Conservative strategist and GOP talking head Ana Navarro really doesn’t like Donald Trump.
During a conversation with a room full of Republicans, Navarro said if Trump were the GOP presidential nominee she would be in a corner, curled into a ball and sucking her thumb after she dipped it in whiskey.
Asked who she’d vote for in a matchup between Trump and Hillary Clinton, Navarro responded with “deez nuts.”
And that’s the sort of no-nonsense banter Navarro is known for. She’s a contributor to ABC, CNN and the View. She’s also backing Jeb Bush for the GOP nomination.
But Navarro’s candidate may be in trouble. Bush is polling third in a race with 16 other candidates, according to a CNN poll this week. Trump’s up eight points since August and now sits at 32 percent in the polls. Bush trails with just 9 percent and has fallen four points since August.
“Donald Trump has thrown a kink into this that nobody expected,” Navarro said. “You’re running against an entertainer.”
Trump has flooded media with bombastic remarks insulting immigrants, Mexicans, women and even John McCain. According to Navarro he hasn’t spent a dime on paid media, but has dominated the earned media scene.
Trump calls programs when his name gets brought up and often he’s put right on the air. Navarro’s theory is that’s all part of Trump’s strategy. As soon as media coverage of one of his gaffes starts to lose steam he spews something new and insulting for reporters to banter about.
But Navarro, who advises Bush, isn’t worried too much about Trump’s monopoly over media coverage.
“There’s 17 people running,” Navarro said. “And they’re only talking about two.”
That would be Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. She notes he still has room for improvement, saying he’s come a long way since he first announced his intent to run for the presidency. Navarro particularly wants to see Bush’s debate skills improve. Bush was blasted by pundits following the first GOP debate for his poor performance.
“Trump has had a lot of years practicing being a jerk,” Navarro said. “Jeb is just getting into the business.’
Florida is a winner-take-all state in the Presidential Preference Primary. That means whoever earns the most votes in the state gets all of its 29 electoral votes instead of splitting them with other candidates who fared well.
That could be a gift to Bush, whose home state is Florida and where his name is all over the place as a former governor. But Florida is also home to Marco Rubio. Though the U.S. senator from Miami is polling well behind Bush, he’s still popular in the state and could skim some of the vote away from Bush.
With Trump polling higher and higher, that could pose a problem for Bush in a Florida matchup between him and the reality TV star.
Navarro said it took her a long time to accept Trump as a real candidate. At first she said it seemed like a publicity stunt she and expected him to go away. But now she says he’s clearly not going anywhere and is forced to deal with that.
Looking ahead toward a general election, Navarro said this is really Bush’s last chance. But if he’s not the nominee, she has her eye on others. Navarro listed John Kasich, Carly Fiorina and Rubio as candidates to watch.
Trump wasn’t the only presidential candidate Navarro hated on during the hour and a half discussion Thursday night. Hillary Clinton also drew the pundit’s ire.
Before officially beginning Navarro told the growing crowd she would be asked on The View Friday to name one positive about Clinton. As Navarro sipped from a glass of wine, she asked for suggestions and then laughed when one involved Clinton’s impressive array of pantsuits.
She also said Clinton would be easier to defeat in a general election than Vice President Joe Biden, but would still rather run against Biden.
“Joe Biden has very good relationships in Congress and the Senate,” Navarro said.
But even Clinton would be better than President Barack Obama, according to Navarro.
“She’d probably be better than Obama because it’s hard to be worse.”
Navarro has served as the national co-chair of John McCain’s Hispanic Advisory Council and as national surrogate for his 2008 presidential campaign. Served in the same capacity for Jon Huntsman’s 2012 campaign.
Navarro has served on Jeb Bush’s transition team and was his first director of immigration policy during Bush’s term as governor.