Taboo tape may torment Trump, but it won’t torpedo his candidacy


Josh Jones

The Washington Post reported earlier this week on the Trump tape.

Jason Zappulla, Writer


On Friday, the Washington Post released audio with Donald Trump on an Access Hollywood bus making lewd comments on women (comments which unfortunately cannot be reprinted by this site). The fallout from this revelation was almost instantaneous, as dozens of Republican officials rescinded their support of Trump, with some even calling for him to leave the race. With all these events going on, it’s worth wondering if this tape really could lead to Trump’s withdrawal. And if it doesn’t, could it still affect the presidential campaign with only about a month until Election Day?

Firstly, despite the calls for the Republican presidential nominee to step down, according to the Washington Post, removing Donald Trump from the ticket would be all but impossible at this point: the deadline for candidates to register to appear on the ballot has already passed in many states, and according to Republican Party rules, replacing Donald Trump would require a majority of the party Rules Committee and a majority of party members, a process that would be both slow and not guaranteed to be successful. Some, like Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, suggested writing-in Trump’s vice-presidential running mate Mike Pence of Indiana instead of voting for Trump, but a write-in campaign on a nationwide scale would be difficult to coordinate and agree upon on with the tens of millions of Republican voters in November. While there are regional example of successful write-in campaigns (for example, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska’s successful write-in reelection campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2010), these are incomparable in terms of numbers to the national election: while Murkowski won her Senate race in 2010 with a little over 100,000 votes out of 255,962 votes cast, Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election and got 59,142,004 votes out of 126 million votes cast.

So, with removing Donald Trump from the ticket being an unrealistic option, how else could Republican leadership express their dissatisfaction with Donald Trump? Some could go the route of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, who said he would no longer publicly defend or campaign for Donald Trump, while also not withdrawing his endorsement of Trump. Another option could be what the Republican Party did to presidential nominee Bob Dole in the 1996 presidential election (and what Speaker Ryan is personally doing to Trump now): distancing themselves from the presidential nominee and instead directing more party resources and ad spots to Congressional (or ‘down-ballot’) races across the country. It’s also possible the Republican National Committee (RNC) could go even further this year, officially disavowing Trump and cutting off all party resources to his campaign; while presidential campaigns are usually a mixture of resources from both the candidate’s campaign and from the national party organization (in this case, the RNC), Donald Trump’s campaign has been unusually reliant on resources and fundraising from the RNC, so a total separation between Trump and the RNC could be extremely harmful to Trump’s campaign.

Of course, while it can be fun to speculate about worst-case scenarios, it’s also possible that this scandal will completely blow over with no real change. It’s worth keeping in mind that talk of abandoning Trump is nothing new: In August, Joe Scarborough, host of the talk show Morning Joe and a former Republican Congressman from Florida, penned an editorial for the Washington Post in which he called on the GOP to look into ways to remove Donald Trump from the presidential ticket after Trump’s feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a Muslim soldier who was killed in Iraq in 2004. In June, Politico reported that some Republicans suggested taking the presidential nomination away from Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention, in the wake of Trump’s allegation that Judge Gonzalo Curiel had a conflict-of-interest for a lawsuit relating to Trump University because Curiel was of Mexican heritage, a comment that was widely denounced as racist even within Trump’s own party. While both the Khan feud and the Curiel feud led to a kerfuffle when they occurred, neither caused Donald Trump to be dethroned as the Republican nominee.

So, to recap: while initial news coverage seems to indicate the new Trump tape is badly hurting the presidential candidate, the fact that Donald Trump has come under similar fire before and yet survived may indicate this will also not end Trump’s candidacy. While there is a demand among many prominent Republicans to remove Trump from the presidential ticket, state deadlines and party rules makes this impossible. The worst the GOP leadership can do is limit his resources or distance themselves from him, and while both strategies would hurt Trump’s campaigning abilities, they would not change the fact that, for better or for worst, Donald J. Trump of New York will be the Republican Party presidential nominee when Election Day rolls around.