"If I’m going down, then Bush is going down with me"

It’s also possible that a Trump who is losing would be more erratic than the one who is winning. “His numbers are going to come down, and then he’s going to panic,” a Trump friend told me. “He doesn’t believe it will ever happen. He has not confronted this in his mind,” says another conservative who knows Trump well. So, if you think Trump has been unpredictable now, just wait. “The things that have already come out of his mouth are so much worse than so many things that sunk Herman Cain and the other flavors of the month last time,” another Trump friend says. It’s not hard to imagine Trump launching a kamikaze mission against the candidates left standing…

While Trump assured me that he thinks Bush is “a nice person,” he has told friends in private that his animosity is personal. According to one friend, Trump blames Bush and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim for Univision’s decision in June to cancel a $13.5 million contract with Trump to televise his Miss USA pageant. Five days later, Slim scrapped a deal with Trump to develop shows in Mexico. Trump responded by filing a $500 million lawsuit against Univision. “Trump believes it all goes back to Jeb,” the friend says. “He thinks Jeb and his wife, Columba, are close with Carlos Slim and Univision got pressure from Slim operatives.” In a move that further confirmed Trump’s suspicions, Univision has hired Miguel Estrada, a Washington lawyer with deep Bush ties.

When — if? — Trump withdraws from the campaign, he will no longer have a ready landing pad on television. (His Apprentice deal with NBC has been canceled, too.) This is a prospect that is likely terrifying for Trump — and should, in turn, be terrifying for Bush. In a recent phone call with a longtime friend who has been acting as an informal adviser, Trump warned: “If I’m going down, then Bush is going down with me. He’s not going to be president of the United States.”