Does GOP Have to Run Pence for President if Trump Can't Continue?

While Mike Pence would be first in line to assume powers from Donald Trump as acting president if the need occurred, the vice president would not automatically become his replacement on the Republican ticket if the incumbent dropped out of the race.

Trump announced in the early hours of Friday that he had tested positive for coronavirus, and that he is isolating with the first lady Melania, who has also tested positive. At present, he is expected to continue his duties as president.

In a statement issued later that morning, Trump's physician Sean Conley said he would "expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption".

Should Trump later become unable to serve, Pence would—under the 25th Amendment—be next in line to temporarily carry out the responsibilities of president.

But with regards to the the November 3 presidential election, the rules for replacing Trump on the Republican ticket are less clear cut.

The procedure for dealing with such a situation are set out in The Rules of the Republican Party under rule No. 9 for filling vacancies in nominations.

This rule gives the Republican National Committee authority over how to decide upon a replacement.

It states that the RNC is "hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise of the Republican candidate for President of the United States or the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States." In this scenario, committee members would be asked to vote for their preferred candidate.

Alternatively, the rule states, the committee could reconvene the Republican National Convention in order to allow delegates vote on the issue.

The winning candidate would need a majority decision to land the role, the rule book stipulates. "No candidate shall be chosen to fill any such vacancy except upon receiving a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the election," it states.

There is no mention in the rules of the vice presidential candidate necessarily being proposed should the original presidential candidate need to be replaced.

RULE NO. 9 In Full:

Filling Vacancies in Nominations

(a) The Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise of the Republican candidate for President of the United States or the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States, as nominated by the national convention, or the Republican National Committee may reconvene the national convention for the purpose of filling any such vacancies.

(b) In voting under this rule, the Republican National Committee members representing any state shall be entitled to cast the same number of votes as said state was entitled to cast at the national convention.

(c) In the event that the members of the Republican National Committee from any state shall not be in agreement in the casting of votes hereunder, the votes of such state shall be divided equally, including fractional votes, among the members of the Republican National Committee present or voting by proxy.

(d) No candidate shall be chosen to fill any such vacancy except upon receiving a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the election.

If Pence were to move from being the vice presidential candidate to the presidential candidate, this would also leave Republicans in the position of then needing to fill his original spot on the ticket.

Pence has not ruled out making a future bid for the White House, amid speculation of a potential 2024 run.

Newsweek has contacted the Republican National Committee and the vice president's office for comment.

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Vice President Mike Pence delivers an update on the nations coronavirus testing strategy in the Rose Garden of the White House on September 28, 2020. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images