A story published Tuesday by Politico says President George W. Bush told former aides at a staff reunion in April that he is concerned he could be the last Republican president:
When it came to talk of 2016, though, the mood was grim. The Republican primary had just narrowed to essentially two choices, each anathema to these card-carrying members of the GOP establishment: Ted Cruz and, even more egregiously, Donald Trump.
But few were as dark about the Republican Party’s future as former President Bush himself. In a more intimate moment during the reunion, surrounded by a smaller clutch of former aides and advisers, Bush weighed in with an assessment so foreboding that some who relayed it could not discern if it was gallows humor or blunt realpolitik.
“I’m worried,” Bush told them, “that I will be the last Republican president.”
Politico uses this moment to launch into a story about what it calls the “GOP’s shadow convention,” essentially behind-the-scenes preparations by the party’s establishment wing to attempt to regain control of the party after what they see as Trump’s inevitable loss:
“There’s a school of thought that Trump, who’s gonna get crushed, will somehow teach the party a lesson and they’ll get it out of their system,” said Stuart Stevens, who was Mitt Romney’s chief strategist in 2012. “I don’t have confidence in that.”
Indeed, many are already at work to rearrange the fractured pieces to their liking—and advantage.
“The day after the election we’ll get back to being the anti-Clinton party,” said Alex Conant, a veteran Republican strategist and longtime Rubio adviser. “Which we’re actually good at being.”
“We’ll have a really good midterm,” he predicted, and a deep bench for 2020.
Former President George W. Bush is not attending the Republican convention this year.