Trump's closest allies are ready to jump ship to a Pence/Carson ticket and want the Donald to drop out... but is such a move even possible?
- Dozens of Republicans have called on Trump to drop out over his aggressive comments about women
- The Donald was filmed saying stars can 'do anything' to women, including grabbing them 'by the p***y' in 2005
- Close Trump allies have begun discussing a Mike Pence-Ben Carson ticket
- Other allies believe the race is already over for the real estate mogul
- 'I hate to say it, but it's over,'said informal policy adviser William J. Bennett
- Pence publicly said he didn't 'condone' remarks and 'cannot defend them'
- Republicans would face huge obstacles if they tried to replace Trump
Trump's closest allies are ready to jump ship as Republican senators call on the Donald to quit the campaign so Mike Pence can lead the ticket.
Dozens of Republican senators, representatives and governors have withdrawn their support from Trump after a video, published Friday, featured him saying stars can 'do anything' to women, including grabbing them 'by the p***y'.
Now it appears that the presidential candidate's friends and allies have been questioning whether Trump is still able to lead the Republicans to victory next month.
Several allies have begun discussing the possibility of a Pence-Carson ticket, a source close to Trump told the Washington Post.
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The vice presidential nominee, Mike Pence, has long described himself as a 'Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order'. Pence said in a statement about Trump: 'I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them'
'You'd keep Pence, and you'd bring the Trump people along with Carson, who they love,' the source said. 'Right now, Donald isn't going to go and doesn't want to go. But we've been texting about it.'
Sens Mike Lee of Utah and Mike Crapo of Idaho are also calling on Trump to quit the campaign so Pence can lead the ticket. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire says she'll write in Pence's name on the ballot — not Trump's.
Other allies believe the race is already over for Trump.
'It's a shame, a crying shame, but he can't win,' said former education secretary, William J. Bennett, an informal policy adviser to Trump. 'He should step down.'
He said that the Republican Party 'has to make a coldhearted calculation because of what he's done. It just can't stand.'
'It's over,' he said yesterday. 'I hate to say it, but it's over.'
But while the calls for Trump to step down grow louder, the feasibility of replacing a candidate less than a month before an election is under question.
The biggest obstacle facing the Republicans is that it is almost impossible to oust Trump unless he bows out.
Several allies have begun discussing a Mike Pence- Ben Carson (pictured) ticket
Trump has already vowed to remain in the presidential race, tweeting on Saturday: '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.'
There are provisions for if a candidate dies, chooses to bow out or is incapacitated, which allow them to be replaced.
But the party's 'Rule 9' prevents the GOP from pushing a nominee out of the position.
If the party was willing to take the risk, it could amend the rules and create a loophole to oust Trump. However, that would require a majority of the party's Rules Committee and two-thirds of the entire party to agree and the process would be far too slow to complete in time for the election, according to the Washington Post.
In the extremely unlikely case that Trump did choose to stand down, then Pence or another name could technically go on the ballot in some states.
But not in key battleground states like North Carolina and Florida where early voting has already begun and the ballots have already been printed. More than 34,000 Republican voters have already cast their ballots.
In an early morning tweet on Sunday, Trump appeared to take a swipe at the Republicans who have abandoned their support for him
Since it's too late to get Trump off the ballot in these states, if he were to drop out and be replaced, voters would have to go into the voting booth with the understanding a vote for Trump is a vote for someone else.
When a voter entered the booth, they would have to understand a vote for Trump is really a vote for 'person X' and experts say that poses a serious challenge for getting to 270 electoral votes.
The Washington Post says this is because some votes, cast before he bowed out, would inevitably be bound to Trump.
That would mean Republicans face an uphill battle to get into office.
When then-Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash, the state allowed former vice president Walter Mondale to run in his place. However, absentee votes for Wellstone were not added to Mondale's total and that seat was lost to the Republicans, the Post reported.
Another case saw Democrats making a legal case and getting new ballots printed after their Senate candidate in New Jersey dropped out of the race. With 34 days to go, new ballots were printed for a new candidate.
It's possible that the Republicans could take legal action to get new ballots if Trump quits, but the issue remains that votes have already been cast. In the other scenarios, they hadn't.
Pence was supposed to replace Trump at a Wisconsin event with Paul Ryan after the Speaker said he was 'sickened' by Trump's remarks, but later canceled. Pence said he was grateful that Trump expressed remorse and apologized and that he looked forward to Sunday's debate
Even if the Republicans were able to overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, polls still show that Mike Pence is unlikely to be able to beat Hillary Clinton, according to the Post.
With his party facing crisis, Trump, who has been known to double-down on his controversial remarks in the past, took the unusual step of apologizing for his aggressive comments towards women yesterday.
But it appears that the move was too little, too late as those around him condemned his remarks.
Even his wife denounced the comments on Saturday, saying his words were 'unacceptable' and 'offensive'.
Pence's advocacy for Trump came to a screeching, perhaps temporary, halt after the video, filmed in 2005, was released by the Washington Post.
The Indiana governor was said to be 'beside himself' over Trump's comments.
Pence said in a statement about Trump: 'I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them. I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people.
'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.
'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,' the Indiana governor said.
It's more evidence of the trials facing the GOP's No. 2 that could serve Pence well if he runs for the top spot in 2020.
Pence also backed out of attending a GOP festival in Wisconsin as Trump's substitute on Saturday as the scandal whirled around the candidate.
In the recording released by the Washington Post on Friday, Trump could be hear saying: 'And when you're a star they let you do it. Can do anything. Whatever you want. Grab them by the p**y'
Sources say Pence and his aides were 'absolutely apoplectic' about Trump's comments.
Former Republican candidate Ben Carson has stood by Trump, speaking to him at length Saturday.
He said Trump was frustrated with the criticism against him after the video but had no pans to withdraw from the race.
'He's not a quitter,' he said.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, along with Trump's top campaign aides, had all urged him to 'apologize for the first time in your life,' after the video emerged on Friday.
But other allies questioned the wisdom of the uncharacteristic apology.
'Why didn't he double down? If the apology was intended to stem the flow of dissent, to show that he's sorry for what he's said and done . . . that's not what took place,' said one Trump supporter close to the campaign.
While calls for the billionaire businessmen to stand down intensify from within his own party, Trump has remained defiant and announced he will continue to run.
In an early morning tweet on Sunday, he appeared to take a swipe at the Republicans who have abandoned their support for him.
'Tremendous support (except for some Republican 'leadership'). Thank you,' he tweeted.
On Friday, Trump's behavior put Pence through an even tougher test when the Washington Post released the recording. Trump and Pence supporters gathered outside Trump Tower cheering on Saturday
Others had also called for Pence to quit the race after he publicly stated that he could not 'condone' the billionaire's crude hot mic comments.
A few GOP leaders may be considering a scenario in which they would convince Pence to leave the ticket, according to CNN.
Former Jeb Bush supporter, Vin Weber told the network that he would 'absolutely' call for Pence to leave the ticket as a way to put 'immeasurable pressure' on Trump to leave the race.
'Pence is the anchor that keeps Trump in the race,' so without him it would be over for the candidate, Weber said.
'I'm sure he's horrified,' said Mike Murphy, an Indiana public relations strategist who's known Pence for more than two decades, said of Pence.
'We impeached Bill Clinton and we cannot impeach Trump off the ballot. But I wish there was a mechanism to do so.'
Pence raised his political stock Monday night during the only debate against Democrat Tim Kaine.
During the 90-minute event, Pence managed to not defend Trump's indefensible behavior, yet still sound supportive and show off his own expertise on foreign policy.
The Indiana governor was said to be 'beside himself' over Trump's comments
The performance highlighted the gulf in political sophistication between Trump and his running mate.
Pence addressed the awkwardness with a savvy statement acknowledging his own performance and preserving his alliance with Trump.
'People are saying that I won the debate,' he said Wednesday in Harrisonburg, Virginia. 'From where I sat, Donald Trump's vision to make America great won the debate.'
But on Friday, Trump's behavior put Pence to an even tougher test.
The Washington Post and NBC broke the story of Trump's words about women as Pence advocated for Trump him in Ohio.
'With Donald Trump as president, we'll have a president of the United States who respects all the American people,' Pence said as news of Trump's comments was breaking.
Pence went on to defend, as he has previously, Trump's outspoken nature as a refusal to 'tiptoe around those thousands of rules of political correctness'.
The VP nominee ignored questions about Trump and he was quickly whisked out of reach of the news media.
WHO ARE THE REPUBLICANS THAT HAVE WITHDRAWN THEIR SUPPORT FOR DONALD TRUMP OR CALLED ON HIM TO DROP OUT?
Illinois Senator Mark Kirk
Utah Senator Mike Lee
Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan
Virginia Representative Barbara Comstock
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake
New Jersey Representative Scott Garrett
Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby
Nevada Representative Joe Heck
South Dakota Senator John Thune
New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte
Utah Governor Gary Hebert
Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Idaho Senator Mike Crapo
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard
Texas Congressman Will Hurd
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham
Maine Senator Susan Collins
Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenbury
California Congressman David Valadao
Arizona Senator John McCain
Utah Governor Gary Hebert
Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner
Former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina
Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer
Nevada Congressman Cresent Hardy
Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski
Utah Congresswoman Mia Love
Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent
Michigan Congressman Fred Upton
Colorado Senator Cory Gardner
Colorado Senate nominee Darryl Glenn
Florida Congressman Tom Rooney
New Jersey Congressman Frank LoBiondo
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman
Utah Congressman Chris Stewart
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
Michigan Congressman Justin Amash
Influential Indiana conservative, Jim Bopp, who helped draft this year's Republican Party platform, said Pence 'should stay the course'.
Trump's words are 'ill-considered and crude', Bopp said, and also 'statements Mike Pence would never make'.
Dozens of Republicans have since called for Trump to drop out of the presidential race or have rescinded their support.
Meanwhile Today Show co-host Billy Bush, who could be heard laughing and appearing to egg Trump on during the 2005 discussion, will not face any punishment from NBC.
Bush made a public apology on Friday for his role in the discussion, saying:
'Obviously I'm embarrassed and ashamed. It's no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago— I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I'm very sorry.'
Bush is still 'hoping' to issue a heartfelt apology directly to Nancy O'Dell on the Today Show.
'Billy wanted his public apology to speak for him, to speak to the people who are bashing him and speak to everyone he hurt,' a source told HollywoodLife.com. 'He hopes to speak to Nancy at some point but has yet to reach out personally. '
He is also expected to address the incident on Monday's broadcast of 'Today.'
The Wall Street Journal reports that NBC will not seek to reprimand or punish the host after his apology.
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