Will Trump Quit… After He Wins?

REUTERS/Mike Segar

Brian J. Wise Managing Partner, Wise Public Affairs
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Does anyone think that Donald J. Trump really wants to be President? No, seriously. That’s the question I have been asking for a year now. Why would he want to leave the comfort of his gilded Manhattan office, making his own schedule, controlling his own company, and running his media and real estate empires in order to take on the massive responsibility of running a nation? After reviewing his early speeches and monitoring his incredibly unconventional campaign, it seems as if Mr. Trump continues to be more interested in proving that he can win, and less interested in actually governing this nation. If this is true, it makes Mr. Trump’s Vice Presidential pick the single most consequential decision of his entire campaign.

I doubt Mr. Trump has any illusions of grandeur for the top political post in the country. He has been around the block and involved in politics long enough to know that the job isn’t very glamorous. Once those national security briefings begin in the pre-dawn morning hours and he is forced to sit in the Situation Room late into the night, he will long for the freedom of a penthouse suite at his brand new hotel at the Old Post Office Building a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue (which, ironically, and I’m sure not coincidentally, reads Trump – Coming 2016).

His apathetic attitude toward presidential responsibilities could very well lead to an early, voluntary exit by Mr. Trump from the Oval Office. This is why Mr. Trump’s choice for Vice President is so important. If (when) a President Trump resigns his position to return to Trump Tower, which I predict will happen within the first two years of his Presidency, his Vice President will become President.

Those who have followed Governor Pence’s career were astonished that he accepted the number two slot with Trump. Their views don’t line up on most issues, their personalities are polar opposites, and Governor Pence has always been a man of principle and integrity. (I previously wrote about Governor Pence being my ideal choice for the GOP nomination early in the campaign.)

But what if? What if Mr. Trump has already decided that he will not fulfill his first term, and has conveyed that to Governor Pence? If that is the case, then Governor Pence is not accepting the number two slot on the Trump ticket. He is accepting a delayed reservation for the White House. To me, this is the only reasonable explanation for a man with Pence’s conservative credentials signing on as Mr. Trump’s VP.

Mr. Trump will likely win the White House. He himself will tell you that he doesn’t lose, and he has already dumbfounded the political class in Washington by decisively winning the GOP nomination and staving off a powerful #NeverTrump movement. If and when he does win the highest office in the land, he will quickly be faced with the harsh realities of the constraints and commitments that go along with being the most powerful man in the world. He will quickly realize that the most powerful man in the world doesn’t get to make his own rules, and Mr. Trump is used to making his own rules.

When President Trump does resign, as I predict he will before his first term is up, President Pence will be ushered into the Oval Office, Mr. Trump will have accomplished his goal of proving that he can “win” at anything, and the GOP political class will breathe a deep sigh of relief under the leadership of a principled and experienced conservative leader.