WASHINGTON -- As the Republican presidential candidates prepare to take the stage for their fifth primary debate on Tuesday night, the grey beards of the party must surely be asking themselves how in the world it got to this point.
A braggadocios billionaire with a penchant for making sexist digs and saying offensive things about minority groups is the indisputable frontrunner. This, in a cycle that began with the party saying its long-term viability depended on making inroads with women and minorities, in addition to not being cast as the party of the elite.
Donald Trump has indeed taken the GOP in a direction that's left many in the party deeply uncomfortable. But the story of the 2016 campaign is not just about his rise. It's also about the failures of other candidates (cough, Jeb Bush), the abandonment of immigration reform, the preparations being made for a general election matchup against Hillary Clinton and all the eyebrow-raising comments in between.
In the latest Drinking & Talking, former Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.), Mitt Romney's 2012 deputy campaign manager Katie Packer, the Wall Street Journal's Reid Epstein and the Weekly Standard's Mark Hemingway discuss all that. They also tackle the weighty issues like Marco Rubio's swoon-y looks, the function of pyramids in Egypt and how, exactly, Romney ended up singing "God Bless America" so off key during a campaign stop in The Villages.
The discussion can be viewed above. An an index of it -- as well as an audio version of the full episode -- is below:
00:45 -- The line from Mitt Romney to Donald Trump
05:35 -- Seriously, what happened to Jeb Bush? And all the other governors for that matter?
11:26 -- The Republican base versus the Republican donor class
13:46 -- The Hillary Clinton playbook
17:46 -- The most eyebrow-raising moments of the primary ... so far
With Reporting By Adriana Usero and Christine Connetta