Following yesterday’s withdrawal of support by a group of Republican Senators and House Members for their party’s nominee Donald J. Trump, following lewd comments from a 2005 video, in which he “bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women.” In the video, Mr. Trump is quoted as saying: “When you’re a star, they let you do it.” Two days ago, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to issue an apology for his comments, claiming he was not a “perfect person nor pretended to be,” that his cross-country travels have left him a “changed” person, and that he pledged to “be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down.” As many in the GOP call for Mr. Trump to step aside, especially from “NeverTrump” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), the question has arisen about how to replace the Republican Party’s Presidential Nominee.
“What would happen if a candidate for President or Vice President were to leave the ticket any time between the national party convention and the November election 8 election day?” A recently released study from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) titled: Presidential Elections: Vacancies in Major Party Candidacies and the Position of the President-Elect offers a succinct answer: Should a vacancy occur between the national conventions and election day, then party rules apply.
“Although it might be assumed that the vice presidential candidate would succeed in the event of a vacancy in the presidential nomination, in fact, both major parties provide for replacement by their respective national committees.”
For a republican candidate, a vacancy on the presidential ticket would be filled by either the Republican National Committee (RNC) or by re-convening the national convention. The reconvening is authorized in the event of death, declination, or vacancy, such as from resignation or disqualification.
RNC Rule No. 9, “Filling Vacancies in Nominations,” indicates in section (b) [RNC]…members representing any state shall be entitled to cast the same number of votes as said state was entitled to cast at the national convention.” Section (c) mentions that, in the absence of majority support for a candidate, “votes of such state shall be divided equally…among members of the [RNC] present or voting by proxy.”
For a democratic candidate, presidential ticket vacancies would be filled by a special meeting called by the Democratic National Committee’s Chairperson, as required by The Charter and By-Laws of the Democratic Party.
Article II, Section 7(c) mentions that special meetings of the national committee may be held upon the call of the party’s Chairperson, and approval from the Executive Committee may not be required. Sections 8(c) & (d) require all questions addressed by a special meeting shall be determined by majority vote of members present and voting in person, or by proxy. Also, 40% of the full-membership present in person or by proxy, or 50 members present in person, shall constitute a quorum.
The CRS study offers two examples of Presidential ticket replacement. First, in the 1972 Presidential Election, Democratic Party nominee Sen. George McGovern replaced then Vice President candidate Sen. Thomas Eagleton with Former Ambassador R. Sargent Shriver, following resignation on August 1. On August 8, the DNC confirmed the nomination. Second, In 1912, Republican President William Taft’s running mate, Vice President James Sherman, passed away on October 30. The RNC nominated Columbia University President Nicholas Butler to replace Sherman, and “all eight Republican electors subsequently voter for Butler.”
However, as Mr. Trump has vowed to not drop out of the race, the impact of his comments on tonight’s Presidential Debate remain yet to be seen.