RUSH: People are already taking a stab at answering my question here, and I really haven’t framed it specifically, but it’s okay. Take your stab at it. I’m just gonna tell you, the reason that Cruz, as a conservative, is not triumphing in this has nothing to do with the fact that conservatism is a minority. It has nothing to do with the fact that people are not conservative. That’s what makes it intriguing.
Conservatism’s not losing membership. Conservatism is not weakening. Conservatism’s not disbanding. That’s not a factor here. That’s what makes the answer to the question, the question itself, so fascinating. ‘Cause for the longest time so many — and not just in the conservative intelligentsia, not just the conservative intellectuals in the media. But average, ordinary, run-of-the-mill conservative men and women all across the country thought that all it would take is a legitimate conservative who could explain it, was cheerful, was articulate, because we have the greatest opportunity to contrast ourselves with liberalism and the destruction that they bring. And it hasn’t fallen out that way. There are reasons for it, but it’s not because conservatism is, per se, in trouble. There are other factors here.
RUSH: Joe in Los Angeles. It’s great to have you up first today, sir. Hi.
CALLER: Hey, Rush. It’s a pleasure to talk to you.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: I’ve listened to you over the years as a big fan of Nile Rodgers, by the way, who I saw performing with Duran Duran. I wish you’d have the opportunity to see them when they were touring with Chic and Nile Rodgers and Duran Duran. But all that aside, the question is this: How can somebody like Trump who calls Ted “Lyin’ Ted,” even though I’ve documented… I mean, I’ve got five examples of lies that Trump has told here. I don’t even want to go into ’em.
RUSH: Oh, Cruz can give you 13. Cruz can give you 13 examples where Trump policy is identical to Hillary. I have those sound bites coming up.
CALLER: Right. But isn’t it also basically…? I mean, in the beginning Trump’s policies have all been cheap imitations of Cruz’s policies on conservatism, and now him running in the eastern states, he switched over to cheap imitation of liberal policies with allowing men in the ladies’ rooms and —
CALLER: — changing —
RUSH: All right.
CALLER: — having the Republicans kick his position out on abortion. So it’s just insane, really. I mean, he’s not even as strong as Cruz on amnesty. His touchback amnesty is a lot weaker than Cruz. He’s probably gonna split on that. He already told the New York Times reporter something to that effect.
RUSH: Okay, look. Let’s —
CALLER: So the question is: Why?
RUSH: Let’s just stipulate this. Let’s just stipulate. Why, then, is Trump leading this race and Cruz not?
CALLER: Well, very simple. It’s the image. Trump has a pre-established image. He’s had a TV show where he’s always the boss.
RUSH: Well, yeah.
CALLER: Having people in challenges, judging people in challenges that he himself could never pass, in marketing challenges. He is —
RUSH: Irrelevant. It’s irrelevant. You mean the way he judges people on his TV show, The Apprentice, and fires them? He couldn’t measure up on his own show, is that your point?
CALLER: No, no. That’s not the point. The point is that he has this… He has an image of being a fighter. It’s the analogy that you had that cracked me up where you call an exterminator. He doesn’t get the job done — he doesn’t get the rats out of your attic — and now all of a sudden there’s somebody who comes along who is kind of gruff and says he’s gonna get those damn rats out of your attic, and you believe him. Well, it’s partially that. He is seen as a fighter. But it’s also that he does have pre-established images as a fighter, and even though he’s completely wrong on his policies, his swift —
RUSH: Wait. Hold it a minute, see? I’m gonna have to, I guess, specify my question even more. His supporters don’t think he’s wrong. His supporters agree with it, and there are a lot of ’em. His supporters like him for a whole host of reasons. You know what I might do? I might try, in a paragraph, to summarize my six-month-long explanation of why people support Trump. I could probably do it. I think I could probably do it if I think about it. I could probably put it together at the break at the top of the hour.
But, you know, you say he’s wrong on policy here and there and he adopts this message for Northeastern states and then a different message here. Well, if you understand that presidential elections are situational and not ideological, and if you stop and think about that, it might help you understand how come the Clintons won twice and why Obama wins. Obama’s not even thought of as a liberal by people who voted for him. Not a lot of them.
I mean, to the hardcore leftists, yeah, he’s that and more. But to the low-information crowd that elected him, they weren’t electing a liberal. They elected somebody opposed… They might have been electing somebody that they thought was not a conservative because of the branding that Republican and conservatism has. But Obama was responding to certain circumstances at the moment like the Iraq war, and he was able to position himself in a situational way and not even have to run as an ideologue.
And the people were voting… It didn’t matter whether he was right or wrong on some of the stuff. Like you’re talking about Trump being wrong on policy here. You’re getting way past that area where people make their attachments. By the way, some of this is new to me. These are new realizations that I have arrived at while studying this whole campaign as it began last summer. Now I gotta take a break. Joe, I appreciate the call. I love hearing from people from the Left Coast.
RUSH: You know, folks, this campaign… I found myself today, in a moment of solitude, feeling sorry for a lot of people. And I don’t mean in a critical or negative way. I was genuinely sorry for a lot of people who’ve just devoted their lives to the triumph of ideological conservatism.
They’ve given everything they have to it. It has been, for many of those people, a singular focus. They have written. They have studied. They have tried to persuade. They’ve taught, they’ve… And this year, they thought — many of them — that the closest thing to the great conservative candidate finally had surfaced; that was Ted Cruz. And it just isn’t… It’s not working out the way a lot of people hoped, the way a lot of people thought.
And a lot of people are scratching their heads trying to explain it and understand it. And I ran across… I was reading today a piece by Bill Kristol in the Weekly Standard. What he essential has done here, is he has reprinted a memo written on April 24th by a man named Rich Danker, who is described here as “a bright young conservative operative who ran the Lone Star Committee, an independent expenditure effort on behalf of Ted Cruz.”
It’s a campaign organization, fundraising, spending group with the objective of getting Ted Cruz elected. It’s a multipage memo that Mr. Danker has written, and it analyzes this presidential race, but it even goes beyond that. And it’s got some incredible insights. I excerpted some that I want to share with you. The title of the memo is, “The 2016 Republican Race.” Now, the parts that I’m excerpting here to share with you are those parts…
Remember, this is a Cruz organization. It’s a guy running a Cruz organization sending a memo out to others in the organization to explain to them what’s happened here. “Trump’s simple, straightforward strategy of trying to win in every state, take as much free media as possible, have an inclusion attitude toward getting voters, and appear in front of as many people as possible proved to be sledgehammer against the old way. And unlike just about every other past self-funder, Trump did not let his campaign take him for a ride.”
Now, let me put this in context, what Mr. Danker here is explaining. He has just explained the Cruz strategy, which is to realize you can win some states and you can’t win others; so you ignore the states you can’t win. You put your resources toward the states that you can win, in primaries here, and you put your ground game in place. You come up with your message. You tailor your message to every particular state you’re going to. You modify it.
You basically have one stump speech, you give it over and over again, and that’s the playbook. And Mr. Danker says that cannot possibly compete. And that’s the standard, ordinary way of doing things. That’s a Republican consultant’s way of doing things. That’s the playbook, and it can’t compete with somebody likable Donald Trump whose strategy was entirely Trump. Trump said, “I’m just gonna win every state. I’m gonna win every state; I’m gonna win every voter.
“I’m gonna reach every voter. I’m gonna do as many public appearances I can. Every appearance I do is gonna be different. I’m gonna make fun of my opponents! I’m gonna make fun of them. I’m gonna do this! I’m gonna. I’m just gonna break every rule in the book, and I’m gonna just shoot for every possible voter I can get. I don’t believe in this regional business! I don’t think there’s a state that I can’t win. I don’t think there’s a state that I should ignore. I’m going for the whole enchilada. I’m gonna smother this nation. I’m gonna flood the nation. I’m gonna flood the zone, put myself out there, and see what happens.”
Mr. Danker says that that is one of the — think nobody saw it coming, nobody in professional politics has the slightest idea how to compete with it because it’s not in the formula. Back to his memo here: “Political professionals have gotten so much power in presidential campaigns that they have diluted the candidates of a message and put up barriers to getting votes. They convince the candidates to run from most media interviews for fear of a gaffe.”
Or they encourage the candidates to stick to a stump speech that has been written after all kinds of focus grouping and after all kinds of polling. So rather than the candidate being who he is, a consultant creates a candidate based on the consultants’ polling, based on the consultants’ focus grouping, in state after state, in maybe precinct after precinct. You tailor a message not who the candidate is and not what the candidate believes, but what your polling makes you believe voters in a certain area want to hear.
Then you put those words in your candidate’s mouth, and you have him say it over and over and over again, same stump speech, the media gets tired of covering it. The media doesn’t cover you every time, ’cause they’ve heard it all again, they’ve heard it all before, there’s nothing new there. You’re not drawing any big crowds with this, and that’s not the purpose. Your purpose is to get little media hits here and there, show up now and then on national news, show up big on local news, making sure that you’re poll-driven, focus-group message gets pounded and pounded and pounded.
And while all this is going on, the candidate never has a chance to develop as a human being, because consultants turn them into robots. Consultants turn them into automatons whose first priority is not to screw up, whose first objective is not to go out there and say something that you’re going to be regretting. Don’t make a gaffe. Everything is defensive. Everything is negative. You end up with a boring, limited stump speech, and the reason that is believed is because the more times you say something, the greater the impact, is the theory.
So you have your stump speech with whatever you believe on immigration and whatever you believe on taxes and whatever you believe, so you end up saying 15,000 times, “My first day in office I’m gonna abolish the IRS. My first day in office I’m gonna abolish, I’m gonna rip it apart page by page, Obamacare,” you say that a thousand times, and you end up being an automaton, a robot that doesn’t appear to be real to people.
You end up slicing and dicing voters so that virtually everything the candidate says is geared toward an interest group rather than the electorate at large. You’re focus-grouping interest groups, you’re focus-grouping women here, men over here, immigrants here, Hispanics there, you tailor your message. Is this not what politics has in fact become? And it’s turned everybody off, it’s become predictable, and worst of all, it isn’t believable.
And you wonder after a while, where’s the real guy here? Why does every position sound identical? I just heard the same words last week, yesterday, that I’m gonna hear tomorrow. Being stage managed, you see, gives power to the consultants. Yes, you see, it’s how the consultants take credit for victory. The consultants turn the candidates into essentially robots articulating the words the consultants have focus grouped and researched. It makes the candidate more dependent on staff and vendors to navigate them through the torture chamber that is an election campaign.
The consultants, as far as the media is concerned, the consultants become the smart people and the candidate becomes a commodity. And the consults do this on purpose. It’s how they get paid. It’s how they get their reputations. It’s how they stay in charge of campaigns, stay in charge of issues, stay in charge of things that dominate campaigns.
And more importantly, this attitude is shared by political media, which wants to report on candidates this way. It’s easier. You don’t have to do any work. You know what the candidate’s gonna say, the stump speech is what it is, where the candidate is is the only thing that changes. Write your story, file it, you’re done with it.
But Trump, of course, is none of that. Trump understood that presidential elections are situational, not ideological. Therefore, the candidate who wins the primary and the general election is usually the one who best applies their ideological outlook to the issues of the day. So what does that mean, situational versus ideological and applying your ideological outlook to the issues of the day?
Well, rather than announcing at every speech, “And I’m going to make sure that conservative values triumph in this country,” you simply stake out your position on an issue that is conservative. You don’t call it conservative. You just tell people what it is, you tell ’em you’re gonna do it and people end up applauding it and that’s how you get your message across.
And in this guy’s opinion, Rich Danker, in his opinion Trump has actually made a great connection with conservatives than Cruz has in many places around the country for these very specific reasons that he mentions in his memo here.
I have to take a break.
RUSH: One more paragraph here from Rich Danker. Now, again he runs the Lone Star Committee, which is a financial organization devoted to the election of Ted Cruz. So it’s a pro-Cruz outfit, and it’s excerpts from a memo he wrote three days ago that I’ve been sharing you with. I made this memo. I’m included in this this next excerpt. “As Rush Limbaugh said once during this election, people are never permanently converted.
“You have to keep reengaging voters by meeting them where they are looking for political leadership. Again,” our guy, “Cruz seemed so wedded to a playbook that he couldn’t get to such a place. Trump drove away many conservatives by flunking on some conservative precepts, but he more than made up for it by matching the conservative ideas he did exalt to voters’ top needs.” So what this guy’s saying is that Trump doesn’t even know when he’s doing something write right.
He doesn’t even know when he’s articulating conservative truths. I’ve made this point myself. Trump is not an ideologue. His world is not right versus left. He doesn’t run around and see people that way. My example is, he doesn’t see Chuck Schumer and say, “There’s a commie SOB! I gotta beat him.” He doesn’t see Schumer that way. I don’t know how he sees him, but he doesn’t see him as a liberal. Now, he might see some preacher and think, “Oh, my gosh. It’s some pro-life, whatever.
But when Trump does what he normally does, this memo indicates that there’s enough instinctive conservatism — such as dealing with immigration, such as dealing with China, such as the economy and jobs and so forth — that it sends the message anyway. Now, this point about people are never permanently converted? That doesn’t apply to you and me. We are who we are. We are very comfortable in who we are. We know what we believe, and that’s what we are. We don’t need to be reinforced.
But a lot of people do. The vast majority of voters, they’re not that way, and they have to be continually, permanently converted. You’ve got to keep working ’em. The greatest example I can give you of the failure to do this is when the Republicans won the House after the Contract with America in 1994. A fatal mistake was made, and that mistake was assuming that because of that election, the country had finally moved right, that conservatism had succeeded sufficiently, that a majority of voters now voted that way.
And so the conservatives who were elected stopped explaining conservatism or what they were or their policies. They stopped teaching, if you will. They stopped explaining what they were doing, which left them wide open to be destroyed by Democrat and media criticism, such as “starving kids” by “cutting” the school lunch budget. There was no such thing. But because the conservatives, the Republicans of that era failed to explain what they were doing and why ’cause they didn’t think they had to anymore, they lost the converts that they had won in that election.
So it’s something that you have to keep reminding people of, and therein lies the conflict. Because you have the stump speech which is where those points with repeatedly made, but they’re not real. They are focus grouped. The consultant and his team goes out and surveys people and then tells the candidate what he should say. And you end up with somebody who doesn’t instinctively know what to do and doesn’t feel comfortable being who they are.
And somebody who can come along and do all of that and be who they are, is gonna just shine in comparison. Think back to Jeb Bush. How many times during most days in, say, August and September, even — in a debate or in a campaign statement — you would hear Jeb start explaining why he should be elected, and you looked and scratched your head, saying, “What in the world is he talking about?” He might have been talking about his “proven conservative leadership,” and, “I have balanced budgets and I have cut taxes in X-number of years as governor,” and I did…
Even I said, “Well, that’s not a factor. None of that’s relevant to what’s happening now. This is not a resume election.” But they had $115 million to push that campaign. They had a consultancy team that put together all these things that Jeb should go out and say. And then every debate, “Yeah, Jeb’s gonna take the gloves off this debate. He’s gonna come out and he’s gonna come out firing!” They telegraphed what they were gonna do. It had no prayer of working, whatever it was. But the point is, it was all artificial.
It was all the result of marketing and strategy and focus-grouping and market research. Some of that can be helpful, but it ends up paralyzing you, and it makes you afraid to stray from it. But what it mostly does, is kill instinct. It just… If somebody is instinctively on the money, if somebody’s instincts are right, you have gotta find a way to encourage it and amplify it. But most candidates end up becoming afraid of following their instincts.
Because the message is sent that, “Hey, you might go off message, and you could blow six months of work here, Pal! Don’t do it,” and everybody gets defensive and protective. And so when somebody comes along and is none of those things, it can’t help but stand out. It becomes real versus unreal, real versus artificial.