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The GOP Establishment’s Dilemma

July, 2015:

Phil, a long-time Republican campaign consultant, fundraiser and all-around big deal establishment type discusses the potential 2016 presidential field over the phone with Jack, a big-time GOP contributor.

Phil: Hello, Jack.

Jack: I’ve been expecting your call. It’s that season again, isn’t it?

Phil: It sure is and this time it’s going to be a slam dunk. We’ve got a lot of candidates lining up this time, but only one that you need to get behind with your money and support.

Jack: Who all is running? It’s hard to keep it all straight.

Phil: It’ll be easier to tell you who isn’t running. George W. Bush is not running. Neither is Laura Bush, I think. Beyond that, pretty much everybody else is.

Jack: I think Walker, Rubio, Carson and even Cruz could be formidable.

Phil: Jack, what are you talking about? It doesn’t matter who else is running, you need to line up your support – and money – behind Bush.

Jack: I thought you said Laura wasn’t running?

Phil: I’m talking about Jeb Bush. He’s a shoe-in. Great former governor of Florida and he’s well-known and well-liked. He hardly ruffles any feathers. And he won’t give anybody any grief about illegal immigration. Jack, I know you love cheap labor as much as the next guy. It’s an act of love and all that. Sure, it doesn’t play too well in the Republican primaries, but the voters will eat it up in the general election. Trust me.

Jack: Sure, I need my lawn mowed just like everybody else. But it’s a big field this year. I’m not sure it makes sense putting all donor eggs in one basket. Heck, even Donald Trump just announced he’s going to run.

Phil: Are you kidding? Flash-in-the-pan. Johnny Manziel will have a better fall than Donald Trump. Trump will be history before the Memorial Day. Build the wall, yeah, right. That would be bad for business. Trust me, line up behind Jeb now. You don’t want to be left out. Could be a job at Commerce waiting for you, if you play your cards right. Under-secretary or something.

Jack: They have one of those at the Commerce Department?

Phil: Who knows? Who cares? Once Jeb is president, he can do what he wants.

Jack: Okay, how much do you want?

Phil: How much have you got?

August 2015: (After the first GOP debate)

Phil: Hey, Jack. How’s it going?

Jack: I saw the debate the other night. Trump doesn’t seem like a flash-in-the-pan. He keeps leading in all of the polls. And Jeb, was he even there? What gives?

Phil: Relax, Trump will be toast before the leaves start to change. And Jeb is just laying low. He’s the tortoise, not the hare.

Jack: I at least expected him to be conscious. I dumped a boat load of cash into Romney’s campaign last time only to see him lose an election that was pretty hard to lose. He wouldn’t say anything bad about Obama. I sort of figured that was a requirement to run against Obama. He’s a sure thing, you told me. Don’t worry, you told me. Romney looks like a great campaigner compared to Jeb.

I’m starting to like Cruz more and more.

Phil: Forget that, Jack. Everybody hates Cruz. Should he win, I’m very concerned that he’d actually do what he said he was going to do. Who does that? Personally, I think that’s not very presidential. Stay the course with Jeb. It’s a dynasty, Jack. And you know what they say about dynasties, don’t you?

Jack: No, what do they say?

Phil: Um, I’m not really sure, but I’m certain it’s good news if you’re a Bush. Please, Jack, can you write another check?

Jack: Fine, but at this rate, I don’t want a Commerce job, I’m going to want to be king.

Phil: Thanks, Jack. I’ll work on it.

October 2015:

Phil: Things are really looking up for the Jeb Bush campaign. I think you’ll agree.

Jack: Looking up? In the debates he’s barely even on the stage. He’s so far off to the side he’s practically in the third row. Trump makes him look like a wimp. I think he is a wimp.

Phil: Don’t worry, the Iowa caucuses are still three months away.

Jack: But his poll numbers are terrible. Nobody even knows he’s running. He even has to keep reminding his mom. You know, it just occurred to me that the last time a Bush ran against a Clinton things didn’t turn out so well. I’m getting concerned. And why is he beating up on Rubio?

Phil: Don’t get cold feet. It’ll be fine. It’s all part of the plan. Rubio is taking establishment GOP votes away from Jeb, so he needs to attack him. Besides, Trump is a blow hard and he’ll flame out before you have that second helping of turkey dressing.

Just a little more money will really give Jeb the traction that he needs. Can we count on you again? Maybe there will be an ambassadorship available in Aruba. I can’t promise anything, but…

Jack: Okay, but I’m running out of patience.

December 2015:

Phil: Jack, just calling to wish you Merry Christmas.

Jack: Merry Christmas, my a**! If I’d have kept all the money I’ve dumped into Jeb’s campaign, I could have bought Aruba by now. This isn’t looking good, Phil. Trump keeps wiping the floor with him. Even Kasich looks more presidential. Kasich, for God’s sake! How did Jeb ever run Florida?

Phil: Relax, there’s nothing to worry about. Once the primary voting gets underway Jeb will take off like a rocket. No one has the campaign war chest he’s got. While we’re on the topic, since this is the season for giving, how about a little bit more?

Jack: This is it, Phil. It’s the last time. I’m about ready to look for alternatives.

February 2016 (following the Iowa caucuses)

Phil: Jack, How’s it go…

Jack: Stop, now! Just stop! He got 2.8 percent in Iowa. Just 2.8 percent. Jeb spent 14 million dollars for nothing!

Phil: But he way outpaced Jim Gilmore, so we see that as a positive.

Jack: Jim Gilmore got 12 votes! And half of those people probably thought they were voting for Happy Gilmore.

Phil: But we weren’t really focused on Iowa. Wait until New Hampshire. Jeb’s spending big time there. It’ll really change the dynamics of this race. It’ll be a new ballgame. You’ll see.

February 2016 (Following the New Hampshire primary)

Phil: Hey, um, Jack.

Jack: Don’t even start, Phil. Jeb outspent Trump ten to one and for what, fourth place? Fourth place doesn’t even get you a medal in the Olympics.

Phil: Jeb? Forget Jeb. He’s so last year. That dynasty stuff is way overrated. You need to line up behind Rubio. He’s the only one that can stop Trump.


Jack: Rubio? Even Jeb beat him in New Hampshire. How does backing Rubio now make any sense? And you kept telling me that Trump was going to fade. A flash-in-the-pan you said. Forget Johnny Manziel, Trump has had a better year than Tom Brady.

Phil: Look, Jack, you’re an establishment guy. I’m an establishment guy. We’ve got to stop Trump at all costs. The entire GOP establishment is lining up behind Rubio. You don’t want to be left out. Trump has got nothing going for him except votes. We hate that.

Jack: Votes? But isn’t that kind of the point, Phil? You know, to get votes. And votes mean delegates. And why not Cruz? He looks much more formidable than Rubio.

Phil: Jack, we’ve talked about this before. We hate Cruz. He wants to become president to actually get stuff done. He’s got an agenda, Jack. We’re not fond of agendas. He may even have principles. This is Washington, for God’s sake. There is no place for principles in Washington. That’s nuts.

Jack: Trump says he wants to get stuff done too. Sure, we’re not exactly what that is yet. And he’s not afraid of establishment types. In fact, that’s one of his biggest appeals. Maybe we should warm up to him a little bit.

Phil: It’s got to be Rubio. He’s the guy. Can we count on you for some cash?

Jack: (Reluctantly) Okay, but I don’t feel good about this.

Phil: Great. After Super Tuesday, you will be feeling so much better.

March 2016 (After Super Tuesday)

Phil: Hey, Jack. About Super Tuesday, granted, it wasn’t great, but Rubio won Puerto Rico on Saturday. It’s just the bump he needs.

Jack: Puerto Rico? Nobody cares about Puerto Rico, not even Puerto Ricans! This is the guy I need to support? He was talking about Trumps’s penis. Maybe that plays well in Puerto Rico, Jack, but in the real United States, not so much.

Phil: But we’ve got to stop Trump. We’ve trotted out Romney to say bad things about Trump. He called him a con man. That’ll surely help.

Jack: If Romney had said bad things about Obama in 2012 he would have won and we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.   The last thing I want is last time’s loser to beat up on a candidate for 2016. I’d rather hear Rubio talk about Trump’s penis.

And a con man? Phil, sometimes I think you’re a con man.

Phil: Me? A con man? But, I’m part of the GOP establishment.

Jack: There’s a difference?

March 2016

Phil: Hey, Jack, it’s…

Jack: Click.

March 2016 (After the Florida and Ohio primaries):

Phil: (Calling Jack once again): Jack?

Jack’s voice mail: I’m sorry I can’t come to the phone right now. I’m attending a Donald Trump rally. Please leave a message and I will return you’re call as soon as we make America great again.


1 Ann Herzer { 03.16.16 at 5:56 pm }

Ha! Ha! So clever. Be sure and vote for Donald J Trump, March 22- a sure winner unless the GOP controlled Congress reinstates Obama by executive order, or in a trade deal.


2 Muriel DuBow { 03.24.16 at 2:19 pm }

A very clever and sophisticated Abbot and Costello.Who’s on first…… This election will make TV history and probably get an Emmy. Between Hillary and Trump, the dialogue will be stupendous.


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