By Bonnie K. Goodman
Republican nominee Donald Trump is facing increased calls that he drop out of the presidential race after an audio recording from 2005 emerged with Trump making lewd comments about women. On Friday, Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 8 Republican leaders called on Trump to apologize for the remarks about groping women and attempting to seduce a married woman. Republican leaders repudiated his remarks. Many GOP leaders expressed their condemnation, withdrew their support and endorsements. Some are even calling on him to drop out of the race so that vice presidential nominee Indiana Governor Mike Pence could become the official nominee. Trump, however, is vowing to “never withdraw.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was the first to respond with a statement, saying, “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever.” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan condemned Trump’s remarks saying he was “sickened” by them and withdrew from his first joint campaign appearance with the GOP nominee.
Trump’s vice presidential nominee issued a statement condemning the remarks. Pence said, “As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the eleven-year-old video released yesterday. I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.” Pence said, however, “I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people. We pray for his family and look forward to the opportunity he has to show what is in his heart when he goes before the nation tomorrow night.”
Even Trump’s wife Melania issued a statement, condemning the comments but asked voters to forgive him. Mrs. Trump said, the “words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me. This does not represent the man that I know. He has the heart and mind of a leader.” Continuing she said, she hopes “people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”
By Saturday afternoon, according to Five Thirty Eight, 18 Republicans who supported Trump withdrew their endorsements, while 19 are calling for him to withdraw from the race. Of the Republicans withdrawing their support, there are seven senators and nine members of Congress. The eight senators are “Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Dennis Dauggard of South Dakota, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Mike Crapo of Idaho, John Thune of South Dakota, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and John McCain of Arizona.”
The nine members of Congress include, “Alabama Reps. Martha Roby and Bradley Byrne, Nevada Reps. Joe Heck and Cresent Hardy, Missouri Reps. Rodney Davis and Ann Wagner, Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey, and Utah Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart. Three of those withdrawing support come from Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, and Rep. Chris Stewart.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rep. Mia Love of Utah both were not committed to trump before, but now say they will not vote for him.
There are many more Republicans that have condemned Trump’s remarks but have not yet withdrawn support and claim they will not vote for him. Among those repudiating Trump’s comments are “Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John McCain of Arizona, David Perdue of Georgia, Rob Portman of Ohio, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.” Additionally the House leadership team has made their opposition known, and they include “Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.”
There are also a growing number of Republicans that are calling for Trump to withdraw from the race so that Pence can become the nominee, they include party members that have opposed Trump or refused to support him. They include, “Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, as well as Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, and Rep. Frank Upton of Michigan.”
Amid the entire backlash, Trump is staying steadfast and vowing never to withdraw from the race. On Saturday morning, Trump told The Washington Post, who published the story about his 2005 comments, “I’d never withdraw. I’ve never withdrawn in my life. No, I’m not quitting. I have tremendous support.” The GOP nominee was resolute, “They’re not going to make me quit, and they can’t make me quit.”
Trump also spoke to The Wall Street Journal there is “zero chance I’ll quit,” he reiterated that same remark to The Washington Post, “Zero chance. I’ve never quit in my life. I can give you my word that I’m never leaving.” Later Saturday afternoon Trump tweeted, “The media and establishment want me out of the race so badly – I WILL NEVER DROP OUT OF THE RACE, WILL NEVER LET MY SUPPORTERS DOWN! #MAGA”
With only a month left in the campaign, it would be difficult if not impossible for the Republican Party to replace Trump on the ballots. The Republican National Committee has rules regarding replacements of nominees. Rule 9 reads: “The Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise of the Republican candidate for President of the United States or the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States, as nominated by the national convention, or the Republican National Committee may reconvene the national convention for the purpose of filling any such vacancies.”
Many of the state deadlines have passed, and there is advanced voting going on all over the country. The RNC is meeting to discuss possibly replacing Trump, and they have suspended victory operations. Recent history has not been kind to replacing nominees although it has often happened unsuccessfully and rarely successfully. Only two times in American history has a vice presidential candidate been substituted and therefore did not appear on the ballot, 1912 and 1972 for the Republican and Democratic tickets respectively although neither won. In the end, Republicans find saving the Senate majority more important, and will probably let Trump “sink or swim” as they did the losing Bob Dole in 1996. Nonetheless, Clinton unofficially won the presidency on Oct. 7, 2016, is seems impossible that Trump would win the only question remains by how much will he lose?