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Analysis: Trump, Perot, Populism, Conservatism and the Pop Culture

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Cincinnati and Ron. Greetings, with just to the EIB Network. By the way, Ron: Cincinnati, the Bengals, are one of the five teams that do not have a primetime appearance in the upcoming NFL schedule.

CALLER: Ohhhh, you had to mention that, Rush? That was in my talking notes here. First off, it's an honor and privilege to speak to you again, sir.

RUSH: Thank you very much, sir.

CALLER: Yeah. I was gonna say that Cincinnati is one of the harder places to be an NFL fan, but you beat me to it.

RUSH: Yeah, you have your moments.

CALLER: Yeah. We do, and we suffer through it and we're glad to have 'em here. Anyway, Resurrection perspective dittos to you, sir. The reason I'm calling today: You're talking about Trump, and you're saying that some of the Republicans will almost seethe when they hear his name mentioned, but I for one am glad to have him in the discussion at this stage of the game; and the reason I'm glad to have him in it is he's bringing the pop culture audience who otherwise wouldn't be paying attention. You know, they're out watching American Idol and whatever his Apprentice shows are and such, and when they get to the Republican debates and he's out there up on stage with serious candidates -- it's not that he's not serious, but he's got a lot of flaws. But when he's up there and trying to make his points, and he'll make some points, those folks will also be listening to the serious candidates and their arguments and those folks will then be engaged on the right side.

RUSH: Let me ask you a question.

CALLER: Yes, sir.

RUSH: I know Andrew Breitbart has his new book out, and one of his objectives with his media businesses -- Big Government, the websites, the videos that he does -- is he's trying to bring conservatism to the pop culture. Pop culture is totally owned and dominated by the left, as you know.

CALLER: Yes.

RUSH: Movies, books, television shows. The left owns it. He's trying to introduce pop culture conservatism to the fans of pop culture, and so you think Trump might do this. Now: What is Trump saying that might cause people who live in the pop culture to have, say, a favorable view of what you and I believe? It's not a trick question. I want to know what you really think.

CALLER: Well, I think he's bringing credence to the conservative mentality. If they like him as an icon, they recognize his success, they feel like he's a happening guy, and so it's not so --

RUSH: Well, let me jump in here.

CALLER: Yes.

RUSH: I understand what you mean, but I have some problems with that. I mentioned this yesterday. I've had a lot of people ask me, "You know, you were really hard on Perot, why aren't you hard on Trump?" I'll be glad to answer that. They're really not the same in any way, shape, manner, or form other than they both appear to have an appeal to populists, but let's set that aside for just a second.

CALLER: Yeah?

RUSH: If Trump is serious about this -- if I, El Rushbo, determine down the road that Trump is serious -- I'm going to request a meeting. I'm gonna take him aside. I'm gonna say, "Whoever is telling you about conservatism is misleading you a little bit." Conservatives don't want a 25% tariff on comported Chinese goods.

CALLER: Correct.

RUSH: The mainstream conservative base is not concerned with where Obama's birth certificate is. We're concerned with his economics, his destroying the economy.

CALLER: My thoughts --

RUSH: What I'm afraid of is... This is gonna sound strange. I don't mean to say that Trump is not his own man. I don't mean to imply here that he doesn't do his own thinking, but we do know that he's got people who are -- he's got a team, he's got a political team that's, quote, unquote, "advisors." I think there are some people who are giving him a skewed perception of mainstream conservatism. I think he believes that mainstream conservatism is the kooks, is some of the fringe -- and that's not, of course, the case. So, for example, if you think Trump is a great messenger of conservatism to the pop culture crowd then we've gotta make sure that what Trump is articulating is genuine conservatism and not a distorted view of it -- and certainly not populism.

You go to Perot. Perot, I can't tell you number of people who say, "You seem to be taking Trump half seriously, and Trump's saying stuff you ought to be jumping all over. I remember you with Perot, Rush. You were telling us from the get-go, 'Perot is a phony.'" Let me tell you: The differences here are stark. For one thing, we don't know what really is motivating Trump here yet. We know what he says, but we don't really know. With Perot, what we eventually learned is that he really had a problem with George Bush 41 over prisoners of war and a planned release during the Reagan years when Bush 41 was VP.

They asked Perot to fund it and then wouldn't let him go on the rescue mission or series of rescue missions. He had a real problem. Plus when Perot was out there in the nineties, '92, the only conservative media was me. There was no Fox, there was no blogosphere. So Perot was all over C-SPAN, and the places that Perot was going to make speeches were hardened, very serious, C-SPAN-type events. You know, most dull, dry, National Press Club, this kind of stuff. Trump is not doing that. There's a huge difference in the approach to both. There was never any doubt in my mind that Perot was going to be a spoiler, and I remember warning people that he ultimately wasn't going to run -- and, gosh, those days were really fraught with friction here because I had my syndication partners telling me in private meetings, "You know, you're running your audience off. Your audience loves Perot! You need to be positioning yourself as leading the Perot juggernaut." I said, "I'm sorry, this is not me. I'm not a populist. You know, I'm a conservative."

CALLER: Yeah.

RUSH: So there are some still-significant differences. I understand. Look, Trump's got his TV show, The Apprentice. He attracts pop culture stars as guests to appear on that show. He does have a connection to people at pop culture and we are weak there. I don't disagree with your premise on this at all, but we don't want people getting the wrong idea about who conservatives are. In other words, I don't want the pop culture crowd -- and let's acknowledge for a second that they are made up of people who are largely ignorant about us -- we don't want them thinking that the number one thing we care about here is Obama's birth certificate!

CALLER: Yeah.

RUSH: And we do not want conservatism redefined. This has been one of my fears whenever people come along and have this immediate appeal to people that's visceral, that's not really based in thought-out belief but rather just an emotional attachment. That was my fear with McCain. McCain was gonna redefine what conservatism was. I don't want conservatism redefined. Conservatism doesn't need to be redefined. Conservatism will win if it's just tried, if it's just utilized.

CALLER: Yeah.

RUSH: So your premise vis-a-vis the pop culture is very relevant. It just has to make sure that it's an accurate portrayal of what conservatism is.

CALLER: You bet. Hey, am I still here?

RUSH: Yeah.

CALLER: Okay, great. I got one other point. I'm hopeful that he does not turn into a spoiler. I'm hoping that, at the end of the day, his disgust with how Obama is handling our nation will allow him to -- when he does not prevail through the primaries -- get behind the right candidate. Again, with some guidance from conservatives like you and others, you know, get behind the right candidate and bring all the audience that he's brought in then behind the right guy for the right reasons.

RUSH: Well, spoiler is right. You'd have to say if Trump is a spoiler, he's not gonna take Democrat votes away from Obama. That was always at risk with Perot. He was never gonna take votes away from Clinton.

CALLER: Exactly.

RUSH: It was always gonna be the other way around. Look, I'm glad you called out there, Ron, and our condolences on the Bengals and not one primetime appearance in the 2011 season.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: You remember that Trump almost ran for president in 1999 on the Reform Party ticket, and that was the offshoot of Perot's party -- and in 1999 Trump proposed a wealth tax of around 15%, a one-time wealth tax of 15% on everybody's net worth. I think it was limited to people of certain net worth. There was a minimum before the tax applied to you, and the purpose of Trump's 15% net worth tax was to pay off the national debt, reduce it. Now, that isn't conservative. Nor are 25% tariffs on imports from the ChiComs. That isn't conservative. Now, Trump has answered that. He's said, "Well, that's what I would threaten. I'm gonna talk a good game to these guys. They're gonna know they're not sitting in front of a patsy when they're talking to me."

Now, at the time in 1999 if Trump's 15% wealth tax (which, again, was a tax on your net worth) had happened, his tax would have been 700-some-odd-million dollars. He released that figure. His positions today sound very much like Reform Party. That's why a lot of people, I think, are bringing up Perot to me. Because those are the kind of things that Perot was proposing. There are a lot of similarities, if you listen to Trump carefully, between what Trump's saying and what Perot was saying, because they're both oriented here in populism, and by that I mean oriented to "America's getting screwed! America's getting the shaft. We're gonna stop it."

What's added to it, what Perot never said (because it wasn't applicable then) was that Americans are getting the shaft by Americans. Trump is adding to that because Obama is giving us the shaft; he believes that. So he does. He has a message that sounds a lot like what the Reform Party was.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

Susan in Milford, Ohio, I'm glad you waited. You're next on the EIB Network. Hi.

CALLER: Hi. Hi, Rush. I just wanted to say that I'm a Republican and I'm a 50-year-old woman who voted Republican her whole life, and I would definitely vote for Donald Trump. I think he tells it like it is. He says what most people think but are afraid to say.

RUSH: Yeah. Yeah.

CALLER: And I think what's motivating him to run is that he's like the rest of us that are sitting here and can't take it anymore -- Obama ruining our country, bankrupting us -- and I don't think he'll be a spoiler. I think he'll run because he knows he'll win, and I think he cares about the country, and I think he is getting sick of being used by other countries -- and, hey, pay us back what you owe us.

RUSH: What makes you believe this? I'm not challenging. I'm trying to learn.

CALLER: Right.

RUSH: What makes you believe he's serious about running?

CALLER: Because it just seems like I can see it almost in his face that he's just like all of us that are sitting here saying, "I can't take this anymore. We have got to get this guy out of here. We've gotta get somebody in here that will really care about the country and really not try to bankrupt us," and I think he's got enough financial know-how to get us out of this mess. But I also think on a ticket he would definitely need somebody that was a respectable and decent and honorable man to run as vice president; and I think that would be Huckabee, and I think that Huckabee cares enough about Israel, he's an honest man, and I think he would bring integrity back to the White House and we've lost that.

RUSH: He wouldn't be in the White House. He's be up at the vice president's mansion.

CALLER: Well, he would be helping out and he would bring integrity to the ticket, so that's why I think Huckabee would be good for him.

RUSH: Okay. Well, we're taking all this in. I'm fascinated. These kinds of things -- learning how people think, learning how people react to candidates, personalities -- is a fascinating thing to me. Susan here is convinced he's running. Nobody knows. We don't even know if he knows. We don't even know if he has made up his mind whether he's running or not. Now, we do know that he has told NBC that he's not committing to a new season of The Apprentice until he figures out what he's doing. He's even got them hanging. There's an NBC executive out today saying, "There's no way he's running." A nameless NBC exec. "No. We know he's not running. This is just for ratings. He's just out there hyping up The Apprentice. That's all that's going on here." We'll see.

END TRANSCRIPT

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