- - Wednesday, December 17, 2014



Interview, GOP Headquarters, Early 2015.

“Wonderful, thanks for coming in today. As you know, we are the panel of vetters for Republican candidates who want to run for president. And we hear you might want to have a go at the White House. Tell us about yourself.”

“I was supposed to run for president in 2000, but, you know, things happen. I liked the guy who got in, though.”

Um, OK. So, where were you born?”

“Texas. Midland, Texas.”

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“Place sounds familiar. You grow up there?”

“No, more in Houston.”

“What school did you go to?”

“Oh, I went to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.”

“Hmm, we don’t much like Massachusetts after the last guy — and he was governor. College?”

“University of Texas in Austin.”

“We really don’t like Austin. Maybe we should just — “

“I majored in Latin American studies.”

” … Go on.”

“Before I went to UT, I did a student exchange program in Mexico. I met my future wife there.”

“At the U.S. embassy?”

“No. Her name is Columba Garnica Gallo. She’s Mexican.”

“OK, you’ve got our attention. What was your first job?”

“I took an entry level position in the international division of Texas Commerce Bank. I opened a new operation for the bank in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, worked for two years there. Did I mention I’m fluent in Spanish?”

[Team of presidential vetters sighs, swoons, falls speechless]

“Uh, yeah, OK, so, then I went to Miami, worked for a 32-year-old Cuban immigrant and self-made American millionaire. At one point, I was an owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

“Baseball team? Ooh, we did a baseball team owner already.”

“No, NFL.”

“Oh, OK. Rush likes football. We can sell this. So, politics. Much experience there?”

“Sure. I was chairman of the Dade County Republican Party.”

“That the place with the hanging chads?”

“The what now?”

“Never mind. Go on.”

“Well, I was campaign manager for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American to serve in Congress.”

“Ka-ching. Continue.”

“And I was Florida’s Secretary of Commerce.”

“Don’t mention that one. OK, what else?”

“Well, I was governor of Florida — twice.”

“Twice? You should lead with that. We should know you then. How’d all that go?”

“I reduced taxes by $19 billion, cut the size of state government by 6.5 percent, vetoed $2 billion in new spending, and brought the state the highest bond rating possible. I reformed the medical liability system by setting up caps — boy, NO ONE wanted those. And I reformed Medicare in the state. They hated that one, too, then they all loved it.

“Let’s not say Medicare again. That scares us. But still not ringing a bell. Moderate?”

“Hardly. I enacted the nation’s first statewide private school voucher program, backed more restrictions on abortions and fewer on gun ownership. I pushed to reduce entitlement spending, battled the nanny state, repealed the helmet law for motorcyclists and vetoed a bill requiring car booster seats for kids. Government, not a big fan.”

“OK. But today, where do you stand?”

“I like that immigration order by President Obama … oh, and that whole Common Core thing.”

“Wait. This is all sounding a bit familiar. What’s your name?”

“John Ellis.”

“Was your dad in politics?”

“He was. He was president. So was my brother. You know them. Both named George.”

“Bush? Oh, damn it, Jeb, we told you last time — A Bush can be president again, but not until 2036. Tell George P. to come by in 20 years.”

“OK, guys, but I should warn you. I’m ready to lose the primary to win the general election — without violating your principles.”* And just a word of advice: It might be time to find some new blood on this panel. You haven’t held much sway the last two cycles, and I’m guessing you’re all but done. The GOP’s set to go a whole new direction, either you’re on board or you’re left behind.”

“Says you. We run the show here, Bush, and we really like that Texas guy, even if half the time he can’t remember what he’s talking about.”

“Well, good luck with that. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. That other guy thinks Carlos Santana said that. He didn’t. But anyway, people are starting to wonder: How many times are you guys going to repeat it?”

This is the only real quote in this entire story.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.

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