The Republican Party is reeling from the aftershocks of the videotape of Donald Trump making vulgar comments about women that surfaced last Friday. Over the weekend, many Republican lawmakers withdrew their support of Trump, and some called on him to withdraw from the race. However, the reality is that the Republicans have nowhere to go.
Fear losing control of Congress
On Monday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced that he would not campaign for Trump nor would he defend Trump, although Speaker Ryan did not withdraw his earlier endorsement. Ryan said that his focus would be on “making sure Hillary Clinton does not get a blank check” if she wins the presidency by putting all his efforts into preventing the Democrats from winning control of Congress.
However, as the day progressed, Ryan faced criticism from many Republicans who feel that Ryan and other Republicans are being premature in giving up on Trump.
Just bad-mouthing our candidate is not acceptable. If you’re saying bad things about your candidate, you might as well be on the other side. — Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.)
There is no realistic scenario for the Republican Party to replace Donald Trump. Even if Donald Trump were to withdraw, which seems totally unlikely, complications would abound in trying to field a new candidate with less than 30 days to the election. Thousands of people have already voted, including President Obama, who posted a picture showing him casting his ballot last Friday.
States control ballot rules
According to CNN Marc Elias, who is the head lawyer for the Clinton campaign, believes there is no way the Republicans can remove Trump from the ballot, even if Trump should withdraw. Elias has said that the states control the ballot rules, not the Republican National Committee, and there is simply not enough time to make a change.
Another scheme that was floated over the weekend was the so-called “Hail Mary” plan where Trump would remain on the ballot, but members of the Electoral College would be encouraged to vote for someone else when they meet in early December to formally cast their votes. However, some states bar the so-called “faithless electors” from voting against the will of the voters, and the plan was quickly declared as unrealistic.
Clinton jumps in polls
Polls, which were already trending in Clinton’s favor before the videotape was released, showed a sharp upturn in support for Clinton over the weekend. The most dramatic was an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted on Saturday and Sunday that showed Clinton jumping to a 14 point lead.
Trump supporters are standing by their man. In a poll done by Politico/Morning Consult over the weekend, 74 percent of Republicans said the party should continue to back Trump. Republicans deserting Trump run the risk of offending their base, particularly if the damage to Trump is not as long lasting or profound as it appears today.
There is an old expression that you have to play that hand that you’re dealt. For the GOP, the only hand they have is Donald Trump, and that’s the one they will have to play out for the next four weeks.