Although it’s more likely for us to see elephants to fly than to see Hillary Clinton remove herself from the presidential race, many Democrats are calling for a streamlined process for doing so if Hillary’s health continues on deteriorate.
One Democrat voicing concern is a former Democratic National Committee chairman who says President Barack Obama and the party’s congressional leaders should immediately come up with a process to identify a potential replacement candidate for Clinton.
“Now is the time for all good political leaders to come to the aid of their party,” said Don Fowler, who was the DNC Chairman from 1995 to 1997. He was the Chairman during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and has backed Hillary Clinton since her 2008 presidential bid. “I think the plan should be developed by 6 o’clock this afternoon.”
Fowler said he expects Clinton to fully recover from her pneumonia, but he said the Democratic Party would be mistaken and foolish to proceed without a contingency plan. The party’s existing rules allow the DNC to name a replacement candidate but include few guidelines or parameters.
“It’s something you would be a fool not to prepare for,” he said in an interview on Monday. He added a note of caution, should Clinton attempt an expeditious return to the campaign trail.
“She better get well before she gets back out there because if she gets back out there too soon, it might happen again,” he said.
If Clinton could not physically continue her candidacy, she would have to voluntarily cede her nomination, creating a vacancy at the top of the national ticket. If she did, party procedures give the current chair of the DNC, Donna Brazile, the authority to call a “special meeting” to vote on a replacement nominee.
Fowler argued that the party would be wise to immediately set up an even more detailed process for those who might seek to be Clinton’s successor.
“There should be a concerted, unified effort on behalf of the president and the Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate and from the officials of the DNC as well — I think unanimity would be absolutely critical,” he said. “The quicker that unanimity develops, the easier and better the process.”
It would likely take two to three weeks to convene the DNC for a special meeting, and in that time the party could self-destruct battling over a new replacement, leaving Donald Trump with a clear path to the finish line.
Another challenge for the Democrats in the event that Hillary is taken off the ticket is most states have passed a deadline to change the names of candidates on their ballots. This means Clinton’s name would likely appear on ballots even though she is no longer running.