Is Jeb Bush the GOP's best choice to beat Hillary Clinton?

Mercedes Schlapp on the GOP presidential field


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 2, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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INGRAHAM: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Laura Ingram, in for Bill O'Reilly. And in the factor follow-up segment tonight, the GOP presidential field, a number of high profile Republicans are still dancing around the question of whether or not they'll run in 2016. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush says he'll make a decision by the end of the year. But his brother and former president George W. has already weighed in.


GEORGE W. BUSH: I hope he runs. He's been an effective chief executive of a big state. He's -- confident he can reach out to people who that may at this point feel like the Republican Party doesn't listen to them.


INGRAHAM: And some big-time Republican donors seem to agree. According to a "New York Times" story, a number of them are considering supporting Jeb over New Jersey Governor Chris Christie should the two run. Joining me now with reaction Mercedes Schlapp. She's a former spokesperson for President Bush W., and a blogger for U.S. News and "World Report." So, Mercedes, great to see you. I had heard this from some friends who are in the fundraising community that a lot of the big money waiting on the sidelines to wait to see what Jeb does. Christie was the darling for so many of them. They think he's damaged goods, I don't believe that he's necessarily down for the count, but isn't this kind of all frozen until Jeb decides?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, FORMER SPOKESPERSON FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: Oh, absolutely. I think Christie was the flavor of the month for some time, but I think with Jeb's still - as you were saying, kind of dancing around, going to make a decision hopefully by the end of the year, it does present the opportunity for donors to kind of look - step back and see what's going to happen here. And so, they do believe that he's probably one of the stronger general election candidates. The question will be, can he unify that Republican base, you know, the Tea Partiers along with the Republican establishment. That will be a critical component.

INGRAHAM: I think what is happening. And I sense this in my radio show, when I listen to folks across the country, and it's not uniform, but I think a lot of people just believe the establishment has flopped on the whole bunch of issues. They failed economically. In the second Bush term, we spent too much money. We didn't' really keep the public on board with the war, so there's a huge war fatigue, which ushered in, of course, Barack Obama. So, the last Bush term, very rocky, delivered Barack Obama, the establishment fails time and again. The establishment of the Democratic Party fails as well, but they wonder, and I think you know the poll. 15 percent, only 15 percent, the new "Economist" poll, folks out there want Jeb Bush to run at all. And I can tell you, my listeners for the most part are like, nothing personal, wonderful family. We just don't want to go there.

SCHLAPP: But then there was "The Post/ABC" poll that came out saying that 72 percent of conservatives actually had a favorable view of the Bush family.

INGRAHAM: I've got had a favorable view of the Bush family. It's not personal.

SCHLAPP: Right. But with Jeb, I think here's the thing. It's too early in the process. We've got to let him voice his .

INGRAHAM: Why is he waiting? I mean he gets a free ride right now, right? He's getting a big free ride.

SCHLAPP: Think about it.

INGRAHAM: No, but he's waiting, because he gets the free ride. He gets the free ride on immigration amnesty. He gets the free ride on common core. Both flashpoint issues for the Republican Party.

SCHLAPP: Look, I would want to see more of a front runner come out at this point.


SCHLAPP: Because it's very scary when we are trying to attack ourselves instead of going to enemy number one. We need to be attacking.

INGRAHAM: Well, there were a lot of people .


INGRAHAM: Well, I think - I think a lot of folks believe that the establishment is the enemy.

SCHLAPP: And that's the unfortunate part.

INGRAHAM: The establishment - well, it's not the unfortunate part. It's the truth. The reason that we have Barack Obama is because we had a failed second Bush term. Again, I love George W. Bush, I love him as a person.

SCHLAPP: He's presidential candidate, too. I mean you had two weak --

INGRAHAM: Who wasn't an establishment candidate? Romney, another nice person. An establishment candidate.


INGRAHAM: No contrast.

SCHLAPP: Where are you going to find a candidate that's going to be able to have a broad appeal beyond the conservative base, which we crucially need?

INGRAHAM: Right. Well, did we have it last time, that conservative base?

SCHLAPP: Absolutely not.

INGRAHAM: Energized with Romney. But you think they're magically going to get energized with the George W. Bush's brother.

SCHLAPP: Is it magically? No, this is going to be a process where they are going to have to duke it out, debate it on the front lines, and I think Jeb Bush should have a voice. He was a successful governor.

INGRAHAM: Of course. If he wants -who's saying he shouldn't have a voice. I mean I .

SCHLAPP: There should be ..

INGRAHAM: We are going to have the voice. Let me tell you what is going to happen. I'll tell you what's going to happen. This is what I predict will happen. He will come into Ohio, he'll lose Iowa. Somehow like Huckabee will win Iowa. He'll run into New Hampshire and win. He could very well win in South Carolina, but let's say he loses South Carolina. He goes into Florida. With all those big money people around the sidelines. They poured all this money into Jeb. He'll win in Florida, and then it's over.

SCHLAPP: The key will be .

INGRAHAM: It's over.

SCHLAPP: Hillary.

INGRAHAM: It's over.


SCHLAPP: We cannot --

INGRAHAM: I'm glad you brought that up.

SCHLAPP: There's too much - there's too much state.

INGRAHAM: He loses by eight points.

SCHLAPP: He won't lose.

INGRAHAM: He loses by eight - Who is the only person to ever beat Hillary in a head to head?

SCHLAPP: In the head to head, really, it was .

INGRAHAM: Christie.

SCHLAPP: Chris Christie. At one point. You put Christie in the Midwest and in the south, and he will not play well. Christie plays well in New Jersey, and he's a moderate, and you know it.

INGRAHAM: Well, we don't know.

SCHLAPP: He's a moderate.

INGRAHAM: He is certainly random, and gosh, he was elected as a Tea Party conservative and he's more moderate than Jeb Bush?

SCHLAPP: He's definitely more moderate.

INGRAHAM: Oh, my goodness. That's an interesting. But, you know, Jeb Bush us losing the Hillary in every poll including at his home state.

SCHLAPP: At some point, they are losing. So, the point is, you've got to find out one candidate, and it might be an out of the box candidate.


SCHLAPP: Let him be part of the debate.

INGRAHAM: We asked the whole - they have the debate, but he's going to have the money and that's going to be a huge advantage to him. Mercedes, thank you so much. Great to see you.

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