Ahead of Tuesday’s key primaries, there’s been a big push by many Republican leaders to stop the party’s front runner, Donald Trump. The rise of Trump and what his candidacy means for a divided GOP.

Guests

  • Vin Weber Partner at Mercury, a consulting firm; former member of Congress representing Minnesota's 2nd district (1981-93)
  • Matthew Schlapp Principal and founder, Cove Strategies; chairman, The American Conservative Union
  • David Winston President, Winston Group; Republican strategist; CBS News consultant; adviser to the House and Senate Republican leadership for more than a decade
  • Kathleen Parker Twice-weekly columnist, The Washington Post, and winner of 2010 Pulitzer Prize for commentary

Transcript

  • 10:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Last July, we asked three Republicans to join the show to talk about the appeal of Donald Trump. At that point, few thought he was a legitimate contender for the nomination. Now, the picture looks much different so we've invited that same panel back on the program. Here to talk about the rise of Trump, a divided GOP as well as recent clashes at Trump rallies, David Winston, president of the Winston Group.

  • 10:07:29

    MS. DIANE REHMHe's a Republican strategist. Matt Schlapp is chairman of the American Conservative Union. Vin Weber, former Republican congressman from Minnesota. And joining us by phone from Miami, Florida, Kathleen Parker. She's a columnist for The Washington Post. I'm sure many of you have your own thoughts. Join us. Questions, comments, 800-433-8850. Send an email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And thank you all for being with us.

  • 10:08:09

    MR. VIN WEBERGreat to be with you, Diane.

  • 10:08:10

    MR. MATTHEW SCHLAPPGreat to be here.

  • 10:08:11

    MR. DAVID WINSTONGood morning, Diane.

  • 10:08:13

    MS. KATHLEEN PARKERGood morning, everybody.

  • 10:08:14

    REHMKathleen, I'll start with you. The Trump rallies took a violent turn over the weekend. What do you believe is going on?

  • 10:08:25

    PARKERWell, I certainly am not surprised that things have escalated to this point because this is the tone that Donald Trump has set from the very beginning. You know, I'm among those who had hoped he would have wearied of his candidacy by now because I know that certainly I have. But, you know, the fact that people are, you know, I think Donald Trump can be credited with not only recognizing that there is this angry contingent of Americans out there, but also credited with inciting it and cultivating it and nurturing it and feeding it.

  • 10:09:02

    PARKERAnd so, finally, you know, when he says things such as, well, I just want to punch protestors in the nose, it wouldn't be very long before one of his loyalists felt that that was an appropriate measure, as we've seen, and then naturally, that kind of behavior on one side is going to invite that behavior from the other side. So you have protestors coming in to his rallies in increasing numbers and I don't have a lot of hope that things are not going to escalate.

  • 10:09:33

    PARKERI think that we are, you know, we're now reaping the seeds that Donald Trump has sown and he does deserves some...

  • 10:09:39

    REHMInteresting. Vin Weber, Donald Trump has blamed Bernie Sanders saying it's his supporters who are creating this violence. What's your reaction to that?

  • 10:09:55

    WEBERI think there's about 10 percent of the blame that ought to go on Bernie Sanders, but the other 90 percent belongs with Donald Trump. These are his rallies. He has set the tone, as Kathleen said, and his subsequent follow-up has declined to clearly condemn violence and try to calm the crowds. You know, if some of the people in the crowd are Bernie Sanders folks, you know, Bernie should ask them to let rallies proceed, even if they're not rallies for Bernie Sanders. But let's not get distracted here.

  • 10:10:28

    WEBERThis is a Trump phenomenon. What he's doing to our political culture and our civic culture is a very dangerous thing and we -- even as a Republican, I don't want to get distracted from that by the fact that a few of the people in the crowd may be Sanders people.

  • 10:10:45

    REHMNow, Matt Schlapp, Donald Trump has been totally defiant in the face of these clashes. What do you think he should be doing or could be doing to temper the tone?

  • 10:11:02

    SCHLAPPWell, I think he needs to remember that what he says and what he says from the podium matters and people are listening and he's the leader of this real movement in America. I describe this as a movement that's happening across the country that Donald Trump was entrepreneurial enough to get in front of. I think this movement is happening even if Donald Trump doesn't exist. And I've said there's two Donald Trumps.

  • 10:11:23

    SCHLAPPI actually said that before Dr. Carson said it, so I don't know, but Dr. Carson is a smart guy so I'm gonna take his advice. But there's the Donald Trump that appears before a rally that is very bombastic in his tone and is very aggressive. And then, there's that Donald Trump after he's vanquished his competitors, he walks to the podium at his victory celebration with the beautiful family behind him and he gives nice compliments to his challengers and the tone is different and the tone is calmer and it's more even.

  • 10:11:52

    SCHLAPPAnd I really think, although he's speaking to a lot of people at the rally, eventually Americans want a president and they want to see this person who can be presidential and I think that's the challenge before Donald Trump. Can he transition from the one to the other? And I think it's an open question.

  • 10:12:07

    REHMDavid Winston, how do you see it?

  • 10:12:10

    WINSTONWell, I hope it's an open question, but unfortunately, so far, what he has shown is that it's been pretty consistent and that way he has just taken the whole political discourse on the Republican side, quite frankly, and taken it down to a level that is very discouraging, I think, for all Republicans. The name-calling, the insulting, the lack of understanding, to Matt's point, of understanding what his words actually mean and the impact that they're having on people, I think, is just very disappointing.

  • 10:12:43

    WINSTONAnd it's very disturbing in terms of as we think through as Republicans what our options are for the fall, this is just not a good moment in time.

  • 10:12:51

    REHMWhat do you see as the options for Republicans?

  • 10:12:58

    WINSTONWell, let's talk about that after Tuesday. I mean, I'm certainly hoping that Tuesday will show some sense of direction, but I think...

  • 10:13:06

    REHMHow so?

  • 10:13:07

    WINSTONWell, we'll see. I mean, you have clearly the Kasich campaign and the Rubio campaign on the line tomorrow. There's no question about it. One of the -- if either one does not win their respective home states, they're probably out of the race and that will create a very different dynamic. But having said that, I mean, part of what we're watching as this point in time, as Matt was saying, this was a movement that was out there and I will tell you one of the failures that we've seen on the Republican side is the other campaigns being able to, in fact, engage those individuals and Trump being able to...

  • 10:13:42

    SCHLAPPRight. That's right. Can I jump in here real fast?

  • 10:13:44

    REHMSure, Matt.

  • 10:13:44

    SCHLAPPI just don't think we should grade on the curve. When you run for president, winning your home state is not really much of an achievement. It's just considered what you ought to do and then you start to win other states. I mean, Tom Harkins is going to win Iowa. Right? That's just the way this works. I mean, then if you were running for president and you didn't Minnesota, people wouldn't be saying, well, but maybe he'll win the neighboring state. It would be over and I think we should stop grading on the curve.

  • 10:14:07

    SCHLAPPThese guys not only have to win their home states, they have to start winning other states. So I don't view Kasich and Rubio as really in the running. I think the people who are in the running are Trump and Cruz and that's where we need to let our heads go.

  • 10:14:18

    REHMKathleen Parker, how do you see it?

  • 10:14:21

    PARKERI just want to comment quickly on something Matt said about the president -- about Donald Trump returning to this other self, this alleged other self, and being presidential, finally. And I just -- I don't buy that, I mean, because I don't think it should matter that he can now put on a different act when the act that got him there was so repulsive and so dangerous for the, you know, to heck with the party. It's dangerous to our country.

  • 10:14:49

    REHMHow is it dangerous, Kathleen?

  • 10:14:53

    PARKERWell, I think it should concern us a great deal that other countries are watching us with, you know, with fear and horror. And that they don't feel that -- I mean, the British parliament has voted not to allow Donald Trump to enter the country as president. Other nations, including our allies, are worried about what a Trump presidency would look like. There's a great deal of consternation and concern around the world about this candidacy and we should be concerned about that.

  • 10:15:22

    PARKERYou know, the United States has a certain role that it has always played and should continue to play in the world as sort of the beacon of light and if we become this mob sort of controlled country without any restraint, then I don't think people would have a whole lot of confidence in us as a nation. And, you know, who are we after all? So Donald Trump is dangerous in that way, but he's also dangerous in that, you know, he has taken on this, you know, he is the -- he is certainly no uniter and the insults that he's hurled at various groups of individuals -- of people, rather, you know, is anything but presidential.

  • 10:15:57

    PARKERIt's vulcanizing. It's, you know, creates this resentment and hatred directed at specific, you know, targeted groups. You know, that can't be good for us.

  • 10:16:07

    REHMVin Weber, how do you react to the notion that Donald Trump is dangerous not only to people in this country, but from afar?

  • 10:16:21

    WEBERWell, I agree with that and I agree with what Kathleen just said. I would put it a little differently. Donald Trump is dangerous because he is a genuinely authoritarian figure and we don't know how far he would take that as president, but it frightens me a great deal. I mean, any -- all of the individual comments that he's made about Mexicans and the KKK and things like -- those are offensive. But the broad picture of this man as president is a very authoritarian picture. Even the policies, to the extent that he ever talks about policy, Diane, and it's not very often, but when he does, it's things that would not require congressional approval.

  • 10:16:56

    WEBERHe's talking about deporting 11 million people. He can do that under the executive authority of the president. He's talking about seizing the oil fields in Iraq. He can do that under his authority as commander in chief. There's very little that he's talking about that would require him to go to the Congress, work out legislation as most candidates would be talking about at this stage in a campaign. And I think that that's frightening. He's talking about withdrawing, basically, from the multilateral world trading system so that he can sit down personally and negotiate trades one on one with every country in the planet.

  • 10:17:28

    WEBERThis is a frightening change in American politics and it's something that everybody that’s concerned about America's democracy and place in the world should be worried about.

  • 10:17:38

    REHMVin Weber is former Republican member of Congress representing Minnesota's second district. When we come back, Matt Schlapp, I want you to respond to this and Kathleen Parker's comments. We'll take a short break here. We'll be right back.

  • 10:20:02

    REHMAnd welcome back. Here in the studio, David Winston, he's a Republican strategist, Matt Schlapp is chair of The American Conservative Union, Vin Weber is a former member of Congress from Minnesota. On the line with us from Florida is Kathleen Parker, she's winner of 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. She's a twice weekly columnist for the Washington Post. And just before the break, Vin Weber, you were talking about the reasons that Donald Trump is frightening people, as Kathleen Parker said, and I know, Matt Schlapp, you wanted to comment.

  • 10:20:54

    SCHLAPPWell, look, I have huge respect for Vin Weber, and I think he's giving voice to a lot of people who have concerns. And one of the reasons people have concerns about Donald Trump is they've looked at this vocabulary coming out of these rallies and the fact he has no record. He has no record, and matter of fact, his public comments are scattered. They're all over the place. So I understand that. But I just want to -- let's think about it from the other perspective.

  • 10:21:18

    SCHLAPPThe executive has grabbed, and the Supreme Court, has grabbed more power from the Congress over the last two decades than we've ever seen. You know, Obamacare was fixed twice by the court. The president continues to go around Congress. He's done -- almost all of his achievements are by executive action. I think that what -- so I think you have to put it in context of Congress.

  • 10:21:39

    SCHLAPPActually with a Trump presidency, and I don't know whether a Trump presidency is going to occur, but if there were a Trump presidency, he doesn't have sophistication on the legislative process. I actually think the Republican leaders would separate himself -- themselves from him on a number of occasions, and I actually you could see Congress grabbing back some of this authority that they've ceded to aggressive presidents, and I think that actually could be good for the country.

  • 10:22:01

    REHMHe's a question from Kelly in Dallas, Texas, who says, Donald Trump is winning the Republican nomination as convincingly, perhaps more so, than any other non-incumbent in my lifetime. Success like this doesn't come out of nowhere. What are the trends in the GOP that have made this possible?

  • 10:22:27

    WEBERWell, that's just not true. I respect the listener, but that's just not true. George W. Bush was a non-incumbent president, he won the nomination convincingly. Ronald Reagan wasn't the incumbent president, he won the nomination convincingly. Donald Trump is the frontrunner, but we are likely to go into the convention without Donald Trump having a majority of the delegates. That's not convincing.

  • 10:22:49

    REHMDo you agree with that, David?

  • 10:22:53

    WINSTONWell, obviously tomorrow matters...

  • 10:22:53

    REHMOf course.

  • 10:22:53

    WEBERIn terms of if Kasich and Rubio both lost, then there's potentially a path that direction, but if one of them wins, then to Vin's point, things become much more unclear. Having said that, there are also other clear cases where people got out front very early and won very early on. The trends in the Republican Party, let's talk about how we are where we're at in terms of where the electorate is at. It's been eight years of people having a very negative attitude about the direction of the country, since the financial crisis in 2008.

  • 10:23:25

    WEBERWhat's emerged out of that and what's different about this is for the first time, Americans are beginning to think that their kids are not going to have as good a future as they have. That's a fundamental, structural change in a belief system that people in this country have, and so they're despondent. They're not angry, they're frustrated and despondent, and he's tapped into that. And the thing that he has done that other Republican candidates haven't is he's really sort of focused on that and sort of manifested that in terms of the way he does presentations, whereas the other Republican campaigns spend all their time dropping negative ads on their opponents, as opposed to addressing this group of people and saying here's what I'm going to do for you, here's my compelling idea because what they're looking for at this point is someone who's going to rock the boat.

  • 10:24:07

    WEBERAnd who is the person who's rocking the boat the most at this point? It's Donald Trump.

  • 10:24:10

    REHMKathleen?

  • 10:24:10

    PARKERWell, listen. You know, I think it was Matt who said earlier that there would be this movement with or without Donald Trump, but Donald Trump actually went -- you know, he was very strategic in polling in advance of even his announcement to find out what people were most upset about, and then he went after those issues, and he went after them with great passion. That's not to say these issues aren't legitimate, they are, I'm just saying that he -- you know, this -- he really did take advantage of his kind of his early polling to figure out what messages would resonate.

  • 10:24:50

    PARKERSo I somehow doubt sometimes his sincerity, but as to the trends that may be acknowledged, at least, as part of this, is, you know, I think the loss of faith and trust in our institutions is a big part of the momentum he's been able to build, and I think the Republican Party is somewhat responsible for that. You know, Sarah Palin, who turned the phrase lame stream media, and you say lame stream media anywhere, and people cheer, at least among -- I'm talking about these Republican base voters, which is to say they don't trust any information that comes out that's contradictory to their beliefs.

  • 10:25:31

    PARKERAnd it's very hard to convince people that there might be something to be concerned about when they don't trust the source, but in the same way they distrust the establishment, which as far as I can tell seems to refer to people who have actually been elected to office, who have tried to govern, and most people who go to Washington really do hope to do a good job.

  • 10:25:50

    PARKERSo, you know, you've got this vast sort of undercurrent of distrust toward any of our sort of traditional institutions that we desperately need at a time like this.

  • 10:26:01

    REHMMatt?

  • 10:26:01

    SCHLAPPYeah, and I also think, Kathleen, that's right, and I also think for conservatives, specifically, I'm traveling a lot and talking to these groups and talking to these people. I was in Miami, and a woman called me over from a set I was on, and she said -- she was talking to me about politics, and the conversation went to the fact that she was going to, as a conservative, was going to vote for Trump.

  • 10:26:20

    SCHLAPPAnd I said, well, how do you know what he's going to do? She goes, well, I don't really know what he's going to do, but I think he's going to shake things up. I said, what if he shakes some things up improperly? She goes, I'm worried about that, but I think the things that he'll shake up improperly will be overcome by the shakeup that will happen that will have a positive effect. And I just think there's a lot of people who are there.

  • 10:26:39

    REHMI want to go back to Vin Weber's point about the convention itself and what could happen if Donald Trump goes into that convention with sufficient votes, delegates, to claim the presidency.

  • 10:26:58

    WEBERWell, if Donald Trump goes into the convention with a majority of the delegates, he will be the nominee of the Republican Party. There's nothing that's going to stop that. But I don't think that's going to happen, and we need to talk about what happens at that convention if no one goes in with a majority of the delegate, which I think is highly likely. Donald Trump said the other day that this figure that we've chosen to nominate is an arbitrary figure. There's nothing arbitrary about the notion of a majority ruling.

  • 10:27:27

    WEBERIf he doesn't go into the convention with a majority of the delegates, if he goes in with a plurality but not a majority, there's absolutely no reason why the convention should feel obligated to nominate him. I come from a convention states, Minnesota. That's how we have always chosen our leaders in the state. Maybe people that have not come up through the convention process find this nefarious and underhanded and very mysterious. It's not. It's the way that we used to choose all of our presidents. Abraham Lincoln was nominated on the fourth ballot at his nominating convention.

  • 10:27:55

    WEBERSo if we go into an open convention with no one having a majority, it's entirely possible that the two-thirds of the Republicans who don't want Donald Trump to be their nominee, will prevail.

  • 10:28:06

    REHMHow likely do you think that could be, Matt?

  • 10:28:09

    SCHLAPPWell, Diane, I went over the numbers over the weekend, and I actually think Trump has a chance to get to the minimum threshold of delegates. I agree with Vin that there's also a big percentage chance that he doesn't have those numbers. I've talked to Reince Priebus about it this weekend. The rules are the rules, and they're going to follow the rules. They're going to set the rules, and they're going to have to follow them, and as long as they're transparent with those rules, and you have cascading number or series of votes, you're eventually going to get to a winner.

  • 10:28:33

    SCHLAPPI think the only question is this. People talk about an open convention, where there's a series of votes, and they talk about a brokered convention, where a name would be inserted at some point in the future in the process. I think that would be a very rough scenario for the party to come out of.

  • 10:28:49

    WEBERAnd I agree with that.

  • 10:28:49

    SCHLAPPI'm hoping we don't have to get to that. I'm hoping what we simply do as delegates, in the first round they're bound to their candidate, Diane. In the second round, only 60 percent of them are bound to their delegate, so more of them can be free actors, and we're going to see how this process goes. And here's the thing for Donald Trump. He's actually win these states with Republican voters. He's not unpopular with Republican voters. We're going to see what happens in a convention setting.

  • 10:29:12

    WINSTONBut again the challenge here, if he goes in with less than 50 percent, and again going to Vin's point, you know, those are the rules. You have to win a majority of the delegates. I mean, that's kind of like a basic concept, like just like you have to win, you know, a majority of the electoral college votes. But here's the other thing I would also suggest, and when I hear Trump talk about oh, if I come in with more delegates than anybody else, I should win, well, I thought we were talking about his strength, being able to cut deals and being able to, you know, figure out how to put that coalition -- he talks about it all the time.

  • 10:29:42

    WINSTONBut apparently when it comes to the Republican National Convention, he doesn't have that skill set? I just find that sort of an interesting dichotomy in his logic.

  • 10:29:49

    REHMAll right, I want to take a call from one of those key states voting tomorrow. James is in Hillsboro, Ohio. You're on the air.

  • 10:30:02

    JAMESHi, Diane, it's so good to hear you voice back on the radio.

  • 10:30:05

    REHMThank you.

  • 10:30:07

    JAMESI personally missed you.

  • 10:30:08

    REHMThank you.

  • 10:30:09

    JAMESYou have a great show. But, you know, I've got to say, I'm, first of all, total disclosure. I'm a big Bernie Sanders supporter. But the one thing that makes my blood boil, just like people say, well, he's unelectable, he's a socialist, and they try to kid of malign his character by using these terms that kind of are catchphrases, when you talk about Bernie -- I mean, when you talk about Donald Trump in these terms, you play right into his hand. The hypocrisy being demonstrated by these panelists is not only immense, it's palpable. If you guys are so smart, and if you know what the electorate wants and what's good for America, why don't you put your ideas and your thoughts on the line and run for office? No offense, but you talk to me as a person listening to the radio like you know what's best for me. I don't think you do, and I don't think -- I think that -- you know, it reminds me of as a kid, they said The Beatles were terrible for music, and it's the devil's, music, and look how long their hair is.

  • 10:31:05

    JAMESNow people look back on those times with nostalgia. You know, I have three children. I don't think -- Donald Trump is another candidate that's just telling it like he feels it.

  • 10:31:15

    REHMAll right, do you want to comment, Vin?

  • 10:31:16

    WEBERI'm not quite sure what that was all about, but...

  • 10:31:18

    SCHLAPPI know what it was about.

  • 10:31:19

    PARKERI'm not going to run, yeah.

  • 10:31:20

    WEBERI have run for office. I did it six times and won, and, you know, I'm a citizen now, I'm entitled to express my opinion.

  • 10:31:28

    SCHLAPPYou know, I know what that call was about. They don't want to hear from the D.C. insiders about who they should vote for. They're plenty fed up with us, and that's happening on the Democratic side, with people in Bernie Sanders' camp, and that's happening on the Republican side, I think with Ted Cruz supporters and with Donald Trump supporters. I think the message is very clear.

  • 10:31:48

    WINSTONI -- slightly different take. I think one of the things that this has shown is the ineffectiveness of the political discourse of a lot of these campaigns, and I think one of the things you saw from the other Republican campaigns was an inability to actually come up with that compelling idea that would cause these voters to say that would work, right. Instead what they did is they basically said, no, I as Jeb Bush am going to tell you why Marco Rubio is not the right person. That is not what the electorate wanted to hear at that point. They wanted to understand why Jeb was the right person. And interestingly, the person who still is sort of standing and has a potential, outside shot here, John Kasich, is the one who has stuck to his viewpoint of I'm going to run a positive campaign.

  • 10:32:31

    WINSTONAnd I find it interesting outside -- that he's now sort of moved past Rubio, potentially here, in being the number three candidate.

  • 10:32:39

    SCHLAPPI agree with that.

  • 10:32:39

    WINSTONAnd I think that's a result of a very different political discourse. I don't know if he'll succeed or not, but it's interesting that he is certainly -- how much money did Perry have, how much money did Walker have, how much money did Bush have, and what do they all have in common, they're not in the race anymore.

  • 10:32:53

    REHMDavid Winston, he's president of the Winston Group. He's a Republican strategist. And you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. And let's go to Al in Dallas, Texas. You're on the air.

  • 10:33:15

    ALHi Diane, good to hear your voice again.

  • 10:33:17

    REHMThank you.

  • 10:33:19

    ALI'd just like to make a note and call awareness to the fact that it's conversations like this that have -- commenting Trump that have made Trump legitimate. It's conversations like this on news shows, on radio shows, nonstop, ever since he declared his candidacy. Of course he's a very entertaining guy, and it's very entertaining to hear him speak, but it's the nonstop coverage that has really legitimized him. Even today's show is a part of that.

  • 10:33:58

    PARKERCan I comment on that?

  • 10:33:59

    REHMAll right, Kathleen, surely.

  • 10:34:00

    PARKERI hear what he's saying, but, you know, the bottom line is it's the thousands and tens of thousands of people who show up at his rallies that make him legitimate. And he is the frontrunner, he is likely to be the nominee, or at least it appears that way at this stage, and, you know, we can't -- we people, those of who are in the media, can't exactly turn our backs on the Republican frontrunner. It would be irresponsible.

  • 10:34:26

    PARKERNow I agree completely that we have focused, not newspapers, which is my realm, but the television, cable news, has given far too much coverage to Donald Trump, every outrageous thing he says, which he of course says purposefully to get the coverage, you know, has resulted in a 48-hour Trump cycle. And as soon as news, you know, fades from him and tries to pivot somewhere, he says something else outrageous, and so once again the scramble begins.

  • 10:34:56

    PARKERAnd that has definitely contributed to his high profile. He likes to brag that he never has to buy any ads. Well yeah, why not -- you know why, because the television producers have made him, you know, have given him all this free advertising. So anyway...

  • 10:35:09

    REHMIt is -- it's interesting that Donald Trump has said over and over again he's never had a bankruptcy, and now apparently CNN is starting to dig into this whole bankruptcy issue. Is that going to make a difference in anybody's mind?

  • 10:35:32

    WEBERIt might, I mean, his -- his credential, if you want to think of it, with most people is that he's hugely successful. And certainly, you know, as a personal matter, he is hugely successful. He's worth several billions of dollars, we don't know how much. But if it begins to be shown that his business hasn't quite been as swimmingly successful as he would like to portray it, that might start taking away from him, although, you know, the phenomenon we were talking about here kind of is people believe Trump, and they don't believe any of his critics, and that's a little bit what Matt was saying a few minutes ago, when he said the previous caller was reflecting people's disdain for everything Washington, everything New York, everything media.

  • 10:36:12

    WEBERAnd we'll see. I tend to believe that he is not completely immune from the basic laws of politics and that some of this will eventually take its toll on him.

  • 10:36:22

    REHMKathleen, how much can the Republican Party itself be blamed for the rise of Trump?

  • 10:36:32

    PARKERWell, you know, as I said earlier, I think that the Republican Party has contributed -- well, let me just mention a whole -- a different avenue that I didn't talk about earlier, which is that, you know, for decades now, the Republican Party has sort of turned a blind eye to some of the less attractive features of the Republican base or just winked, and there -- you know, there is a strain in the party, and I'm not saying among party leadership, but, you know, there is this sort of current of resentment toward others, or the other, as I think -- you know, when Sarah Palin turned and referred to Barack Obama, the candidate at the time, you know, that guy, or that one, you know, that was an -- that was a dog whistle to make him different.

  • 10:37:29

    REHMAll right.

  • 10:37:30

    PARKERAnd that differentness has been nurtured.

  • 10:37:33

    REHMKathleen Parker, she's a columnist for The Washington Post. Short beak, we'll be right back.

  • 10:40:02

    REHMAnd welcome back. We're talking about the rise of Donald Trump. What the Republican Party itself may have done to contribute to his rise, where our panelists see this going, whether there might, in fact, be a negotiated convention remains to be seen. Tomorrow, of course, is a very, very important day and here is a comment on exactly that. Bart in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, you're on the air.

  • 10:40:48

    BARTHi. Thank you for taking my call.

  • 10:40:50

    REHMSure.

  • 10:40:52

    BARTI would like to suggest this fairly distinguished panel of Washington insiders that this is -- Donald Trump is very deftly exploiting a situation that has been created by partisan way, by a Congress which has sent American jobs overseas and this has been going on for decades. While Wall Street's run totally amuck for which nobody's gone to jail. There's been no consequences. They were bailed out. And a lot of people see this getting ready to happen again. They have, indeed, ceded power to the President to run amuck overseas and start wars hither and yon.

  • 10:41:27

    BARTAnd we see fiascos like Iraq and Libya and on and on and on. And it looks like it's never ending. And if it hadn't been Donald Trump, it would have been somebody else. And, you know, Bernie Sanders, to some extent, is appealing to the same people who are ready to throw the whole bum -- set of bums out and start over again.

  • 10:41:44

    REHMDo you agree with that, Matt?

  • 10:41:45

    SCHLAPPYeah, I tell you Diane, what the caller is saying, this is similar to what I hear when I go out and talk to folks. It is not just a conservative or a Republican message. This is bleeding to both parties and to both sides. People just were -- I think it comes down to something David said earlier. Are America's best days in front of her or are they behind her? Can you be, can you be mad at voters who simply want to send a message, which is we want to take the old playbook and we want you to burn it. Throw it away, toss it. And we want you to consider things in a fresh way.

  • 10:42:17

    SCHLAPPAnd I think that is the number one message. I disagree with Kathleen. I don't think Donald Trump's about, kind of like, the dog whistle. I don't think it's all about these other kind of gross aspects of race and politics. I think the major thrust of it are very good people who simply love their country and are very worried about its direction.

  • 10:42:36

    WINSTONBut...

  • 10:42:37

    PARKERI agree with you, Matt. I mean, I know what they're mad about and I'm -- you know, I'm mad too. If you want -- let's just all be mad. But the point is, you know, I'm sorry. Donald Trump did not, you know, he was very slow to respond to when David Duke came out and endorsed him, very, you know, very slow to respond to disavow the KKK. I mean, that's not a hard thing to do. And he just flat out lied when he said I don't know anything about David Duke.

  • 10:43:00

    PARKERWhen we know for a fact that in 2000, he specifically named David Duke when he was being interviewed about whether he, meaning Trump, would run for President. He said no, I'm going to leave the Reform Party to David Duke. So, I mean, I'm just saying that that kind of lack of presidential, if I may, presidential response, you know, says a lot about what kind of person he is. At least, and that part worries me a lot. I just think if you happen to be African-American or you happen to be Jewish or you happen to be Mexican or a Muslim, you have every reason to feel that Donald Trump has been whistling.

  • 10:43:34

    SCHLAPPBut Diane...

  • 10:43:35

    PARKERAnd not a dog whistle.

  • 10:43:36

    SCHLAPP...I was talking about -- I was talking, specifically, in that case about the Trump supporters who are out there. I think how I described them characterizes the major thrust of them.

  • 10:43:42

    WINSTONBut, but if...

  • 10:43:42

    REHMGo ahead, David.

  • 10:43:43

    WINSTONI want to go back to the -- they are looking for somebody.

  • 10:43:46

    REHMSure.

  • 10:43:46

    WINSTONTo rock the boat. And what I mean by that is they're looking for somebody to shake things up. And the problem on the Republican side was the other campaigns were never describing anything...

  • 10:43:55

    REHMCouldn't do it.

  • 10:43:55

    WINSTON...right. What was the compelling reason to vote for any of these candidates? They never offered it, and the one thing that Trump did is he was able to tap into that to a degree that the other campaigns just because the way they run campaigns, again, Vin was making a point off air, the fact that, you know, you see so many of these campaigns sort of protect their candidates.

  • 10:44:15

    WEBERRight.

  • 10:44:16

    WINSTONAnd the one thing that Trump, to his credit, has done is he's been available. Now, I want to add one other thing. The other thing he's been quite fortunate, when I would argue that he's literally been in the perfect storm of media. And that is media's at this really key inflection point where they've got to make a decision. Is journalism all about eyeballs or is it all about content? And they are really struggling with how to manage that. And what he's managed to do is come in and basically provide both.

  • 10:44:40

    REHMBut has he truly come up with policies that appeal or is it simply his personality, his dynamism, his threats. What is it?

  • 10:44:56

    WEBERWell, he has come up with slogans that he considers to be policies. But they're hugely misleading. At the risk of sounding totally elitist about this, the issue that propelled him more than any other single issue, if issues did propel him, was immigration. Let's look at the reality of immigration. We have had stable and maybe even declining levels of undocumented people living in the country for many, many years now. And the arguments about crime statistics and things like that in the alien community are just -- there's no relationship to reality in terms of the threat that he's talking about.

  • 10:45:31

    WEBERIf there was a crisis in immigration, it was several years ago when we had a huge influx of people that were not anticipated. That is not the case today. Now, he can get as many people angry about it as he wants, and Matt's right, a lot of people just, are going to completely dismiss what I've just said, but there are facts here that need to be brought to bear. The same thing's true on trade.

  • 10:45:50

    REHMPeople aren't interested in the facts.

  • 10:45:52

    SCHLAPPWell look, I think one of the reasons why the immigration issue has peaked is because people do feel economically insecure. They're worried about, you know, when you have wage stagnation. Look, I'm the Republican here, as you guys are, and, you know, we're, Republicans realize this, which is people have not seen their wages increase and they worry that the reason that is is somehow that economic opportunity's being taken from them. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, but the reason why our illegal inflow has dropped is because our economy is so weak.

  • 10:46:21

    SCHLAPPWe have the lowest employment rate that we've seen since Jimmy Carter was President. Now, I know the unemployment rate is low, but there are -- these are serious issues and we shouldn't...

  • 10:46:29

    WEBERAnd because the Mexican economy has been stronger, in no small measure because of NAFTA.

  • 10:46:34

    SCHLAPPBut let me finish this. So then, the secondary thing, which is, you know, for all of us who are pro-immigration Republicans and have tried to do everything we could to try to come up with some kind of immigration solution, we shouldn't overlook that there are real problems to not know who comes in your country. And there are security problems with not knowing that, and there are problems with crime. And I think the American people, when we whitewash that, and there are victims of those crimes, and they see that happening, they wonder what we're thinking.

  • 10:46:58

    SCHLAPPAnd I think we should acknowledge the good of what happens with immigration. I think there's plenty. I think there's more positive than negative, but we ought to acknowledge the bad. And we ought to be able to secure our border.

  • 10:47:07

    REHMBut he says we're simply going to build this huge wall and we're going to have...

  • 10:47:13

    SCHLAPPWhich Hillary Clinton has voted for, which Barack Obama has signed, which is...

  • 10:47:15

    REHM...yeah, but he then says and the Mexicans are going to pay for it.

  • 10:47:19

    WEBERAnd there's the interesting dynamic in terms of the electorate, because I've talked to quite a few folks, in terms of focus groups, and basically they all say, oh, we know that Mexico won't pay for it, but we like the fact that he's saying it, because we like the fact that he's taking this really strong position. Right? And no, I mean, and so what do you say to that, in terms of okay, so you don't believe it. How do you -- but again, this is where the weakness of the other campaigns comes in. Right?

  • 10:47:46

    WEBERPeople, if they had some clear direction in terms of where these other folks were going to go, you might have seen a very completely different result. But again, you saw these campaigns literally shut down everything they were saying and begin to point at other candidates as though the reason they weren't -- you know, the reason Jeb Bush wasn't winning was because Rubio's was doing so well?

  • 10:48:03

    REHMSo are you saying to me that had Jeb Bush challenged Donald Trump on that wall issue and said, look, this is totally unrealistic. Of course there's not going to be a wall. Rather than simply going after the others.

  • 10:48:25

    WEBERA little bit more than that. He needed to define a vision and direction of where he saw immigration going at a scale that simply overwhelmed what Trump was talking about. Right? It wasn't simply responding to him and refuting his position. It was did he have a vision concept of what it should look like that just simply overwhelmed Trump and people said well, I'm going to vote for him.

  • 10:48:42

    SCHLAPPYou know, Diane, I have five kids and when one of my daughters comes up to me and tells me that her feelings are hurt, I don't tell her she's wrong to have her feelings hurt. I hug her and I listen to her and I say, why are your feelings hurt? I try to talk her way through it. We have candidates who were lecturing our electorate, telling them that they were wrong to feel as they were feeling. Instead of listening to them and trying to acknowledge, yeah, there are downsides to trade deals. And there are downsides to a runaway immigration system.

  • 10:49:07

    SCHLAPPAnd I think that would have served them better.

  • 10:49:09

    WINSTONYes. Agreed. I agree.

  • 10:49:10

    REHMHere's an email from Elise in North Carolina, who says, when will it be recognized that the people are the ones putting Trump in this position? American citizens are out voting. It's an amazing time for politics because politicians are scared to death that people are finally interested, engaged and participating. And no longer acting like sheep, just going along with what's being spoon fed to us. Kathleen, what do you think?

  • 10:49:47

    PARKERWell, I think there's a lot to be said about that. And I think when the fellow was criticizing the elites for, you know, telling other people what they ought to believe, I said, you know, it's the people who are putting them up front and putting Trump front and center. And, you know, a lot of those who are going to vote for him are coming out for the first time ever. Which is just strange to me, actually. I mean, I can't quite wrap my mind around who these people are that they've never been engaged in the political system at all.

  • 10:50:14

    PARKEROr even in, you know, in their communities and now suddenly, they're going to come out and vote for Donald Trump.

  • 10:50:20

    REHMYeah. Yeah.

  • 10:50:21

    PARKERBut I do think, you know, the other thing that Donald Trump has pounded on is this whole, this -- the politically correct culture that we've been living in for the past several, few decades and, you know, everybody's so fed up with not being able to call a spade a spade or to say, look, we have a problem with, you know, the terrorists are this type of person and therefore we ought to be able to look at that person. You know, that resonates with people a lot too, because he's actually saying what people think and what they talk about in their homes.

  • 10:50:50

    PARKERAnd my big problem with Trump is not so much that he wants to be, let's be real and talk about what really is, what the problems really are and how we really have to address them. It's his tone and his style.

  • 10:51:01

    REHMAll right. You're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. You want to add to that, Vin.

  • 10:51:09

    WEBERNo, I very much agree with that. I just -- and I do want to say, having assailed Trump's positions, I agree with what was said before about the Republicans needing to address real issues, the stagnation of wages in this country is appalling and the lack of social mobility, which we used to pride ourselves on is appalling. I would point out that Governor Bush got into the race with a very substantive plan to attack exactly those policies. It's one of the reasons I decided to support him when he first got in the race.

  • 10:51:40

    WEBERNo resonance, nothing got through. Trump just swept all of that away with an angry message that said, don't try to focus on policy, focus on people that we're going to scapegoat.

  • 10:51:52

    WINSTONBut Vin, if I may, but then the media response was negative advertising as opposed to further...

  • 10:51:58

    WEBERAnd that was a mistake. You're right.

  • 10:51:59

    SCHLAPPAnd, let's face it, it's not about policy in 2016. It's not about your policy briefings, your thick books of policy. It's about your character strengths. What Republicans want to see is will you stand up and actually fight the left, from their perspective, aggressively. And what they've seen with the Republicans they've elected to Congress is people that are under the table. And they are very frustrated about that.

  • 10:52:20

    REHMTo Lee in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. You're on the air.

  • 10:52:27

    LEEGood morning. Thank you for taking my call.

  • 10:52:28

    REHMSure.

  • 10:52:29

    LEEI have a comment and then I have a question. And the comment is as a psychotherapist, Donald Trump is pandering to the fears, the frustrations and the emotions of people when he incites them violence, et cetera, et cetera. And my question is have either one of you ever had an opportunity to see what the job description for President of the United States is?

  • 10:52:52

    REHMI bet you have, Vin.

  • 10:52:54

    SCHLAPPTed Cruz has, for sure.

  • 10:52:55

    WEBERThat's right. Ted Cruz carries it around in his breast pocket. The Constitution is the job description.

  • 10:53:01

    REHMAnd that's pretty straightforward, is it not?

  • 10:53:05

    WEBERWell, the President is supposed to execute the laws passed by the Congress of the United States.

  • 10:53:10

    REHMWell, but what about the qualifications for President? Is there simply an age level and no other qualifications demanded?

  • 10:53:23

    WEBERWell, that's about right. I mean, we...

  • 10:53:25

    WINSTONBeing a citizen, obviously.

  • 10:53:25

    WEBERBeing a citizen of the United States.

  • 10:53:26

    REHMYeah.

  • 10:53:26

    WEBERWe have put informal qualifications on that have worked pretty well for a couple centuries, though. And you have to ask very seriously if Mr. Trump meets the informal qualifications of temperament and experience. We've never, we've, by the way, never elected anybody without a single day's experience in government.

  • 10:53:41

    REHMAnd you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. Now to Jacksonville, Florida. Doug, you're on the air.

  • 10:53:52

    DOUGHi. Good morning.

  • 10:53:53

    REHMHi.

  • 10:53:55

    DOUGI'm sort of reminded and it's a little bit rich, that scene from Casablanca where they say, gambling? There's gambling going on here? You have some Republican insiders and pundits and that sort of thing there that are all shocked at sort of the incendiary language and the kind of messages that Trump is using. But, you know, the Republican Party and a wide swath of American has come together across race, ethnic, national origin and religion bounds, including every single presidential candidate that's made the dais.

  • 10:54:24

    DOUG30 governors and a wide range of others to say that in order to make America great again, in order to win back the party, take America back, pick your slogan, that what we have to do is discriminate on the base, national origin, ethnicity and religious freedom, and religious beliefs.

  • 10:54:44

    REHMI'm not sure I get that. David Winston.

  • 10:54:49

    DOUGEvery candidate has said we should not allow Muslims into the country because a couple of Muslims have behaved badly.

  • 10:54:55

    PARKERRight.

  • 10:54:56

    WINSTONI don't believe every candidate has said that, as a matter of fact.

  • 10:54:59

    SCHLAPPLook, and there shouldn't be a religious test on whether or not you can, you know, immigrate to the United States of America, and I think Trump went way too far there. But I think, once again...

  • 10:55:08

    PARKERHe always goes too far with everything, Matt. That's the problem.

  • 10:55:09

    SCHLAPPKathleen, I don't, I don't disagree with that, and I think it's our job as independent observers to say that when that happens. By the same token, we also have to acknowledge that this happened within the context of migrants coming from Europe and watching what's happening in Germany and other places. I mean, it is okay for us to have a handle on who comes into this country and it's not racist to try to have an understanding of security.

  • 10:55:38

    WINSTONBut if I may, and this is where he has struggled, and this is why I think you see so many people having difficulty with him. Words matter and how he frames that issue, how he puts it out there, how he describes it. I mean, I will tell you, the other one that truly has made me very edgy is this whole concept of we would target terrorists' families. Women and children and he would order the generals to do that. Now, he's backed off that after he realized that, in fact, what he was basically saying was that he was going to make them do war crimes.

  • 10:55:58

    SCHLAPPBy the same token, if you look at the...

  • 10:56:00

    PARKERBut he did think that. That's what was in his mind.

  • 10:56:01

    SCHLAPPBut, by the same token, let's all be honest. The Obama Administration's policy, when it comes to terrorism is basically assassination, using drones, where the families and the collateral damage is huge.

  • 10:56:11

    WEBERNo no, but that is -- that is a very different dynamic where families unfortunately are close by and they are part of the military action...

  • 10:56:18

    SCHLAPPThen they're murdered.

  • 10:56:18

    WEBER...as opposed, no. As opposed to being the actual target and purpose of the attack. Those are two very different things.

  • 10:56:23

    REHMAll right. One last question.

  • 10:56:25

    PARKEROne's an accident, the other's a strategy.

  • 10:56:26

    WEBERAgreed, Kathleen.

  • 10:56:26

    REHMDo you think, at this point, that the Republican Party ought to coalesce around Trump?

  • 10:56:34

    SCHLAPPNo, I think it's an open process. I think we ought -- I think if John Kasich wins in Ohio, tomorrow, I think that's a big change in the race. I don't -- I think if Trump doesn't get the minimum number of delegates, we ought to have these votes at the convention. I'm for everybody leaving it all on the field, Diane.

  • 10:56:48

    WEBERAbsolutely.

  • 10:56:48

    SCHLAPPPush for your person, but in the end, I will support our nominee period.

  • 10:56:53

    REHMAnd you, David Winston.

  • 10:56:57

    WINSTONI, up until that military comment, in terms of targeting families, I was where Matt was. I voted for every Republican nominee since I've been able to vote. He has to earn my vote, and I'll tell you, that comment pushed me away from him.

  • 10:57:10

    REHMDavid Winston, Matt Schlapp, Vin Weber, Kathleen Parker, quite a race. Thank you all so much.

  • 10:57:15

    WINSTONThank you, Diane.

  • 10:57:20

    PARKERGood talking to you, Diane.

  • 10:57:21

    REHMAnd thanks for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.

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