that three things could happen in this situation.

Situation One: The not-so-triumphant return of Ted Cruz.

The runner-up in the primary would seem to be the logical choice if a disastrous situation like this were ever to take place, but it would seriously take a toll on Ted Cruz’s political career. There’s no guarantee whatsoever that Ted Cruz could beat Hillary (lack of funding, extreme lack of campaigning, etc…), and if Ted Cruz loses in 2016 after getting thrown into the fire by his fellow GOPers, he will never, ever again be able to win the Presidency.

It’s that simple.

Losing to Hillary would look even worse than Mitt Romney losing to Obama in 2012. Ted Cruz will lose almost all credibility as a politician if he does not prevail against the most corrupt candidate in recent memory. A Cruz defeat to Hillary Clinton will come close to destroying the Conservative movement and further alienate the conservative population from the Republican party hierarchy.

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

However, if Ted Cruz finds a way to win, he has a chance to salvage the Obama-inflicted damage on the nation over the last eight years. That scenario seems highly, highly unlikely. Ted Cruz’s time will come, but after he dropped out after the Indiana primary, it is very clear that his time isn’t 2016, especially after refusing to endorse Trump at the convention.

Situation Two: The Mike Pence Era

While thrusting Ted Cruz into the fray might effectively end the GOP’s chance of winning the White House in 2016, a Mike Pence ascension to the top of the ticket might have much better consequences, and here’s why.

  1. Mike Pence, Trump’s current VP nominee, is extremely well-liked in the Republican circle, much better liked than Ted Cruz is right now.
  2. His candidacy will be much more legitimate because he’s already been nominated by the RNC to represent the party in November.
  3. In the three weeks of joint campaigning from Trump and Pence, Gov. Pence has shown incredible temperament and ability to answer tough questions with class and intelligence, something his running mate has not been able to do.
  4. Gov. Pence’s incredible record both as Governor and Congressman shatter Hilary Clinton’s utterly empty list of Senatorial accomplishments and disastrous, almost treasonous tenure as Secretary of State.

If Mike Pence is thrown into the race, a highly unlikely but ideal outcome, he will win the White House, and it won’t be close.

Situation Three: Bye Bye GOP

The worst possible situation would be an RINO establishment candidate with no relevancy whatsoever to the 2016 race. The name that comes to mind: Paul Ryan. Speaker Ryan, vying for (an easy) reelection in 2016, would no doubt be the logical establishment choice to fill Trump’s slot in case something crazy happens. That would be the worst possible outcome for our party as it would tell all the voters that their votes don’t mean anything. It would cause Republicans all across the nation to lose faith in the party, and many would obviously leave.  An establishment takeover of the ticket would spell doom for the GOP. With the Democrats more unified than ever behind their candidate, a candidate like Paul Ryan wouldn’t only disenfranchise many voters loyal to the party; it will shatter the very basis of the GOP, causing irreparable damage in the long run.

With the three possible situations to a Trump dropout outlined and dissected, one thing is clear: dropout or not, Donald Trump presidential hopes are in serious, serious crisis.


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]

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