“John, thanks for letting me mull over your pitch. Have a seat. Make yourself comfortable. How about something to drink?” Ted Cruz stepped behind the bar and reappeared with John Kasich’s favorite Cincinnati craft beer.
“First of all, let me just say, I agree with you,” Cruz began. We are stuck. I need you. America needs you.” You have won 14 elections. You know how to win Ohio. But you’ve also lost 49 elections this year.”
“Now hold on, Ted…” Kasich interrupted.
“Hang on, John,” Cruz held up a couple of fingers and continued. “We’ve won Texas, California, Maine, Alaska and a lot of other states in between. There’s just no way you can lead the ticket and lead us to victory over Hillary. The establishment has been slaughtered this election. If you led the ticket, we’d have a good ole fashioned Republican establishment versus Democrat establishment race, and we lose. America wants a street fighter that is committed to advancing conservatism. Our people are tired of losing and being lectured by out of touch liberals who are incompetent on the economy and foreign policy.”
“All right. You make some fair points, Ted. But you need Ohio and you need my support,” Kasich responded.
“You’re ____ straight. But at the end of the day, you’re with us. You care about the country more than your ego. You’re a patriot, not a narcissist,” Cruz stated matter of fact. “You realize Donald is a dumpster fire just as much as I do.”
“Ted, I beat Hillary in the polls. You lose,” Kasich countered.
“John, part of that is the favorables. You have great favorable because nobody bothered attacking your record. You weren’t a threat, so Trump and I really didn’t bother coming after you. That’s just reality. I beat Hillary in most of those polls too and when I prosecute the case against her, we will win big.” Cruz fired back.
Cruz continued. “The last time we ran a hardline conservative against the liberals, we won 49 states. Now we tried a moderate governor in the last election. We tried a moderate establishment guy the time before that. We lost those races big. There’s a reason you, Jeb, Marco and Christie never caught fire this primary season. We gotta flip the script and run somebody new who can articulate conservatism and offer a real contrast and choice. Americans are disgusted with the corruption in Washington. They want a Reagan conservative.”
“Look, Ted, you are passionate about the conservative movement and you came of age during Reagan. I respect that. I served during the Reagan era too, but I’m more of a pragmatist. Thing is when you’re in the driver’s seat, you gotta lead. Great speeches won’t cut it. I get things done,” Kasich replied.
“You do. John, you are fabulous at balancing budgets and turning things around. I have great respect for your fiscal record in Congress and in Ohio. Fact is, I have an important assignment in mind for you.”
“What are you thinking?” Kasich asked leaning in.
“John, the VA is a complete mess. It’s outrageous how our veterans are treated. Our service men and women are very important to both of us. You served on the armed forces committee, so you know the issues and red tape more than most. I know you can turn this organization around. Do that successfully, and then I want you to move over to Defense.”
“I don’t know, Ted. You need me on the ticket,” Kasich protested.
“John, here’s the reality. If you’re on the ticket, we lose too many Trump supporters. Then we lose all the purple states. I’m an outsider. The Washington Cartel hates me, because I’ve come at them like a wrecking ball. But I’ll note that Americans hate Washington too. This electorate is about sticking it to the establishment. We’re 18 trillion FREAKING dollars in debt, and they rightfully blame politicians on both sides for cronyism and the anemic economy. That’s why you and Marco won just two states between you. Beltway bubbas are toxic this election.
So I need Carly, Scott or Rick—somebody who can shake their fist at DC with some conviction and authority–and without the scarlet W on their resume. Fact is, you are a Washingtonian–an insider, John. If I put you on the ticket, you undermine my whole case against Hillary.”
Kasich sipped his drink in quiet contemplation.
Cruz pressed his case further. “You’re not as politically sharp as you once were either, John. You can’t make comments about women leaving the kitchen and refer to yourself as the “Prince of Light.” That stuff flew under the radar when you were a dark horse. But it’s reminiscent of Mitt’s “binder full of women” gaffe. Now I’m a preacher’s kid. I get that I come across too preachy sometimes. But when you start talking about Medicare, you sound like a preacher man yourself. Two preachers on the ticket ain’t gonna fly.”
Kasich fidgeted with his drink and leaned back.
“Look, I understand it’s a tough pill to swallow,” Cruz continued. “You’ve served your country faithfully for 30 years. But a Kasich presidency is just not in the cards,” Cruz said.
Cruz paused. “Take some time to talk to Karen. We can go a long way in getting our country back on track by uniting. Give it some serious thought. We need to lock this up, so we can defeat Hillary. Let’s do this.”
To be continued…