The American press is having a field day; a few days ago, Donald Trump racked up even more mistakes and snubs. The populist candidate is increasingly antagonizing his own camp, to such an extent that the big names in his party are hoping to remove him. The latest polls put him 10 points behind his rival, Hillary Clinton.
How Has He Alienated the Party Bigwigs?
On Saturday, while the Democratic Convention was only just finishing in Philadelphia, Trump sparked fierce controversy when he insulted the hijab-wearing mother of Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in combat in Iraq in 2004. “She was standing there, she had nothing to say,” the billionaire declared. “Maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say,” implying that her silence was linked to her religion. Trump has already attacked Muslims on numerous occasions, most notably when he announced that he would ban them from entering the United States. But he has forgotten that if there is one community you cannot insult in this country, and that is the veteran community. Last summer, the billionaire had the audacity to say that 2008 presidential candidate John McCain was not a “war hero” because he was held prisoner in Hanoi, Vietnam for six years. “I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump proclaimed. An unbelievable statement, considering the well-built student at the time was exempted from military service because of a cyst on his foot, right in the middle of the Vietnam War, as The New York Times revealed on Monday.
Trump has been rebuffed by many of the party big shots because of his insults toward the Khans. Reince Priebus, the president of the Republican National Committee, has asked him many times to change his behavior, something the business tycoon has not appreciated at all. By way of revenge, the candidate refused on Tuesday to endorse Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, as well as John McCain for the primaries that will take place on Nov. 8. His running mate, Mike Pence, tried to rectify the insult by announcing his support for the two candidates the following day, but it appears that was not enough. ABC news reports that certain high-ranking members of the party may be considering ways to replace Trump. On Wednesday, the channel confirmed that the Republican bigwigs were planning an “intervention”; whether that intervention is to push him to take his campaign in hand or to abandon it, no one knows. This meeting was not confirmed by those close to the real estate magnate.
Can the Party Change Its Candidate?
Two weeks after confirming Donald Trump as their official candidate during the convention in Cleveland, certain elected representatives within the Republican Party may now be considering the possibility of replacing him. The party rules contain no reference to such an eventuality. Trump would therefore have to resign and end the campaign himself. In this case, RNC regulations specify that the vacant position could be filled at another convention, or directly by the Committee. The party could also change its regulations in order to remove Trump.
Is It in the Party’s Interests To Remove Trump?
Not really. By distancing themselves from the billionaire, the Republicans may risk alienating a significant amount of support that Trump has consolidated since the start of his campaign, particularly the 13.4 million people who voted for him in the primaries. This is particularly significant due to the strong anti-establishment sentiment that exists among conservative voters at the moment. On the other hand, it is not in the Republicans’ interests to support Donald Trump in all his extraordinary ventures, as they run the risk of losing independent voters who they need in order to win upcoming elections. On Nov. 8, at the same time as the presidential election, the whole House of Representatives will be running for re-election, along with a third of the Senate. “It’s a very important issue for the Republicans, who must keep their majority in the Senate if they want to be able to appoint a conservative judge to the Supreme Court,” says Marie-Cécile Naves, sociologist at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs. “The Republicans are walking on a razor’s edge in these elections.”
Is This Just the Umpteenth Episode in the Saga?
We have learned since the start of the presidential campaign that with Trump, we never know what tomorrow holds. For the moment, the candidate is still 10 points behind Hillary Clinton in the latest polls in the wake of the Democratic Convention.
His voter base is solid, as the increase in financing for his campaign from small donors shows. He raised $82 million in July, which puts him on the same level as Clinton. According to Marie-Cécile Naves, “these sudden developments are proof that the final three months of the campaign will see an escalation in the violence of the attacks on both sides.”
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama described Donald Trump as “unfit” to lead the country and called on conservatives not to support him, which is what Meg Whitman, a leading figure in Silicon Valley who raises funds for the Republicans, did the very next day. She will surely be followed by other members of the party. But voters have so far shown themselves to be relatively indifferent to these defections, which they consider biased.