With the general election looking ever more like a Trump-Clinton battle royal, I don’t know what is happening behind the Democratic parapets — but I can imagine.

It’s late. The front door is locked at HRC HQ, but rattles suddenly. “He’s at the gate!” The campaign manager shrieks. Staffers leap.

“Quiet down, Mook. That’s the FedEx guy.” Hillary Clinton stares at poll numbers, and thinks about the jitters running through her crew. Like the Republicans, she had written Donald Trump off as a joke. Then he decimated the field. And now he was coming for her. The last thing she needed was for everyone to fall apart. As it was, half the staff was giddy that Trump appeared to be sewing up the nomination, the other half was terrified. She calls out. “Joel, Amanda, John, Huma — everyone — get in here. Give it to me straight. What are the negatives?”

A functionary clears his throat. “Um — a lot of people really don’t like him. He’s shifted position numerous times. He has insulted minorities, women and even some voters. He plays fast and loose with facts, and his grasp of policy seems squishy.”

“I asked for the negatives. Those all seem like positives for me.”

“They should be. But none of it seems to matter. He draws oceans of new voters, and they seem ready to forgive every misstep.”

”But I’m a better debater, right?” the contender says.

“In a classic sense, yes.”

“And I have more experience in government?”

“Of course.”

“And I could be the first female president!”

“Absolutely.”

“I’ve heard enough,” she says. “We can take this guy.”

The staff disperses, most leaving for the night. The candidate wanders through the dim offices and finds her husband with a clipboard near the storage room. “You think I can beat him, don’t you, Bill?”

“No question,” he replies.

“So what are you doing?” she asks.

“I’m doing what your supporters ought to be doing. Counting canned goods. Because win or lose, it could be a long siege.”


(CNN’s Tom Foreman is the author of "My Year of Running Dangerously")