By Ken Feltman
As news spread concerning the latest crisis for Donald Trump’s campaign, I wondered what was happening with the advisors closest to the situation. I got on the telephone and sent text messages and emails to GOP political insiders (including several who are – or purport to be – Trump insiders). Then I called or sent messages to people in the media who are covering national politics (most are covering the Trump campaign). Surprisingly, 31 responded (18 political consultants and operatives and 13 media people.
Here is the gossip. I know, I know, many in the media would call this news or analysis. It isn’t. It’s just gossip. But it is interesting.
People in Trump Tower tell me that Donald Trump’s family members believe that if Trump quits, he will be disgraced and risks losing any commercial value he has. If he stays in and loses, he will still be a money-making personality on television and other entertainment outlets.
Could winning come at the price of cashing in now?
Initially, the Trump family did not believe that the Donald could win. Gradually, they seemed to change their minds. One Trump child has said that, all along, the family realized that running for president was Trump’s biggest and best money-making idea. They want to cash in and, therefore, do not want their father to quit. They believe his millions of committed followers will stick with him through an election loss – and those followers will be willing to part with cash later.
One family member discussed how losing the election would be better than winning because winning would delay the date that Trump and his family could start taking money to the bank.
Sources close to Mike Pence say that he has a hard decision to make: Stick with Trump and gain the support of Trump’s ardent supporters when the campaign is over or break with Trump and hope his debate performance puts him atop the GOP’s 2020 list. Pence seems to be seeking a middle path because he sees Paul Ryan’s quick denunciation of Trump as putting Ryan clearly with the “establishment” Republicans.
Ryan supporters are saying that they believe that Ryan was just being honest and putting the country and party first when he broke with Trump. But his close associates say he is most concerned about keeping control of the House of Representatives. That is his power base for a run for president.
Ready to answer the call
The media folks had a lot to say about two former GOP presidential candidates, Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani. Apparently, both have let senior Republican Party officials know that they are available if Trump quits.
This gossip may be complete garbage. But it’s not any worse than some other aspects of this campaign. In fact, in an election that nobody seems to deserve to win, this may give us hints about the thinking of 2020’s ambitious Republicans.