New York Mag: Trump Won’t Quit Until He Takes Down Bush

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks to reporters before addressing the Republican Party of Arkansas Reagan Rockefeller dinner in Hot Springs, Ark., Friday, July 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
AP Photo/Danny Johnston

From Gabriel Sherman writing at New York magazine:

The candidate most imperiled by Trump’s staying power is Bush, whose campaign had expected that Trump’s childish antics would position the former governor favorably as the party’s resident grown-up. Instead, the opposite has happened: Day after day, Trump is highlighting Bush’s enthusiasm gap and laying bare the emotional distance between the Establishment front-runner and his more radical constituents. Trump’s events, which have featured Aerosmith soundtracks and helicopter rides, make Bush’s campaign stops seem about as exciting as Brookings Institution panels. A few days ago, when both candidates were in New Hampshire, Fox News cut to a commercial during a Bush speech in mid-sentence and teased an empty Trump stage, suggesting that even a vacant Trump lectern is more interesting than Bush talking. “He really lacks energy,” Trump told me.

The Bush campaign and its supporters are now taking the fight to the medium where Trump dominates: television. On August 16, Bush’s super-PAC, Right to Rise, announced it will be dropping $10 million in ads in early-primary states. And yet, this is likely to goad Trump into a counterattack. “If Trump starts doing TV spots, he’d be a huge problem,” says the fund-raiser. Trump told me he’s prepared to counter Bush’s ad buy with “whatever it takes.”

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.”

Read the rest of the story at New York magazine.