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RUSH: You know, I don’t go into these debates with any expectations anymore. That’s the key to being able to handle all of this. If you go into these debates expecting your candidate to be treated fairly, you’re gonna be disappointed. Whoever your candidate is, if you go into these debates expecting fairness, however you define it, you’re gonna be disappointed.

I just watch them. I watch them and soak it all up as a sponge. Literally I try to shelve every expectation I’ve got and every hope that I have, whatever they are, and whoever I happen to be pulling for, broom that, too, and just watch it, just take it in as it happened and judge it accordingly.

Here’s my takeaway from last night. We’ll of course fill in blanks and get into this in great detail, but I think Ted Cruz won that debate hands down. I don’t think it’s even close. I think Ted Cruz Ted Cruz was in a different league last night. Ted Cruz was in a different debate than what everybody else was doing, including Kasich. I think Ted Cruz was running rings around everybody in terms of awareness of the issues, knowledge of the issues, mastering whatever it was that was discussed.

Megyn Kelly tried a couple of times to insult him in questions and take him off balance and it didn’t work either time. He did not respond to her in a negative way. He just took her question, answered it, and blew it out of the park. The one question where she said, “So, it looks like in this instance we just can’t trust Ted.” And his answer specified how her question was misleading and had incorrect data in it.

I think it was a polling question on a CNN poll, Trump and 49%, and Cruz pointed out in that poll that he’s the only one beating Hillary in that poll. This is not to say that if you like Trump, if you like Rubio, if you like Kasich that I thought those guys didn’t do well. I’m just telling you: As I watched this thing with no expectations and with no hopes and with no preconceived notions of what was gonna happen, I just thought last night…

Within the context of what happened last night, nothing compared to what’s happened on previous occasions. No baseline from previous debates or appearances from which I’m making comparisons, just within the confines of that debate last night. When Ted Cruz got the question about Detroit — Flint, Michigan — he’s the only guy that got the answer right. Now, the things other people said about it were true, but Ted Cruz is the only guy that got anywhere close to explaining what’s wrong with Detroit. Liberalism! Left-wing policies!

For 50 years, everything that’s going wrong wherever you go in the country, the people that have been running it are left-wing Democrat Party. Wherever they’ve been in charge unchecked, everything’s a mess just like it is in Detroit. I think Cruz’s skills as a debater were on full display last night for anybody to see, but there was a period of time early on in the debate where he was the new Ben Carson, meaning he didn’t speak or wasn’t heard from for easily a half hour.

His sections, his portions of the debate, nobody would call the most entertaining.

The most entertaining portions obviously were between Rubio and Trump. And Trump is entertaining and captivating and dominating ever he is participating, no matter what he says and no matter how he says it. But I really, for the first time, I actually… I don’t know how else to explain this other than to say in terms of the old way that we used to consider qualifications for the presidency, the old way in which we used to analyze competence, Ted Cruz hit a grand-slam home run last night.

But that’s not how we make judgments on these things today.

That’s not a complaint. It’s just an observation. I’m not whining. I do not whine. So that’s my overview. Of course there are intricate elements and details of this thing last night to discuss. We’ll do that while mixing your phone calls in with the program today. Plenty of audio sound bites to review from debate last night as well. One of the items of focus last night based on just my perusal of Drive-By Media coverage, is some people think that Trump flip-flopped in a major way on immigration on the H-1B visa questions and discussion.

There are other people who are expressing incredulity that Trump seemed to not know what “off the record” means, based on his answer about the New York Times. The off-the-record questions came up regarding Trump and his interview off the record with New York Times editorial board. And everybody’s dying to know what he said, because he won’t tell anybody what he said and he won’t release the tapes. And they asked him — the moderators and a number of people challenged him to release the tapes.

“Tell us what you said there, Mr. Trump,” and Trump said, “I have too much respect for ‘off the record.’ I have too much respect. I wouldn’t do it to the other guys. I would hope they wouldn’t do it to me.” And I admit I was scratching my head, because off the record is a protection for the journalists. The candidate in this case or the subject of a news story is totally in control of off the record. If Trump wants to release it, he can. If New York Times does, they are violating a profound journalistic principle.

If they release it — which I think they’ve already done. I think the New York Times is even alluding to this, to BuzzFeed, and getting this whole thing going is a giant violation of journalistic ethics. But Trump himself is in total control. He’s the one that would demand “off the record.” The media doesn’t offer it to you. And if they do, you’ve gotta be very suspicious about it. Very rarely will the media offer you “off the record.” Now, maybe for an editorial board meeting, maybe it’s standard operating procedure to be off the record and everybody knows it going in.

But normally whoever is the subject, whoever’s the interviewee has to request “off the record,” and then the media either agrees to do it or not, in which case the interviewee then decides how much he or she wants to say. And if the media will not go along with a request to go “off the record,” you shut up, has been my experience. The only way you go forward’s if they grant you your request to go “off the record.” But it’s not something that anybody but the interviewee is in control of. So it’s not that the New York Times and Trump have to come to an agreement.

It’s totally up to Trump. It’s like grand jury testimony. Grand jury testimony is secret, private, “off the record,” but if the subject wants to go out and talk about it, the subject can. But the prosecutors can’t and the grand jurors can’t, whoever else is in the room can’t. But if you want to… If you’re being asked to testify, if you’re the witness, you can to go out and talk about what happened. You can. Very, very few do. Because when you get called before grand jury, it’s generally pretty serious — as is this.

You know, it’s interesting that Hillary Clinton’s…

This guy that set up her server has been granted immunity.

And when I first heard that, I said, “That’s not gonna mean anything is going to happen. This guy has no knowledge of anything, other than how the thing was set up.” But then I learned he’s been granted immunity, which told me, “Well, that means there must have been a grand jury. And if there’s a grand jury, that means somebody’s presenting evidence of what Mrs. Clinton did, and this guy is being granted immunity as a means of facilitating the investigation into what Mrs. Clinton did or what Mrs. Clinton asked this guy to do.”

So the existence of a grand jury in this case, that changes the focus of that particular story in a powerful way.


RUSH: Snerdley, if you had to use just one word to describe the debate last night, could you come up with that? I know I’m putting you on the spot here. I’ll give you mine. I’ll give you my word. My word to describe the debate last night is “troubling,” and I’m still troubled by it. I was troubled by that debate last night, and I still am. And I’m still trying to nail, drill down to exactly why. You know, there’s a… Right now — and it was last night, too. There’s a — I don’t know what — feeling of unease. I mean, I laughed at the parts that everybody laughed at, and I watched this, but something about it, I…

I don’t know that it was just one thing about it, but I didn’t… I didn’t finish that debate relishing coming here to talk about it today.


RUSH: No, no. It’s gonna be very interesting to see in the Trump flip-flops on the H-1B visas last night will do him any damage, and we won’t know this. We won’t know until there are actual primary votes taking place, and then we won’t know if it’s specifically a factor if there is… If Trump does not do as well in these upcoming primaries, we’ll have to trust exit poll/entrance poll data as to why. But he did, in many people’s view.

Byron York has a piece in the Washington Examiner: “Confusion Follows Trump Flip-Flop on Key Immigration Issue.” Now, Trump will tell you that the H-1B visa thing is not an immigration issue, had nothing to do with the southern border or the wall or any of that. But here’s… I’ll tell you what happened last night. When I said at the top of the program that Ted Cruz is in a different league last night, Ted Cruz was an IQ factor of 85 ahead of everybody on that stage last night. This H-1B visa thing came up and it was…

You know, Trump’s got it on his website that he thinks that we need to have more people being allowed to stay in the country because we need good workers. Silicon Valley needs good workers. We’re educating these people they get educated and we kick ’em out. We need ’em to stay here. What’s been pointed out is, “No, no, no, no, Mr. Trump. What’s been happening is these H-1B visa people are staying here, and they are getting jobs currently done by Americans. Americans are being forced to train these H-1B visa students, and then they’re being fired after they train them.

“And the H-1B visa students are being hired at much less than the Americans who are being fired were being paid.” And the most recent example of this was a guy at Disney who went public with it. Well, it was Ted Cruz that pointed all this out. Everybody’s flailing away over the apparent flip-flop. It was Cruz that explained to everybody what’s really going on with the H-1B visa, and at another point in the debate after Cruz had answered a question, they went to Trump because something Cruz had said could have been construed…

Even though wasn’t, it could have been construed as an attack on Trump which means he gets 30 seconds to reply, and I think it’s Chris Wallace or Megyn Kelly who said, “Mr. Trump, would you care to reply?” “No, no. I agree with everything Ted said. I agree everything he just said. I agree with it.” So it was… There was a flip-flop. What’s on Trump’s website is not what he ended up saying last night, or vice-versa. I had to delve into it to understand it myself, ’cause it went by so fast, and I’m at a disadvantage anyway.

I have to rely on closed-captioning at these debates, and the captioning is always a couple sentences behind. So I’m trying to mix things I can understand with a word or two I missed and wait for the caption to pick up, then go back to live, and it’s a challenge for me. So that’s why I need to read transcripts later, the next day. But The Daily Caller here has a story: “Trump Campaign Rushes to Clarify Immigration Position Following Debate”

“Donald Trump appeared to indicate a major change in his immigration platform at Thursday’s Fox News Republican debate by implying he wants to expand America’s H-1B visa program. But his campaign released a statement shortly after the event saying that wasn’t true. Claiming that the question posed to Trump by moderator Megyn Kelly related to high-skill immigration solely, the statement states, ‘The H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay.'”

But that only happened on Trump’s website after Ted Cruz pointed it out last night.

Now, Rubio also knows that. He has said it on previous occasions.

But in the debate last night it was Cruz who properly characterized what is happening in the program. The H-1B visa “allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. … The regulations define a ‘specialty occupation’ as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor including but not limited to biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education,” blah, blah.

But Trump’s point seemed to be that the H-1B requirements are being ignored by some companies for some of their foreign workers. So he covered the H-1B visa controversy or discussion on both sides of it. But the reason for the flip-flop was that the latest iteration in the H-1B visa story, he didn’t appear to know last night. I say “didn’t appear to know.” I don’t think he doesn’t know; I just think pressure, everybody gunning for you, who knows what? But it was Cruz that put at all in perspective for everybody, on a number of things, by the way, last night.


Rush: Here’s Cruz in the debate with the question on Detroit. Everybody got this question. What’s wrong with Detroit, what happened to Detroit. And the answers were perfunctory. “Well, you know, it’s a shame, it’s so sad what’s happened to Detroit, such wonderful people, great car industry. We feel so bad about the bad water in Flint, but it’s understandable. Michael Moore’s from there. What would you expect. And we feel terrible for the people.”

When they got to Cruz, question comes from Chris Wallace. “For half a century Detroit was the symbol of America’s industrial might, 300,000 manufacturing jobs in this city. At last count there are now fewer than 30,000 manufacturing jobs here. The unemployment rate in this city’s 11%, twice the national average. Senator Cruz, I know that you have general plans for tax reform, but what specifically would you do to bring manufacturing jobs back to America and train residents of cities like Detroit to do those jobs?”

CRUZ: Detroit is a great city with a magnificent legacy that has been utterly decimated by 60 years of failed left-wing policy.

AUDIENCE: (applause)

CRUZ: In the 1960s, Detroit was the Silicon Valley of America, had a population of two million people, had the highest per capita income in the country. And then for 50 years, left-wing Democrats have pursued destructive tax policies, weak crime policies, and have driven the citizens out.

AUDIENCE: (applause)

CRUZ: Let me say to folks in the media, that is a story that the media ought to be telling (Ding! Ding!) over and over again: The destruction of left-wing policies and the millions who have hurt because of it.

AUDIENCE: (applause)

RUSH: Did you hear that bell go off? The bell you’re supposed to get 60 seconds. That whole bite’s 39 seconds, and the bell went off. The bell went off the minute Cruz starts talking about how the media should be trumpeting this story but isn’t. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. I just realized this now because I didn’t know how long the answer was last night. (interruption) We edited 20 seconds of applause? Okay edited applause, edited applause. Well, play it again. Play it again and let’s see if we can get this thing to 60 seconds. Just hit it again.

CRUZ: Detroit is a great city with a magnificent legacy that has been utterly decimated by 60 years of failed left-wing policy.

AUDIENCE: (applause)

CRUZ: In the 1960s, Detroit was the —

RUSH: Stop the tape! He didn’t wait for the applause to stop. He just kept going. So that doesn’t counts. Keep going.

CRUZ: — Silicon Valley of America, had a population of two million people, had the highest per capita income in the country. And then for 50 years, left-wing Democrats have pursued destructive tax policies, weak crime policies, and have driven the citizens out.

AUDIENCE: (applause)

CRUZ: Let me say to folks in the media, that is a story that the media ought to be telling (Ding! Ding!) over and over again: The destruction of left-wing policies and the millions who have hurt because of it.

AUDIENCE: (applause)

RUSH: Okay. It’s not the applause, but I did hear an edit in there. So I’ll pull back on my accusation the bell went off early. But here’s what happened after this. When that answer was finished, Chris Wallace said, essentially, “That’s all well and good but you didn’t answer my question. What are you gonna do to fix it? What are you gonna do? What kind of policies do you have that are gonna teach people how to do the work again?” And Cruz had the answer.

He rattled it off. He talked about how getting rid of all kinds of regulations — and he specified them — and all kinds of tax cuts — and he specified them — would create massive new incentives for companies to relocate to Detroit because it would be economically advancing to do so. He talked about how those companies would have a leg up in earning a profit because the regulations that are punitive would have been swept away. He had the specific answer to every allegation, every question that he was asked, even with the follow-ups.

“Well, you didn’t answer my question? What are you specifically gonna do?” He had tailored his answer first to fit in the time limit. He was the only guy that said what he wanted to say within the time limit. Kasich? I mean, what time limit? I mean, he was Diarrhea of the Mouth Kasich last night. He just kept going and going and employing. But whenever Cruz was challenged, “You didn’t answer my question, Senator.

“What would you do?” he had the explicit answer to every policy that he thought would work, to revive and rejuvenate Detroit or whatever else the question was about. And he was the only one who did. When it came to policy last night, he was the only one that was even close. And that’s why I say he was in a different league last night, and his IQ was 85 above the average on that stage last night in terms of this kind of answer.


Here’s Jonathan in Ogden, Utah. Great to have you on the program. Hi.

CALLER: Hey, Rush, how you doing? Thanks for having me on.

RUSH: You bet, sir. Great to have you.

CALLER: All right, well, I just wanted to bring up the fact that I completely agree with you, the anger that other people are feeling here and I think especially people are angry with the weakened perception of the military that we’ve had around the world, specifically seeing the soldier — or the sailors had to retreat and go from the Iran government. That was something that really upset me as a member of the military, and I know that because of this specifically and other things, people are wanting a strong commander-in-chief.

My problem is people are saying that Trump is that candidate. But then you get things like he’s saying now, that he’s willing to attack family members of terrorists. And then last night on the debates he goes on to say that not only was he willing to do that, but he was willing to be stronger on all sorts of other issues. And they asked him what if the military says no to that, and he said, “I’m a leader. If I tell people to do it, they’re gonna do it.” And that doesn’t sound like a leader to me. That sounds a fascist.

RUSH: Yeah, I was gonna ask you about that. He said, “They’ll do what I tell ’em to do. I’m a leader. The military will do what I tell ’em to do.”

CALLER: Well, see, the problem that I have with that and the consequences I want to bring out to your viewers and to the American public is, think of the consequences that that brings. Either the military people are gonna be… Like, they’re already fed up with all the political things that happening, all the political experiments. There’s so many good people that are already getting out of the military.

We can’t have more people getting out because they don’t want to face that situation. Then on top of that, you have people that are either gonna say, “You know what? I’m not going to do that,” and then face the consequences of those choices even though they may be right. They may have to go through a court-martial or go through a process that is really going to affect their lives and their careers even if they are right.

RUSH: What did you think — what do you think — about Trump and waterboarding and clearly signaling that they got let this namby-pamby definition of torture stop him from getting what he needs to know from bad guys?

CALLER: Here’s my thought: I couldn’t agree more that we’ve gotta be strong with the effort that we’re making — especially in the Middle East and Libya and all these countries — and go stronger with Russia and North Korea and China. But the problem is when you have a president that would be saying these things, this is the worst consequence that could happen. You now have members of the military that are going to knowingly go into battle, look down heavy lethal weapons and be saying:

“I don’t know whether this person is a real terrorist or a victim of a family. I don’t even know who they are,” and they then have to pull that trigger. We already have so much PTSD, we have so many suicides in our military that the American public is going to ask to elect a leader that’s going to therefore make those members of the military make those choices, and that’s not right. And truly I feel ashamed for anyone that would support that for the United States military.

RUSH: Well, it’s interesting. I didn’t read a whole lot about this today, but I did come across pieces written by two military people who reacted by saying, “No, we won’t. We will not just automatically do what any commander-in-chief says to do.” So your point was probably felt by quite a few people in the military.


Rush: Here’s Trump. This is one of the moments in the debate that had everybody needing vapors, looking for the smelling salts, just right out of the blue there.

TRUMP: I have to say this. I have to say this. He hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. I’ve never heard of this. Look at those hands. Are they small hands? And he referred to my hands, if they’re small, is something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee it.

RUSH: I guarantee you there’s no problem, like people thought there might be a problem. We don’t want to elect a president not well endowed. So Trump’s saying don’t worry, don’t worry, I guarantee you there’s no problem, I guarantee. And everybody, “Ho, ho, Mabel, smelling salts, please, oh, my God, the children, a-ha.” Staying with Trump, Megyn Kelly, “You change your tune on so many things, Mr. Trump, and that has some people saying, what is his core?”

TRUMP: I have a very strong core. But I’ve never seen a successful person who wasn’t flexible, who didn’t have a certain degree of flexibility. You have to have a certain degree of flexibility. You can’t say it’s okay and then you find out it’s not okay and you don’t want to do anything. You have to be flexible because you learn. I really mean it. You have to show a degree of flexibility. If you’re gonna be one way and you think it’s wrong, does that mean the rest of your life you have to go in the wrong direction because you don’t want to change?

RUSH: You gotta be flexible out there. All of this was related to, if not directly attached to, the mysterious tape of Trump’s off-the-record appearance with the New York Times editorial board back on January 5th, which BuzzFeed has leaked that Trump may have told them things about his immigration policy that he is not saying to anybody else, such as maybe he won’t actually deport these 11 million. That’s just an opener, it’s just an opening position.

Now, nobody knows what’s on the tape because Trump was off the record, Trump has not released it, the Times won’t without Trump’s permission, and he says he’s not going to release the tape or allow the New York Times to. So that led to this discussion of, “Well, then how do we know you mean what you mean? It’s being alleged out there that you’re telling the Times editorial board that you may not really be serious about deporting, you may not be serious about the wall, so what is your core?” She said, “How do we know your core, what do you really believe?” And that’s why the question about being flexible came up.

And Megyn Kelly then turned to Rubio and said, “You know, you not only supported the failed immigration reform effort of the Gang of Eight, but you, sir, are still on record as favoring an eventual path to citizenship for those who are here illegally. And in addition, Senator Rubio, you favored in-state tuition for Florida illegal immigrants. Now, you’ve been hitting Trump hard on this flexibility discussion with the New York Times, but his supporters might say at least that his opening stance was tough.”

RUBIO: I absolutely want to solve this issue, and I did the best we could in a Senate that was controlled by liberal Democrats and Harry Reid in the hopes that the House, made up of conservatives, would take it up and make it even stronger. And I said that repeatedly at the time.

RUSH: And this was Trump’s response.

TRUMP: What Marco said is, I understand it, he’s talking about a little give and take and a little negotiation, and, you know what, that’s okay. That’s not the worst thing in the world. There’s nothing wrong with that.

RUSH: If Cruz had answered that Rubio question, you know what he would have said? Well, he might have said “liar.” But he would have said (imitating Cruz), “No, Marco, you did not write that bill hoping the House would fix it. You wrote that bill because you believed in amnesty. You wrote that bill because you agreed with Schumer. And now you’re trying to tell everybody you did the best you could ’cause you’re overwhelmed by those Democrats and you hoped that the House would fix it.”

Trump, unaware of all that, saw an opportunity to add ballast to his own flexibility by saying (imitating Trump), “See? See? Marco said he was being flexible. That’s what you gotta do. I understand it. He’s talking about a little give and take. You know what? It’s okay. That little Marco, he’s right about that. Not the worst thing in the world, there’s nothing wrong with being a little flexible. I really like what little Marco said there.” And little Marco’s standing up there holding up his hands about three inches apart, and Van Jones is at home watching this on CNN. He showed up last night after the debate on CNN, said this.

JONES: I said the last time we were here, I cannot let my children watch these debates. You know, my father was born in poverty, he was born in segregation, he joined the military to get out, we watched this stuff together. It’s important to me. We watched this stuff together. We would read the newspaper together. This was part of raising a family. And you can’t do this anymore.

RUSH: So Van Jones is very, very unhappy, couldn’t watch this with his kids, couldn’t read about it in the newspaper together. I don’t believe is a communist. Read the newspaper? Who reads the newspaper anymore with their kids? Whose kids know what a newspaper is? Right, Brian? It’s gotta be on the iPad, right? (interruption) Well, it’s not that, Mr. Snerdley.

Snerdley said, “What happened in that debate that they’ve kids haven’t already heard four times over that day at school?” It’s not that they haven’t heard it. It’s that it happened within the confines of the exalted presidential debate. No, these kinds of terms, these kinds of discussions and topics shouldn’t be happening in that circumstance. Of course these kids know what this is about, but not there.

Back to Kasich, audio sound bite number 21. Bret Baier said, “Do you buy Romney’s blueprint? Can you say tonight to your Florida supporters that they should vote for Senator Rubio to get a contested convention?”

KASICH: You know, this is so much about process, it frankly is boring to me. I would like it clear, though, since we’re talking about polls, I beat Hillary Clinton by more than anybody, by 11 points, and the reason it happens —

TRUMP: In one poll. In one poll.

KASICH: You know, the reason is because — as the Democrats tell me all the time — I can get the crossover votes. You see, because throughout this campaign I’ve talked about issues. I have never tried to go and get into these kinds of scrums that we’re seeing here on the stage. And people say wherever I go, “You seem to be the adult on the stage.”

RUSH: Every time this debate went off into the area of hands or flexibility or yoga… You heard the yoga line last night, flexibility? Here comes Kasich trying to co-opt the “adult on-the-stage” persona.

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