John Bolton and Peter King sat in a dimly-lit, cigarette smoke-filled bar, both of them sipping on vodkas and listening to awful country music in the background. A woman, intentionally showing as much cleavage as possible, walked by, trying to get one of them to buy her a drink. King started to raise his hand to get the bartender’s attention, but Bolton caught it and lowered it.
“Don’t bother,” Bolton said. “She wants your money, not your dick.”
King gave a half-hearted shrug and kept at his drink.
After a moment of silence in the middle of all the noise of the bar, King turned back to Bolton. “Do you think we made the right call?”
“About what?” Bolton asked.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about.” Behind them, a bar fight began, two men ganging up on a third, but both getting beaten down within seconds. The third man tossed one of them onto the pool table, knocking pool balls everywhere. One of them. the 6 ball, rolled under King’s chair. He bent down and picked it up. He spun it around in his hand. “I went to New Hampshire at least ten different times. I think people were starting to like me. Maybe not.”
Bolton chuckled. “Maybe that’s true for you. I don’t think a person on Earth ever liked me.”
“Well, I…” King cut himself off. “Yeah, you’re probably right.” Both of them broke out into laughter.
“No, Peter,” Bolton said to King. “I don’t think either of us had any real reason to run for President. It would have been a waste of time and money.”
“Almost certainly,” King said.
“Superstars like Perry and Walker, they’re already gone. Even guys like Jindal have fizzled out. We’d be dust in the wind compared to them.”
“I don’t know,” said a man walking up to Bolton and King. It was the man in the fight, the winner, of course. Bob Ehrlich. “Would we have been dust in the wind? Or could we have made a difference?”
Bolton and King rolled their eyes simultaneously, knowing that Ehrlich had complained on and on about his apparently stupid decision not to run for President. King never would have brought it up if he knew Ehrlich was going to be here, too.
“Think of the chaos if we all did it,” he said. He grabbed the 6 ball out of King’s hand and threw it at one of the guys behind him, who was trying to sneak up on him and attack him. “There were, what, seventeen people running at maximum? Add us in, and that’s a full twenty.”
“Twenty-one, with Mike Pence,” said Bolton.
“Oh yeah, I forgot he was in the mix.” Ehrlich took a seat at the bar next to King and Bolton. He was unusually energetic tonight. “Wasn’t Rick Snyder, too?”
“Damn, then we would have had three Ricks. Would have been hilarious,” King said. “But neither of them would have run if they didn’t have significant support, so I think you’re just making a pipe dream. Same if Mitt ran.” Mitt was usually with the three of them, but never went bar-hopping, damn teetotaler. “Mitt Romney 2016 would have reduced the field from seventeen to ten pretty damn quick, I think. He could have saved us.”
“Which is why I didn’t mention him,” Ehrlich said. He motioned to the bartender and got a vodka of his own. “Just us three, added into the race, around the same time Walker declared or so. Then Kasich and Gilmore add in a couple weeks later, and we have twenty people running. Could we have taken down Trump?”
“Or would we have made his lead even greater?” Bolton shook his head. “I like me a good fight,” he said, correctly, because war was his number one favorite thing, “But I just think we would have fragmented voters even more, made Trump look even better.”
“Well, I’m just saying… If people like Pataki and Huckabee still think they can run… I don’t know…” Ehrlich trailed off.
“It’d have been nice,” King said.
But all three had made their choices already, and so they continued to sit at the bar, drinking their vodkas.