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Taking 2016 to the Schoolyard -- Literally

Republican focus group participants envisioned what the candidates might do if they were fifth graders on the playground.

It's no novelty for political discourse in America to be generally compared to schoolyard antics. But a focus group of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents in St Louis on Tuesday night actually got specific about which role some of the major 2016 candidates would play if they were fifth-graders at recess.

Pollster Peter Hart, who conducted the focus group of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents on behalf of the Annenberg Center for Public Policy, asked participants how they pictured Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz interacting on the playground if they were young middle schoolers.

The test revealed some, well, pretty vivid visuals.

Young Donald Trump, the participants mused, would surely be engaged in some middle-school level wheeling and dealing.

Suggestions for his recess hobbies included "selling candy bars to kids," "setting up a GoFundMe site" and "making a deal to trade lunches."

Another acrobatic image: A mini-Trump defiantly "standing on top of the monkey bars."

One Trump detractor cited the charges of grown-ups in the real world that Trump is a bully, saying that a middle-school Donald would be busily "pushing the smaller kids down."

But a Trump enthusiast slyly countered that the tough-talking fifth-grader would instead be "beating up a sixth grader!"

For this group of GOP base voters, the hypothetical young Hillary Clinton's activities were more universally nefarious - or at least whiny. They included "stealing lunch money," "crying," "scheming," "being a mean girl," "tattling on somebody," and "lecturing somebody."

And a pint-sized Ted Cruz's busy recess would, in the minds of these voters, be mostly innocent, but perhaps flirt on the edge of brown-nosing.

Cruz would be "studying" or "reading the Bible," posited some of the participants.

"He's just playing with the other kids" and "making sure the other kids are included," insisted another pair of fans of the Texas senator.

And one skeptic thought young Cruz might have been every middle school class clown's worst nightmare.

"Giving the teacher an apple," he suggested of Cruz's recess priorities. "Kissing butt."