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RUSH: Listen to Ronald Brownstein here on CNN today. Chris Cuomo said, “I want your thoughts, Ron, on Trump’s attack on George W. Bush.”

BROWNSTEIN: In this debate, Trump was as kind of unbound as we have seen him in any debate. He was as intemperate, unpresidential, belligerent, and iconoclastic in denouncing Bush in language usually heard from Democrats. If he can hold his piece of the coalition after this, it is really an indication of how deep that connection is, how difficult it is to shake it. He really pushed the boundaries of acceptability for a Republican. If he holds it after this, I think that’s gonna be a big statement.

RUSH: Right. But the statement, “If he holds his people after this,” the statement will be just how livid Republicans voters are at the Washington establishment. Now, you may, “Come on, Rush, everybody knows that.” I’m not sure that the establishment yet has an accurate idea of how deep this resentment is. And here’s another thing. The more they learn it the more they resolve to say “screw you.” It used to be — and it’s not that long ago, I could go back to 2002 and give you an example of this. When the voters rejected a party, the party tried in many ways, at any rate, to tell voters they were gonna the change, and they heard, “We hear you, we hear you, we understand.”

There’s none of that anymore. If voters don’t vote the way the party wants, the party says, “Screw you.” And they dig their heels in, the Democrats especially, but I think the Republican establishment, over amnesty and a couple other things. If Trump gains support here, it’s not just about the solid nature of Trump’s support. I’m not trying to diminish that. But it’s also about just how angry people are at Washington. And Trump is the best vessel to display that of all the other Republicans running. Cruz a close second. Now, grab sound bite 26 again. Something else could be going on, however. Here is Trump again this afternoon, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

TRUMP: He is a liar. He apologized to Carson after the event. What good does it do? Carson said, “Yeah, but I lost all those votes,” and he apologized to him after. He should have apologized to me also because, frankly, I would have won. But it doesn’t matter. But he apologized. He said, “I’d like to apologize to you, Ben.” The election is over. And what they should do, if Iowa had any guts, the people from the Republican Party — which they don’t — they should disqualify him from winning Iowa. I really mean it. Because what he did was a fraud.

RUSH: Now, what is this really all about? It’s about Cruz. Why? Why still be going after Cruz? It’s Saturday night, you go after George W. Bush, which Trump has walked back a little bit. I should point that out. He has walked back a tad his criticism of Bush. But he has not walked back his criticism of Cruz on this Ben Carson business at all.

The more I think about it, folks, I am more convinced that what Trump did Saturday night was a politically strategic thing, and that was to go after the fringe leftists in South Carolina who can cross over and vote in the Republican primary. Now, why would Trump want to do that? Is running in a Republican primary. Why would he want — other than, you know, broadening the base or what have you, but I don’t think that’s what Trump’s saying. What’s he doing? I think it’s one of two things. He either wants to smoke the field here, he just wants this over, he wants such a sweeping, domineering win Saturday that it sends the signal this is over.

Or something else is happening. And the something else that’s happening is something that you won’t know about because if it is happening, the media isn’t gonna want to tell you. Conservative or liberal media isn’t gonna want to tell you, and that could be that Ted Cruz is gaining ground. And with Trump continuing to focus on Cruz, it tells me that maybe this is indeed happening. I mean, still going after Cruz on this supposed fraud that happened with Ben Carson? The effort there obviously, the purpose of that is to deal legitimize Cruz as a candidate, in the eyes of voters. There’s no question that that’s what Trump’s appealing to here.

But why? Why worry about Cruz after you go after George W. Bush and Iraq and weapons of mass destruction and 9/11 and all that, then to circle back to Cruz still? Well, I have this story from The Daily Beast. Not The Daily Caller. That’s Chatsworth Osborne Jr.’s site. The Daily Beast is a hard-left sight. “The Secret Army Stumping for Ted Cruz” is the headline here. And the point this story makes is that Ted Cruz keeps outperforming his polling. And he’s getting no press on it.

In fact, I challenge you, like I did, go read any of the standard operating procedure analysis of the Saturday night debate of Cruz. I don’t care who it is. I’m not calling names here. Just go anywhere you want in conservative media that has an establishment bent, and you will read Rubio made people forget his slip-ups in the previous debate, Trump did whatever he did, and they talk about Carson, and when they get to Ted Cruz, they say, “Cruz mostly turned in a solid but unnoticeable performance yet again. Ted Cruz didn’t stand out on Saturday night. Ted Cruz had an off night.”

Never, ever is Cruz credited for being the great debater that he is. Rubio was chided for blowing his chance by that constant repetition to Christie’s questioning. But then the focus Saturday night after people stopped talking about Trump, they went to Rubio and they said — this was on Fox and CNN, the other places — “Yeah, yeah, you know we’re all wondering here if Marco Rubio could make people forget that horrible performance in New Hampshire, and we think, Joe, that he did.”

“Well, thank you, Ted, appreciate your analysis. What do you think, Jane?”

“Yeah, I’d have to agree with you. I think Marco was so damn strong tonight, he actually did make people forget.”

“And what’d you think of Ted Cruz?”

“Well, you know he was there tonight.” But here we have The Daily Beast: “The Secret Army Stumping for Ted Cruz.” Ted Cruz keeps outperforming his polling. He’s getting very little credit or press for it. It’s very much under the radar, and of all places for it to be noticed here, a left-wing website. I’ll just give you a pull quote as an example: “South Carolina politicos describe it as an effective, relentless operation.” This is Cruz and his PACs. “And it has some of CruzÂ’s opponents feeling a little jittery.” An operative for a rival campaign, unnamed, said, “I’ll be very shocked, honestly, if Ted Cruz doesn’t win South Carolina.”

“Trump has led by double digits in all the recent Palmetto State polls. But some are skeptical that his lead is really that commanding. And they point to the different ground games … as evidence for their doubt. Keep the Promise staff explained that the group has been door-knocking across the state, in a few targeted regions and counties, since last November. In early January, those door-knockers started focusing on persuasion: identifying likely Republican primary voters who favor an Evangelical Christian candidate, knocking on their doors, and having conversations aimed at persuading them to back Cruz.”

Another pull quote: “Matt Moore, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party said the PAC may have an even farther reach than the campaign proper since Keep the Promise [the PAC supporting Cruz] is the first and only long-term, large-scale super PAC canvassing operation in the state.” No other candidate has one like this. Then he added, Matt Moore did, chairman, South Carolina Republican Party, “that Keep the Promise is the only super PAC he knows of that has any sort of ground game in the state. Paul Lindsay, a representative for Right to Rise, said his PAC also has a professional canvassing operation that recently moved down from New Hampshire to South Carolina. But it hasnÂ’t made nearly the splash with locals as Keep the Promise.

“And the Keep the Promise team is pretty confident that their ground game tops that of their closest rival, Donald Trump. The mogulÂ’s team has sent RVs of volunteers around the Upstate door-knocking. But Tripp said those efforts are more about marketing than anything else.”

And then there is internal polling out there, Bush campaign and others, which shows that Cruz is slowly, steadily closing in. So here is a possible scenario to explain what happened Saturday night. And by the way, don’t underestimate the political infrastructure Trump has in his inner circle. He has a lot of professional, experienced political operatives, consultants, and advisors. It’s not a shoot-from-the-hip operation per se. By that I mean there are strategic political objectives that are formed and executed.

And it could well be that the reason Trump made his appeal to the Democrats in South Carolina with his approach on Saturday night is because he knows that the South Carolina Republican base is so evangelical, so oriented to somebody like Cruz that he may not think that he can win a majority of that base. So to offset that he has made his appeal via his statement Saturday night to these Democrats and independents who can cross over. I don’t have any doubt that that’s what he did. Now, the “why,” that’s up for grabs. We don’t know. Well, we know that he’s trying to attract ’em, and we know that he wants them.

Is it because his own internal polling shows that he’s not doing all that well with Republican conservatives in South Carolina, or is it that he is and just wants to smoke the field and be done with this and move on into the SEC primaries with it all a formality? Could it be that he’s tired of seeing Jeb Bush on the stage and wants him gone? Could it be…? This was somebody else’s theory, and I don’t think this is right, but this will show you what some people think of Trump. Some people are telling me that they think that he went after Bush simply ’cause [George W.] Bush is showing up today to campaign for Jeb, and that that offends Trump.

“Okay, I got a guy coming in here that’s gonna be ripping me? I got a guy coming in here…?” This is Saturday, Trump’s frame of mind. “I got a guy showing up, an ex-president, to support this lackey? I got a guy with his brother coming in ’cause this guy can’t handle it himself? Jeb can’t get above five points on his own; so he’s gotta bring in big brother? Well, to hell with that! If Bush is coming in here not supporting me, I’m gonna make him pay for it.”

That’s what some people have told me, that this is the way Trump’s mind works. If you’re not supporting him, if you’re coming in to try to get him, he’s gonna preempt you, head you off at the pass, and Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid you. And you have everybody asking, “Who are those guys that just keep coming?” That’s Trump. So there’s all kinds of theories that are all over the board, but there’s no question in my mind now that he did not lose control. That’s the wrong way to say it.

There’s no question in my mind that he meant to say what he said. Maybe he didn’t mean to say it as he said it, the emotional incontinence. But he intended to do it. There’s no question he made a play for crossovers. He’s got a hard-core bunch of supporters. There’s no doubt. It’s the biggest group of hard-core supporters any candidate has out there. But in South Carolina, it may not be enough. We just won’t know, folks. The thing that George Will and others think is that okay, this may be critical mass.

Not the straw that broke the back, but critical mass. This may be the one time too much where Trump has gone off, this time on a revered Republican, and this is going to cause Trump supporters to waver. I don’t think that’s the case. And if I’m right, and if they don’t waver, if Trump doesn’t lose anything because of this, it’s gonna be… The explanation is a testament to how deep the rage is toward the Republican establishment. So we shall see as the week progresses. But it’s clear that Trump is targeting Cruz.

It’s clear that some people are noticing that Cruz, in every one of these things, is outperforming his polling numbers, even winning Iowa. It’s the clear nobody’s reporting this or talking about it. It’s happening totally under the radar. And the reason nobody’s reporting it is ’cause they don’t want to see it. Remember, the establishment may hate Cruz more than they hate Trump. Even after Saturday night. Their hatred for Cruz is institutional. Their hatred for Trump is situational. Big difference.


RUSH: Trump called a press conference a few minutes ago and that press conference is underway. And he is basically reiterating his debate points from Saturday night. He is just tearing into Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz is the biggest liar Trump’s ever known; he’s not qualified to be president. Ted Cruz is a fraud. He may not even be legitimately an American because he was born in Canada. He just really laid it on. He is now back on the Middle East. We shouldn’t be taking people from Syria. He’s doing his greatest hits.

He hit Bush on Iraq yet again. He’s basically restating what were the controversial statements of the performance on Saturday night in the debate with the additional Ted Cruz stuff. That tells me and my highly tuned antennae that Cruz is moving, that there is internal polling data somewhere that somebody has that shows Cruz moving up. Now, The Right Scoop has a story that internal Bush polling is showing this. Just so you know, I’m not making it up out of… Well, I don’t make anything up. I’m just speculating here.

The Right Scoop has a story that internal Bush polling is showing Cruz making “a serious move in South Carolina,” a serious move. And apparently Trump and his people believe it, because this was an-all-out hit job just now on Cruz. I’m sure Cookie is rolling. And hopefully we’ll have some sound bites of this before the program ends. It’s been going on actually before I knew it was a press conference. We could have JIP’d some of it. I thought it was taped interview. But it’s actually the presser.

He’s in Hanahan, South Carolina, and he’s reliving his Middle East and how he prognosticated that. He talked about bin Laden being a bad guy, that we should have killed bin Laden. Oh, that’s another thing: He blamed Bush for not killing bin Laden. That’s Clinton, folks! Rubio got that right. Now, Bush has arrived in South Carolina, and he’s signing books and making appearances for Jeb, which no doubt… I know I’m right about this. This doesn’t sit right with Trump, and so he’s… There are all kinds of explanations for this that are political.

My point to you is, Trump is not insane, and he is… John Podhoretz wrote a column on Sunday in the New York Post saying that Trump was out of control, and I know it looked like it, but I don’t think Trump’s out of control. I think it’s strategic. I think the booing that he received from people he thought were a stacked deck (Jeb donors and Rubio donors) might have caused him to get angrier than he intended to be, and I know you can be saying, “Well, hey, you know, Rush, you gotta get used to that. Presidents have gotta control their temperament.”

You know what I would say to that? I’m telling you: His supporters want more of this. His supporters are dying to say to the establishment what Trump is saying to them. Do not doubt me on this. They’ve got seven years of being ticked off and maybe even more than that, but seven years of no push-back on Obama. Our people think that Obama’s destroying this country, destroying the future for their kids and grandkids, and they can’t get the Republican Party’s ear on this. The Republican Party will not hear them.

The Republican Party will not react that way. The Republican Party doesn’t act like it has anything to defend, and these people are frustrated beyond their ability to express it. Their anger is palpable, and it’s real. And that’s why Trump is not, I don’t think, in serious danger of losing his supporters. I don’t know how to say it any differently than I have. I just… I think this intense… It’s a combination of emotions, too. It’s anger, it’s fear, it’s rage over what Obama and the Democrats have been doing to this country with no push-back.

And, you know, Trump has become the vessel for that outrage.

I mean, I could sit here and say to you that Ted Cruz would be just as legitimate a candidate to support. Trump and Cruz are pretty equal on the… The establishment hates Cruz more than they hate Trump, and that should tell you something. They genuinely fear what Cruz is gonna do, in terms of rewinding and stopping the transformation and doing things the establishment doesn’t want to do. So it’s a fascinating thing to watch go on here, ’cause I’ve never seen a Republican candidate make this direct and broad appeal to Democrats by really ripping into what is assumed to be a revered former Republican president, George W. Bush.

And in South Carolina, he is.


RUSH: Yeah, here it is in even more detail. “An Internal poll for the Jeb Bush supporting Super PAC Right to Rise shows Donald Trump is in first place, with a narrow 26 percent to 24 percent lead over Ted Cruz.” So margin of error, Cruz has moved into a tie with Trump in South Carolina. That’s an internal poll of the Bush campaign. It’s reported at RedState.com. It’s reported at TheRightScoop.com. So this would explain a lot of what happened on Saturday night and what happened today.


RUSH: Here. This will give you a flavor. We have one bite from the Trump press conference this afternoon in Hanahan, South Carolina, talking about Ted Cruz.

TRUMP: He just comes out and boom, boom, boom, absolute lies. Now, he’ll apologize, but I don’t want an apology after the election. If he does it I’m gonna bring a lawsuit because, in my opinion, based on what I’ve learned over the last two, three days, from very top lawyers, he doesn’t even have the right to serve as president or even run as president. So we will bring a lawsuit if he doesn’t straighten his act out. He’s a lying guy, a really lying guy. Some people misrepresent — this guy’s just a plain out liar.

RUSH: So that was a prime focus of Trump’s presser today. He focused on other items as well, and just to repeat, internal Bush polling has Trump at 26 and Cruz at 24 in South Carolina.

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