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Eight years ago, Hoosier Republicans gathered for their annual spring dinner and heard an endearing speech from First Lady Cheri Daniels, who talked about her love for the Indiana State Fair, ranging from hand-milking cows to flipping pancakes.

It was a prelude to a potential presidential run by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels, whose political career was one of distinct decorum. He never ran a negative TV ad, nor did he vilify his opponents. Several weeks later, the Daniels family decided against a White House bid (who could blame them?), a decision that if you line up a chain of hypotheticals (the governor could have won the GOP nomination, could have defeated President Barack Obama, could have tackled historic entitlement reform) might have clipped the atmosphere that produced President Donald Trump and the coarsened political environment we stew in today.

Thus, we summon Monty Python’s Flying Circus and John Cleese’s famous catch-phrase: And now for something completely different.

That would be Monday night's Republican Spring Dinner, 2019 version. It featured two of President Donald Trump’s ultimate insiders: Corey Lewandowski and Dave Bossie. The former was the first Trump campaign operative. Bossie led Citizens United and became Trump’s deputy campaign manager in 2016.

It was Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that brought Bossie's conservative advocacy group enduring fame (or infamy), with a landmark 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision responsible for unleashing torrents of dark money into the American political system. When I write about last year's $110 million U.S. Senate race (compared to races waged by Sens. Evan Bayh or Dan Coats that were more in the $5 million range) Bossie was the shadowy dark angel.

Lewandowski and Bossie weren't squirting milk or flipping flapjacks. They were promising jihad and flipping the theoretical bird. “The president is going to dismantle whoever the Democrats put up,” said Bossie. “I believe in operation chaos. I’m going to impact every Democrat right up through the convention. I hope they pick Bernie Sanders. Then you’re going to see capitalism versus socialism.”

Moderated by Marty Obst, an operative close to Vice President Mike Pence who heads his advocacy political action committee, Bossie and Lewandowski tore through the American political landscape like a Fujita Scale 5 tornado. They dropped s-bombs, conjured Trump on the "Billy Bush weekend,” revisited "Lyin' Ted" Cruz, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort (now a convicted felon), described former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page as a "freaky lookin' dude," and paid homage to the "hero" Mike Flynn.

With the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia collusion investigation reportedly “imminent,” Bossie made it clear he wants the entire thing released. “We demand the Mueller report be made public,” Bossie said to a smattering of applause. “We deserve to see. We’re going to see the two sets of rules. One set of rules for Donald Trump and one for everybody else.”

In their view, the Deep State has been at work. “Trump was never supposed to win. This was never supposed to be uncovered,” Bossie declared. In his view, the “this” was a “treasonous” coalition of the FBI from Director James Comey, Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein to Andrew McCabe, Peter Stzrok and his lover Lisa Page, along with former CIA Directors John Brennan and James Clapper, all ignoring what they called the “crimes” of Hillary Clinton. At one point, Lewandowski declared, “Rod Rosenstein is a bad guy. They abuse their power because they don’t like our politics. If you think that Comey and Clapper and Brennan and Barack Obama didn’t know about it, you’re naive.”

“If I did it to them, it would be treason,” Lewandowski continued. “Trump was never supposed to win. This was never supposed to be uncovered. That’s what’s going on.”

Not only do they believe Rosenstein, the Republican deputy FBI director who ordered the Mueller probe days after Trump fired Comey, is a villain, but former national security advisor Flynn “is an American patriot and a hero, and they did a number on him.”

Describing Flynn as a “hero” was an odd twist placed before Vice President Pence’s Indiana GOP. Flynn was fired by President Trump just weeks after taking office for lying to Pence over contacts he had with the Russians during the Trump transition, which was headed by the future veep.

Strange times, indeed.

Bossie brought up the “Billy Bush weekend,” in reference to the October 2016 “Access Hollywood” tape that surfaced, many believing it would doom the Trump campaign after the billionaire was heard talking about grabbing women by their privates.

“We’re going into that debate … everybody says it’s over, and the candidate went on stage and delivered a massive blow,” Bossie said of the debate where future First Lady Melania Trump showed up wearing a fuchsia bow. “We brought in all the women who had accused Bill Clinton before." This would include Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick. "It upset the whole entire Clinton operation. It was so effective. It was 99.9 percent Donald J. Trump. Cory and me did .01 percent.”

That, folks, is what's in store for 2020 should Trump survive the Mueller probe.

Brian Howey is publisher of Howey Politics Indiana at www.howeypolitics.com. Find him on Facebook and Twitter @hwypol. The opinions are the writer's.

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Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.