GOP Establishment Still Eyeing Way to Steal Nomination from Trump or Cruz
Apr 6, 2016
RUSH: I was right. I got back about… Actually, 2:30 this morning I got back. It was our annual Night of the Century cigar dinner in New York City at the Four Seasons restaurant. Another sellout charity event for the Prostate Cancer Foundation led by Michael Milken. These things are one of the most fun nights of the year for me. There’s always a new group of people in addition to the regulars, and it was just a fabulous time. But as I told you, I was unaware of any details. Now, I checked my phone during the course of the evening and I saw what was happening.
I saw that Cruz was winning handily in Wisconsin. I saw that Cruz did win bigger than any of the polls suggested. But until I got out of there and got back on the airplane and was able to turn on television, I didn’t know any of the specifics. I just had the raw numbers. And it’s interesting when you watch it this way. You know the result but you have not been watching the returns all night. So by the time I got on the airplane and turned on TV, it was around — I don’t know — 11:30.
And one of the things that I heard, one of the points that I heard being made was a replay. So I don’t know when during the course of the evening the point was made, but I think this is a fascinating point that I’ll bet you I would have missed or not given a whole lot of weight if I had been watching the progression of events that is Election Night coverage on any network. So you’re watching before the polls close and you listen to them discussing the exit polls, and you can tell.
You can tell who’s gonna win by listening to them talk about the exit polls if you know how to do that. And, of course, I — as a highly trained broadcast specialist — know how to do that. And in fact, before I got off the plane, they were starting on Fox to discuss the exit polls. And I turned to Kathryn. I said, “This is huge. This is a huge Cruz win tonight, just from the way they’re talking about this on Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Oh, and speaking of that, they played a clip of me on Special Report with Bret Baier last night from yesterday’s program leading into the All-Star Panel. They played the clip of me pointing out that Trump, after a bad night, always changes the narrative with an endorsement announcement or something else that is designed to take the attention off of the election results the night before and to re-shift the narrative so that Trump is out ahead of things and looks like he’s got momentum and so forth.
So they played that sound bite. After they played it, Bret Baier said, “Rush Limbaugh talking about Donald Trump and post-coverage behavior, not the Wisconsin primary.” I said, “I talked about the Wisconsin primary all day! I mentioned the Wisconsin primary!” Don’t anybody send him e-mail, will you please? He’s a good guy; he’s a nice guy. He’s a great golfer. He’s like a five handicap. I don’t want to make him mad. I was just… Do not send him any notes, please. It’s not the point.
But to mention this about Trump changing the narrative after a loss was so miss the point because I was not discussing the Wisconsin primary. We did all day yesterday. By the way, I don’t want to be misunderstood here. But I’m reading all this stuff today; it really is fascinating. When you don’t see any of the coverage as it’s happening, and so with everything you read or watch you’re catching up on things that already have happened or already were said, it’s a fascinating way to… I may do this again.
I mean, not fly to New York to miss coverage.
I may not start watching ’til 11 o’clock at night or 11:30 or so. I have not lost my original place. But one of the things I’ve heard is, “Wisconsin. Now, that’s a much, much different place, and Trump’s discovered it’s a much, much different place.” And this… I don’t want to insult Wisconsin, ’cause you know how I love Scott Walker there. So do not knee-jerk here. But… I’m not denying Wisconsin’s special, I’m not denying it’s unique, and I’m not denying there’s a unique conservative activist movement there, but what is also — and the exit polls are gonna show this, by the way.
You hang in there. What was also on display last night was the Cruz strategy playing out. And that is: “You get this to a two-man race, and it’s over. Trump’s not gonna win anymore when it’s just me and Trump,” the theory being that all these Republican primaries have featured 55% to 65% of Republican primary voters voting for somebody other than Trump. But the votes been split by 10, 11, nine, seven candidates. Now we’re down to just basically Cruz and Trump, with Kasich over there mopping up every night.
And that’s one of the big differences… I’m not trying to take anything away from Cruz, either. This is his strategy manifesting itself. It’s a fascinating thing. I must tell you, you Trumpists, I have been amazed over this campaign from the beginning to the end. And this takes me to my first point, so hang on. The Trump campaign has not grown. It’s at 35% every primary, 35, 37. The polling data shows he’s gonna get 35, 37, in the places he’s won. Well, even when he’s lost like last night, he has 35, 37. And there hasn’t been any growth on that.
There hasn’t been any expansion of whatever you’d call the Trump base. They’ve been relying on crossovers in open primaries. But for the acknowledged front-runner to be on a roll, you would think that there would be an expanding number of people voting for Trump. But it’s held steady at 35, 37, and I’m wondering why there hasn’t been an effort to grow the base — or maybe the effort has been that they just think it’s gonna happen as more wins were chalked up and more momentum was developed. But Trump hasn’t won anything in a month now, right?
Is this the fourth or fifth caucus, primary, whatever, in a row that Trump has not won? And yet this is what I saw last night, one of the first things. I said, “What does this have to do with anything?” I mean, can everybody agree that last night, Cruz wins decidedly? You want to call it maybe even a landslide for Ted Cruz? I’m talking the vote. The delegates, too. But it’s a Cruz landslide last night. (interruption) You don’t want to call it a Cruz landslide? Well, I’m gonna call it a Cruz landslide. But it was a… (interruption)
I’m not talking about the delegates. I’m talking about the percentage of the vote, the turnout. It was a skunk. The polling data had Trump anywhere from, you know, down 4.5 to 10, and Cruz wins by 13? In anybody’s game, that’s a landslide. I know the delegates. Trump, what? He gets six, and Cruz gets…? But everybody knows now. Trump had to win that last night. He pretty much had to win that in order to get to 1,237 before we get to the convention. This is what I noticed.
Of all this, I mean, the story last night is this massive Cruz win, right? The story, accordingly, ought to be something along the lines of what a bad night it was for Trump, what a disappointing night it was for Trump, what a maybe devastating night it was for Trump. Particularly on networks that doesn’t like Trump, particularly places where they’ve got people that really don’t like Trump. And, of course, they have people that really love Trump at the same time. So I heard two things.
I heard Karl Rove say that what matters after last night is the growing gap between Trump and non-Trump. I said, “What? That’s the takeaway, the growing gap between Trump and non-Trump?” So I listened even closer, and the point was there was almost an amazement that even in defeat Trump did so well, that even in defeat Trump holds onto his base, that even in defeat Trump’s voters do not abandon him. And that was considered impressive. I said, “Now, wait a second. This is… In anybody’s ballgame, this is a huge Ted Cruz win.
This is a massive Ted Cruz win in a lot of ways. In analyzing how it happened — great ground game, terrific organization, in any way you want to define it — it was a great Cruz win. And yet here’s Rove talking about that what matters was the growing gap between Trump and non-Trump. And I think what that means is exactly what I have been warning everybody that the establishment is toying around with. I don’t think they’re committed to it yet. But we heard… This another thing.
Flying home last night I heard there was a super-secret meeting at the RNC with a bunch of operatives, and they were planning delegate rules behavior, strategy for the convention. So, you know, I’m putting these things together. What matters is the growing gap, not this big Cruz win, not the fact that Trump lost. No, no, no, what matters is this growing gap. I think what it means is that the establishment is still toying with the idea, they’re exploring the possibility of denying both these guys the nomination if neither gets to 1,237.
That’s what I think this means. And for that to be an observation — like I say, I’m not sure I would even pick this up had I been watching from the beginning of the night and this just was in context — it might have stuck out, but it really stuck out — get on the airplane, I know Cruz wins, but I don’t know anything else. I haven’t heard exit polls, official, I know nothing. I just know the raw numbers, and I start watching things that are being replayed, and I, “Oh, that’s the takeaway? I would have never thought that’s the takeaway. Why is that the takeaway?”
I’m telling you, I don’t think it’s a fait accompli yet, I don’t think they’ve decided to do it, but I know they’re toying with this idea of coming up with rules that essentially will disqualify both Cruz and Trump if neither gets to 1,237 on the basis that the people have spoken, the Democratic process pled out. We have primaries and we have gazillions and gazillions of people voting, and we did not get a winner. Therefore, both candidates have been rejected by the people. I know there are people in the party trying to see if they can make that happen.
And then I heard a sound bite from Dr. Krauthammer. And it, in its own way, parrots what Karl Rove was saying. Last night, America’s Election Headquarters, special coverage of the Wisconsin primary. Why do I hear Hail to the Chief in the background? Anyway, Megyn Kelly speaking with Dr. Krauthammer about what it all means, and this is what Dr. Krauthammer says.
KRAUTHAMMER: He runs in a state where he’s up against a popular governor, up against very sophisticated, very influential local talk radio, up against a ton of money. And on top of all that it comes after the worst two weeks of the campaign. In spite of all of that, Trump comes in with the high thirties, and he has the most rock-solid floor of support of any candidate in memory. There’s something about his support that is so solid that, despite the loss, in the face of all this, it shows a remarkable staying power.
RUSH: Whoa! Whoa! Here you have a giant Ted Cruz win and the take away is Trump staying power when Trump has just been shellacked. So I’m saying, what’s going on here? And I remember what Rove had said, and so I’m — I grant you, I’m extrapolating and assuming — this is kind of strange on the Democrat — Hillary Clinton hasn’t won in, what, how long has it been since she won anything? This Crazy Bernie, who apparently doesn’t know anything, you hear the New York Daily News interview, “Hey, Bernie, how you gonna do X?”
(imitating Bernie) “I don’t know. I don’t know. But I know we should do it.”
Everybody’s stunned, on the Democrat side. They’re blown away. They can’t believe the guy readily admitted such ignorance. He doesn’t know how he’s gonna do anything that he believes needs to be done. He hasn’t the slightest idea. Yet the guy keeps winning, but you would never know that watching the coverage on the Democrat side. Bernie Sanders keeps winning. It’s the only place on the Democrat side where there is any excitement, where there is any pulse, where there’s any drama.
And poor Bernie, every primary, “Hillary Clinton cements her lead, superdelegates added.” She hasn’t won anything. Obviously the fix is in on Democratic side, which we all know. The fix is in. It’s been in. I told you way back last summer that there’s no way Bernie Sanders is gonna get the nomination no matter what they had to do, but the guy keeps winning and winning and winning and she keeps getting the delegates.
On the Republican side, whenever there’s a win, I mean, they react to the win, and they talk about what the win means. Like last night there were a lot of people talking about, you know, this resets everything. This is the worst thing that could happen for Trump, this almost erases everything that happened beforehand. Except for Rove and Krauthammer who are talking about how solid Trump’s base is, how unwavering it is, how it isn’t dissipating, and the gap between that and Cruz. And I thought, okay, what’s actually the takeaway here? And I think I got it.
Hillary Clinton has lost seven of the last eight contests, folks. If any front-runner on the Republican side had lost seven of the last eight, you know what the coverage of that front-runner would be? And with Hillary there isn’t any coverage, other than, “Hey, isn’t it cute what Bernie’s doing? Hey, isn’t it kind of fun to watch what old Bernie’s doing?” But in terms of having any meaning, zip, zero, nada.
RUSH: Okay, now, one other thing about this. I then later saw Megyn Kelly making the same point about Trump’s solid base of support. They marveled at it, Dr. Krauthammer and Megyn Kelly and Rove were marveling that, even when Trump loses, he holds onto his 35, whatever it is, 36% of the vote. Now, folks, I can’t help but observe something here. I have been making that point for I don’t know how long.
I’ve been observing that Trump’s support is what it is. I’ve been explaining it. I’ve been trying to make people who don’t understand it understand it. I’ve been telling people who these 35% are and why they’re there, and every time I did, you know what happened? I was accused of implicitly endorsing Trump. People accused me of secretly endorsing Trump, trying to hide my endorsement, favoring Trump, when all I was doing was sober analysis.
And then last night Dr. Krauthammer and Karl Rove and even Megyn come along and they make it is same observation I’ve been making and I haven’t heard anybody say, “My gosh, they were endorsing Trump last night, did you see that?” And nobody will say that. Just a little observation.
One of my staff, you know what they just said to me? One of my own staff, I sign the paychecks, do you know what they said to me during the break? “Mr. Limbaugh, you sound particularly giddy over this result last night. Anything you want to add?” My own staff treating me this way. No. The staff’s not relieved. They’re panicked. My own staff. I mean, my staff runs the gamut, too. We’re not all monolithic here.
Am I relieved? No, no, no, no. This isn’t over by a long shot. There is so much left to go here that nobody’s gonna — Look, we had a lull of two weeks, we had to fill the lull with a bunch of polling data, predictions, analysis, now we got a hard result last night. It changes everything again just like I told you.
So now you got people saying it’s over. It’s over for Trump. He no way is gonna get to 1,237. No way he’s gonna win ’cause Cruz is running rings around him in the delegate level. Cruz is going out there buying delegates, sobering delegates. He’s getting all these great relationships with delegates. Trump closed his offices, Trump this, Trump that. Nobody knows what’s gonna happen here. I may have to cancel my annual guy golf trip in early June ’cause this isn’t gonna be over by then. No, I’m not complaining. I’m just telling you.
RUSH: By the way, going back to Dr. Krauthammer, it could well be that the reason he was impressed that Trump’s support remained 35, 36, whatever, it may well be that he’s shocked that Trump didn’t lose anything despite the bad two weeks. Meaning, there’s nothing that’s gonna take support away from Trump, which is something else I’ve been telling everybody.
RUSH: A couple of sound bites here and a repeat of the Dr. Krauthammer sound bite. You know I made an observation last night late in the night when I was first hearing any news. Both Karl Rove and Dr. Krauthammer both thought that one of the most important points of the night was that Trump held his base, thought it was incredible. I thought that’s a strange take given that Ted Cruz just had a blowout win here to all of a sudden talk about the solidity of Trump’s base.
I’ve been telling people about Trump’s base, his supporters, since last fall. I know who they are, I know why they’re there, and I have also made it clear that there’s not a soul on earth that can talk them out of supporting Trump. There’s not a soul on. There’s nobody in the world on any talk show, there’s nobody on television, there’s nobody in the White House, there’s nobody in Hollywood that can convince a Trump voter to abandon him.
The only person that can make that happen is Trump. You remember. I’ve described this bond of support that Trump has with his people that even winning candidates sometimes do not have. It is an incredible thing. I’ve had a lot of people think, in saying such things, that I am implying an endorsement, which I wasn’t. I’m merely explaining.
So last night we had Rove and Krauthammer and even Megyn Kelly all remarking on this, as though it might have been the first time they noticed. And I think I now know what this might be about. Nobody is accusing them, by the way, of implicitly endorsing Trump by speaking glowingly of the solidity of his support. I actually think what it’s rooted in is this. I think a lot of people don’t like Trump and are thinking that after this two weeks, that there’s gonna be a lot of Trump support leave him.
And if you look at the things that they think might make that happen, okay, the Heidi Cruz retweet photo. The people I’m talking about probably believe that even the most rabid of Trump supporters would find that objectionable, and some of them might abandon him. And then the whole Michelle Fields controversy where Trump’s campaign manager has now been charged with misdemeanor battery over grabbing a female infobabe and pulling her out of line to the point that she says he bruised her arm, and some of the other unflattering things that they think Trump has said about women. So the primary comes last night, and Trump’s support was rock solid. His usual 30, 35% was right there, 37%. Cruz happened to best it by 13. I think they were probably stunned.
I think a lot of these people expect at some point that Trump can be so bad, so reprehensible, so mean, so coarse, whatever, that his supporters are gonna abandon him. And I’m telling you it’s not — and I think they’re awaking to that now. I think they’re realizing that isn’t gonna happen. And I’ll tell you why that matters. That matters going to the convention. These people are all gonna be needed to beat Hillary Clinton. Everybody voting in these Republican primaries are gonna be needed.
Our first caller of the day claiming there’s no way he can vote for Trump, he’ll not vote, which is a vote for Hillary. That’s not gonna work. Attitudes like that are gonna elect Hillary Clinton. And even people in the Republican side, commentariat, they’re starting to figure out now that whatever happens with Trump, you better not have his supporters end up thinking he’s been screwed, because if that happens, you are talking about a much larger number of people than anybody wants to contemplate just staying home or actively working for the opposition. Don’t think that wouldn’t happen, either.
If Trump’s supporters think that he’s being sabotaged one way or the other, don’t be surprised if some of them actively work for Hillary Clinton just to stick it. So the establishment has to be very careful how they’re gonna do this. And I think a lot of these people now who expected Trump to start fading, they’ve expected that from June 16th. They expect with every controversial statement Trump’s gonna start losing support, and he’s not. And even after these past two weeks he didn’t lose. Now, he didn’t add to it, but he didn’t lose anybody, and I think they’re blown away by it.
Here is David Axelrod. Let me give you a couple of Democrat analysts disguised as journalists talking about it. This is CNN Anderson Cooper last night. We have David Axelrod, who ran Obama’s campaign, Ronald Brownstein of the National Journal, and Gloria Borger with this exchange about the establishment and what they might do in order to prevent the party blowing up at the convention.
AXELROD: Can you bypass the number one finisher, the number two finisher, and pick someone who didn’t run at all and not have a complete revolt within your party? The party establishment may try and do that because they may reason that that is less dangerous than having Donald Trump as the nominee.
BROWNSTEIN: And they’re not sure Cruz is much better.
AXELROD: There’s a very angry Republican electorate, and what would certify their anger more than the party establishment saying, “You know what, thanks for participating, we’re really glad that you’ve cast your votes, now we’ll do what we’re gonna do.”
BORGER: Right. The party may decide to do it if they say to Trump, “Okay, we’re not gonna go with you.”
RUSH: Okay. So these three think that the establishment would be committing suicide but that they might do it anyway. They so detest Trump that they might commit suicide anyway by picking somebody that didn’t run. You know, the name Paul Ryan keeps popping up, and others. So they’re discussing whether or not the party would do this, and they obviously conclude that they might do it just to prevent Trump from getting control, which, folks, I’ve never doubted that possibility, primarily because of what the establishment is.
People like this just don’t sit idly by and let a bunch of peasants with pitchforks come in and take over. They’re just not gonna do it. But some people think that clearer heads will prevail and they will realize that if they try anything like that, that they’re actually blowing off millions of potential voters.
But I’m here to tell you, there are some establishment members who are perfectly fine, if they could reconstitute a Republican Party that had no pro-lifers in it, they would do it. If they could reconstitute a Republican Party that had no social values interested, they would do it in a minute. If it meant they didn’t win the White House for another generation, they would do it. As long as the establishment kept itself together.
Here’s F. Chuck Todd and a former Republican, Nicole Wallace. She worked the Bush White House. Basically what this bite is, this is on the Today show today, inside joke among Washington establishment Republicans is it’s better to lose with Cruz. Savannah Guthrie says, “Was this a big night for Ted Cruz or for the stop Trump forces? ‘Cause I see northeastern states coming up that wouldn’t typical be Cruz country.”
AXELROD: Lindsey Graham is probably the best perspective. He puts out a tweet that says, “Congratulations, Ted Cruz. We’ve done it. We’re gonna be able to deny Donald Trump a majority at the convention.” It wasn’t, “Congratulations, Ted Cruz. You’re on your way to becoming the next president of the United States.”
WALLACE: He came and sat with us and said that it is more important to maintain the principles and the dignity and the honor of the conservative movement with someone like Ted Cruz who he acknowledged may lose in November than to roll the dice with someone like Donald Trump. I shared this rumor, there’s talk in Washington that “lose with Cruz” is becoming a bit of a punch line.
BROWNSTEIN: Better to lose with Cruz.
WALLACE: Better to lose with Cruz.
RUSH: Well, she’s establishment. I mean, you may not like hearing that, but she is. She is part of the establishment establishment. So if she says that there are jokes running around inside the establishment with a punch line “better to lose with Cruz,” then you’ve gotta believe that some people are indeed actually saying so. It’s an interesting observation from F. Chuck Todd about Lindsey Grahamnesty. “Hey, Senator Cruz, we’re on the way here to an open convention. We’re on the way to denying Trump.” Not, “Congratulations, Senator. We’re on the way to you winning the nomination.”