The darkest secret in the big money world of the Republican coastal elite is that the most palatable alternative to a nominee such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas or Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky would be Clinton, a familiar face on Wall Street following her tenure as a New York senator with relatively moderate views on taxation and financial regulation.
“If it turns out to be Jeb versus Hillary we would love that and either outcome would be fine,” one top Republican-leaning Wall Street lawyer said over lunch in midtown Manhattan last week. “We could live with either one. Jeb versus Joe Biden would also be fine. It’s Rand Paul or Ted Cruz versus someone like Elizabeth Warren that would be everybody’s worst nightmare.”
Most top GOP fundraisers and donors on Wall Street won’t say this kind of thing on the record for fear of heavy blowback from party officials, as well as supporters of Cruz and Rand Paul. Few want to acknowledge publicly that the Democratic front-runner fills them with less dread than some Republican 2016 hopefuls. And, to be sure, none of the Republican-leaning financial executives are so far suggesting they’d openly back her.
But the private consensus is similar to what Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said to POLITICO late last year when he praised both Christie — before the bridge scandal — and Clinton. “I very much was supportive of Hillary Clinton the last go-round,” he said. “I held fundraisers for her.”