It was something of a joke among Donald Trump's opponents during the 2016 election that he would probably drop out of the race if someone offered him enough money. So it is fun to open this new profile of Vice President Mike Pence in The Atlantic and see a report that even Republicans were seriously thinking about it:
Meanwhile, a small group of billionaires was trying to put together money for a “buyout” — even going so far as to ask a Trump associate how much money the candidate would require to walk away from the race. According to someone with knowledge of the talks, they were given an answer of $800 million. (It's unclear whether Trump was aware of this discussion or whether the offer was actually made.)
This happened in the immediate aftermath of the leak of the “Access Hollywood” tape on which Trump was caught bragging about sexual assault just a month before the election. The Republicans — in a panic that the tape was not just a nail in the coffin but the cement that would sink that coffin to the bottom of the ocean, dragging the party's congressional majorities with it — were casting around for any solution.
Imagine for a minute the reaction, particularly among the Republican base drawn to Trump's populist message, to ultra-wealthy GOP donors buying off the confessed sexual assaulter the party had nominated for president for just over three-quarters of a billion dollars. The screaming might have flattened cities.
Republicans were also reportedly considering a coup, led by Pence, that would have dumped Trump and elevated his vice presidential candidate to the top of the ticket:
The furtive plotting, several sources told me, was not just an act of political opportunism for Pence. He was genuinely shocked by the Access Hollywood tape. ... The couple was appalled by the video, however. Karen in particular was “disgusted,” says a former campaign aide. “She finds him reprehensible — just totally vile.”
And yet none of this was enough to get Pence to quit the campaign. He made his peace with it and now occupies the vice president's office, a path he seems to think was divinely ordained.
How would he have felt if he had needed the help of an $800 million payout to take over the ticket and then had still managed to win the election? Well, easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle and all that.
In other words, Pence would have been fine with it. And so, one imagines, no matter how loudly he would have screamed about it, would Trump.