When leaked 2005 footage of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump bragging about allegedly kissing women without their consent and grabbing them "by the p---y" went public earlier this month, the conservative murmurings intensified to an agitated rumble: Could Donald Trump's party replace him on the ballot? Please? They'd take Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Donald Duck... and as a one woman after the other emerged to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct, perhaps some desperate voters were even willing to venture that a man even more unlikely than a fictional cartoon character may be up for the job: Remember that guy who was supposed to swoop in and save the day way back when? they may be saying to one another between sobs and swings straight from bottles of whiskey. Could Evan McMullin replace Trump?
Though even his own running mate was reportedly "absolutely apoplectic," "melting down," and "inconsolable," when the now-infamous "Trump tape" launched the GOP into a tizzy, Trump announced almost immediately that he would not — would not — drop out of the race. In that case, fantasizing about obscure Independent candidate Evan McMullin worming his way to the top of the Republican ticket is just about as futile an exercise as daydreaming about Michelle "No, nope, not going to do it" Obama making a 2020 run.
That's because the Republican National Convention's rules dictate that its members may replace their nominee only in the case of "death, declination, or otherwise," CNN reported. And while Trump has certainly been declining in the polls against Democrat Hillary Clinton, the RNC can't use that alone as a basis for giving him the boot from politics.
When McMullin, an unwavering member of the conservative #NeverTrump movement, former CIA operative, and House Chief Policy Director, announced his bid in August, it was intended as an antidote to the Trump campaign. A much more palatable alternative to both Clinton and Trump, if you will. Here's how he described his mission when he filed to run as a third-party candidate:
In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up. It’s never too late to do the right thing, and America deserves much better than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can offer us. I humbly offer myself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a conservative choice for President.
And he's been vocal about lambasting the candidates ever since, Wednesday night's third and final debate being no exception:
McMullin's triumphant announcement largely landed with a thud, though: He had missed the deadlines to get onto the ballot in many states, and he's remained more obscure and unknown than even fellow third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein (who also can't take over for Trump, FYI).
There are a whole host of other reasons why Trump can't simply be replaced on the ballot this late in the game, not least of of which being that early voting has already started in some states, and absentee ballots are already printed. Evan McMullin is not the conservative savior to release the party from those constraints. What he can, and likely will, do, though, is win Utah, where a recent polls shows a large Mormon population has helped him earn 31 percent of the likely vote, compared to Trump's 27 and Clinton's 24, as of Wednesday, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
"Evan is the beneficiary of very weak competition," state Sen. Lincoln Fillmore told the newspaper. Ouch.
Very weak competition, indeed. Perhaps Republicans who have witnessed their candidate's campaign spectacularly implode as he self-destructs will bear that in mind when casting future votes.