Had things gone south for the Trump campaign following the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape, then-vice presidential candidate Mike Pence and GOP chairman Reince Priebus had a plan to quickly replace Donald Trump on the Republican ticket, The Atlantic reported Tuesday.
According to writer McKay Coppins, who has written at length about Pence for The Atlantic and for a forthcoming book, Pence approached the Republican National Committee almost immediately after a tape aired featuring Trump instructing "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush on the finer points of modern courtship. He reportedly told Priebus that he was "ready to replace" Trump should the need arise.
Unfortunately for Pence, it never did. Trump's image, already that of a well-known playboy who had womanized within society circles in Manhattan, didn't suffer markedly from the revelation. It turns out, everyone was familiar with Trump's branding, and the "Access Hollywood" tapes, while bawdy, weren't much of a surprise.
Although promised, further tapes that were supposed to depict the then-candidate using racial slurs and other inflammatory language never emerged.
There was, according to Coppins, also the tiny matter of getting Trump to exit the campaign. At one point, the Atlantic says, a group of billionaires considered amassing funds to "pay Trump off," but abandoned their efforts when confronted with an $800 million figure.
But for some in the GOP, the story is a tale of "what might have been." According to Coppins, had Pence taken the reins that late in the game, party leaders were planning on recruiting former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as his running mate. Republicans, of course, have been desperately trying to entice Rice back into the political game for some time, but she's resisted taking the plunge, focusing instead on academic pursuits.