Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump points out to the crowd of supporters as he arrives at a campaign rally on Oct. 4, 2016 in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Ralph Freso/Getty Images
Reaction to the video of Donald Trump using explicit language and apparently describing himself forcing himself on women continues to roll in. And it is not good for the GOP nominee. Prominent backers are calling on him to drop out and Republican elected officials are running from him and fast.
The candidate isn’t backing down, telling the Washington Post’s Robert Costa in an interview today, “I’d never withdraw. I’ve never withdrawn in my life.”
The Post reports, Trump called from his home in Trump Tower and said, “No, I’m not quitting this race. I have tremendous support.”
Certainly has been an interesting 24 hours!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2016
Trump also tweeted, seemingly downplaying the firestorm that has consumed his campaign.
Just to give a sense of how bad things have gotten in the past 24 hours, he’s lost Hugh Hewitt.
For the benefit of the country, the party and his family, and for his own good, @realDonaldTrump should withdraw. More and worse oppo coming
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) October 8, 2016
The conservative talk show host had been a strong supporter of Trump arguing Republicans must back him to get a conservative justice on the Supreme Court.
Carly Fiorina, who lost to Trump in the GOP primary, called for him to step aside and for the Republican Party to run vice president nominee Mike Pence in his place.
My thoughts: pic.twitter.com/1ck3UddzdR
— Carly Fiorina (@CarlyFiorina) October 8, 2016
Add senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), neither of whom endorsed Trump, to the growing list of prominent and elected republicans to get out.
But, this would be significantly easier said than done according to a leading Republican election lawyer.
“People in the GOP are understandably nervous. People are looking for an escape,” Ben Ginsberg told NPR. “The rules don’t provide a ready-made escape. Nor do ballot rules, nor the electoral college. While people are looking for an out, this die was cast in Cleveland.”
Ginsberg, who is a partner at the Jones Day law firm, spoke with the NPR Politics Podcast.
“The RNC rules allow for replacement of a candidate on death or declining the nomination, but no provision for replacing,” said Ginsberg. “At this stage, Donald Trump would have to resign. There’s no way to stage a coup.”
If Trump were to resign, Ginsberg says, the GOP would have to go through a complicated process to nominate a new candidate.
“Under the rules, if there is a vacancy, it doesn’t go to the VP candidate. It’s a matter of rules. It can be anyone. Part of what the RNC would have to do is figure out the nomination rules to see who would be eligible. It’s an all-bets-are-off scenario. There might be a political consensus for Mike Pence, but it is not mandated by the rules,” he said.
But it is four weeks from election day. And the idea of a drawn out fight over the top ticket is almost politically unfathomable.
Elected republicans aren’t waiting. They are now running away from their party’s nominee. Senator Kelly Ayotte who is in a tough race for re-election and never endorsed Trump, now says she won’t vote for him either.
I will not vote for Donald Trump. Read my statement here: pic.twitter.com/F8zajgDZpg
— Kelly Ayotte (@KellyAyotte) October 8, 2016
Congresswoman Martha Roby in deep red Alabama says she can’t support him either.
Donald Trump’s behavior makes him unacceptable as a candidate for president, and I won’t vote for him.
Full statement: pic.twitter.com/Ge7GU1TSvm
— Rep. Martha Roby (@RepMarthaRoby) October 8, 2016
The reason is simple, as seasoned political analyst Stuart Rothenberg put it on twitter, “This certainly raises the possibility of a down-ballot bloodbath for Republicans.”
This certainly raises the possibility of a down-ballot bloodbath for Republicans.
— Stuart Rothenberg (@StuPolitics) October 8, 2016
Trump was initially supposed to attend a rally today in Wisconsin with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Then after the video release, it was announced that Pence would attend in Trump’s place. Now the Trump campaign confirms Pence won’t be attending the rally either.
For elected Republicans, it is rapidly becoming clear that merely rejecting Trump’s remarks isn’t enough. Every one of them can expect to be asked whether they are withdrawing their endorsements and whether they will even vote for their party’s nominee.