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Three Things That Aren’t True About The First GOP Presidential Debate

Richard A. Viguerie

Going into the August 6 Fox News Republican presidential debate the media is already pushing three lines that are demonstrably false:

  1. Everyone on the stage is a “conservative,”
  2. The candidates must abide by “the 11th Commandment” (and the media and Republican establishment will be the self-appointed enforcers of it),
  3. The debate is all about Donald Trump, who is bound to make a “gaffe.”

Let’s dispense with the first untruth – not everyone on the stage is a “conservative.”

The reality is that many of the candidates on the stage, like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, are what political commentator Stu Rothenberg once called “pragmatic conservatives.”

A “pragmatic conservative” is a typical establishment Republican who talks a good game, but when it comes to actually delivering on the conservative agenda, particularly in the areas of the growth of government and spending, their so-called "pragmatism" always results in more spending and more government.

Despite the claims of most of the candidates who will be on the stage Thursday, there are only two or three candidates with legitimate roots in the conservative and liberty movements; Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul and arguably Governor Scott Walker.

I say “arguably” about Walker because, although he personally does not have deep roots in the conservative movement, he has built a team that includes many movement conservatives – Mike Grebe, Craig Shirley and Diana Bannister chief among them.

in stark contrast to some other candidates who have surrounded themselves with Washington anti-conservative inside operators and consultants, such as Governor Rick Perry who has hired insider Henry Barbour of the Mississippi Barbour political machine, Marco Rubio who recruited Rich Beeson and other alumnus of the Mitt Romney disaster and Governor John Kasich who hired former McCain campaign manager John Weaver.

And Donald Trump, who has a great message, is certainly no conservative, much less a movement conservative. His views on many important issues remain unplumbed and if one were to judge where he stands by where he has put money or what he said in the past – well, on the social issues and on many other issues that matter to conservatives Trump is at best an unknown quantity.

But he has one quality which has attracted many “country class” conservative voters to his candidacy, and that is, like Ronald Reagan, he is unfettered to the old Republican establishment and the GOP’s Capitol Hill insiders.

When Reagan ran for president in 1976, he ran against the entire Republican establishment; and when he remarked that we need new leaders, leaders unfettered by old ties and old relationships, he was talking about the establishment Republican Party and its “dime store Democrat” leadership, such as Ford, Nixon, Rockefeller, and their big business supporters.

In 1980 Reagan’s campaign against the establishment Republicans was every bit as tough, or tougher, than his campaign against Jimmy Carter. Reagan won because he charted a new course and campaigned as a conservative; he did not allow himself to become “fettered” to the old leaders and the old weaknesses of the establishment Republican Party.

Trump has done much the same thing in attacking the Republican Party's Capitol Hill establishment for aiding and abetting Obama's amnesty for illegal aliens, sanctuary cities and other lawlessness.

The second untruth is one the Republican establishment likes to hide behind every presidential election cycle – what they call Reagan’s eleventh commandment—thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican.

This cynical application of Reagan’s dictum conveniently glosses over the fact that Reagan was a tough campaigner and a vigorous advocate of conservative principles – and he was not bashful about drawing a distinction between his principled stands and the weak-kneed positions of his Republican opponents.

In 1976 Reagan had lost several primaries and was in danger of being knocked out of the presidential race. As the North Carolina primary approached, Senator Jesse Helms and Tom Ellis urged him to stay away from the state and let them handle the campaign unless he would do four things: attack President Ford; attack Henry Kissinger; attack the giveaway of the Panama Canal, and attack détente. Reagan agreed and attacked Ford and Kissinger and their weak foreign policy; he won the North Carolina Republican primary in an upset and kept his campaign alive.

In 1980 Reagan was equally tough on George H. W. Bush, famously and forcefully reminding him, “I paid for this microphone” in a New Hampshire debate and showing Bush to be thin-skinned and petulant.

Establishment Republicans also like to quote William F. Buckley Jr.’s dictum about supporting the most conservative candidate “who can be elected.”

The problem is that so many establishment Republicans have become addicted to Big Government that they no longer qualify as conservatives. Supporting them as “conservatives” confuses voters and seriously weakens the Republican brand.

The bottom line is that as long as the establishment candidate is the front-runner the inside the Beltway political class always wants a truce on drawing a contrast between the candidates. But as soon as a conservative or more conservative candidate begins to gain traction he or she is immediately carpet bombed by the Republican establishment and their fellow travelers in the establishment media, as were Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum in 2012.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the establishment media and political class are quite obviously setting up the line that the debate is “all about Trump” and that “Trump will make a campaign-ending gaffe.”

The debate is “all about Trump” said commentator Charles Krauthammer on Megyn Kelly’s program on Fox News – and I note for the record that Fox is the host network for the debate and Megyn Kelly is a member of the panel questioning the candidates.

Trump is like a drunken NASCAR driver according to Kasich campaign operative John Weaver.

“He’s like a rattlesnake with a toothache,” one Rubio adviser said.

Braggadocio, abrasive and showman were just a few of the descriptors that “The Hill” one of DC’s political newspapers managed to work into an article about Trump and the debate.

But it is not true that the debate is about Trump; it is about his message. And one of the most powerful – if not THE most powerful – theme in American politics is “send them a message.” 

And the Donald Trump message is if you reject the status quo in the Republican Party, and in the conduct of the federal government, vote for me. So what may be a “gaffe” to DC’s political class may not matter one whit to Trump’s base outside the Beltway, because they don’t care whether Trump knows who the President of Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan is, as Herman Cain put it so memorably back in 2011.

While Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio are boning-up like a freshmen facing a math test, trying to memorize their lines and parrot back the correct poll-tested answer, Trump plans to be himself.

Let me repeat that – Trump plans to be himself – he’s not trying to lie his way into the White House as did Mitt Romney, whose response to a question about a change in position was an incredulous, “I was running for office,” as if lying was an expected and accepted part of the campaign process.

What Donald Trump’s voters care about is delivering a message to the DC political class and as long as Trump does that he’s the winner of Thursday’s debate – whether he knows who the President of Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan is, or not.

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They may try to call him Donald Duck, but . . . . .

As a past Chairman of a fairly conservative CT Town Republican Committee, I've seen a lot of Red Tide backlash against "Republican" candidates who had a history of playing the political-business game of committing the conservative Republican crime of donating to a Democrat(s) as they espouse so called conservative Republican values. Donald Trump readily admits he's played that game as well; and yes it is a sad and depressing fact of today's political environment that big business does pay to play in DC. Look at CT GOP senatorial candidate (twice!) Linda McMahon (World Wresting Federation mega-millionaire) who spent over $100 million of her own cash only to twice drown in the deep blue liberal democratic sea called Connecticut. Unlike progressives and liberals that have a hodgepodge of innumerable socially liberal issues to choose from that gives them reason to vote for the likes of Hilary Clinton (gee she’ll be America’s first woman president and more, but we won’t go there), Bernie Sanders, and even that knucklehead Joey Biden, Republicans have exhibited the bad habit of often picking one issue – and one issue only -- on which to NOT vote for a candidate, or worse, not vote at all for anyone. One of the things I do find interesting about Trump is not that he’s forcing several of the biggest and most vital issues of America’s time into the race and forcing the media to give them some coverage, but that he is doing it with something the liberal media and left coast crazies can’t fully comprehend, which is this. Donald Trump, in addition to being a self-made billionaire (ok, he had some help starting out from his real estate father) in his own right is a national celebrity. And as we have learned from people like Jessie Watters (Watter’s World on Fox) who interviews supposedly educated ignoramuses, it is particularly fascinating-depressing when he is asking citizens – mostly native born -- questions on American history and politics. Almost every one of today’s liberally indoctrinated students and uninformed entitled citizens knows who every celebrity is, what they are doing, with whom they are having a relationship, or out of wedlock child or adoption, etc. Be it Jersey Shore’s Snooki to Kim Kardashian and her butt implants and fat injections, Americans know and worship today’s celebrities; especially when they have BIG bucks, jets, yachts, real estate holdings around the world, and their own TV shows. Donald Trump has it all; and the only other Republican that even came close was an actor turned politician -- Ronald Reagan -- who didn’t have Trumps wealth, but certainly had better hair and communication skills. But as Tinsel town and TV celebrities, such as those on Jersey Shore and Growing Up Gotti have proven, you don’t need to speak good English, be current on politics, or even know a whole lot about anything to be a celebrity adored by millions of fans. And very likely, Donald Trump, because of the issues he is forcing into the political debate, may be the surprise candidate who is going to not only get out the Republicans who didn’t vote in the last presidential election, but will be the celebrity candidate who attracts cross-over voters of all colors, faiths, and all of today’s “genders” from all of the parties. There is absolutely no way The Don’s celebrity sheen is going to be tarnished no matter how the media, the other Republican candidates, senior GOP leadership and pundits try to crucify him for gaffes and erroneous facts. For The Don, all of it is like water on a duck’s back, and frankly Scarlet, Donald doesn’t give a damn.


Great article