Editor’s note: Below is the video and transcript of the panel discussion “How We Can Fight Back,” featuring David Horowitz, Pat Caddell, Bill Whittle and Rep. Tom Cotton. The event was part of the Freedom Center’s Texas Weekend, held May 3rd-5th at the Las Colinas Resort in Dallas, Texas.
Bill Whittle: It’s a pleasure to be hosting a panel this morning. And I think the panel this morning goes to the heart of everything that we’re all interested in and why we’re part of the Freedom Center. And why we’re here in Texas. We want to talk about how we can fight back.
I think the opening premise for what we’re going to be talking about today is that all of us good-natured, polite conservatives — which is the giant character flaw that David pointed out last night, is our decency and our willingness to think well of other people — has been turned against us for 40 years now.
And we’re facing a 40-year, 50-year, 60-year deficit in terms of how to get out there and fight in the trenches with knives with the people that want this country destroyed. Not because they disagree with us but because they want the country destroyed.
So our topic today this morning is how do we fight back. And just generally terms as the moderator, because I’m not going to be doing much talking at all, I’d like to concentrate on two different areas.
I’d like to start off by talking about how do we fight back politically. In other words, what can we do right now? We have legislators in Congress. We have a new off elections coming up in 2014. So I’d like to start off by talking about what can we do right now with the tools that we have on the board right now in order to fight back.
And then I’d like to transition a little bit into the future, talk a little bit about what kind of candidates we’d be looking for in the future. And also what we can do about the pop culture, which I believe was where the actual fight is. So let me just —
Pat Caddell: I gave a talk at — first in Florida with David with the weekend here. And then I did one at CPAC which caused somewhat of a scene a few weeks ago. I would urge you to go see the speech if you wanted. You can find it.
It is the only speech given at CPAC which they managed to lose, in which I describe the consultant arrangement of consultant lobbyists establishment Republican complex as racketeering of the first order. And is criminal under the RICO statutes.
And just one example of that and then I’m going to stop on that point. $192 million is now the figure that the Chief of Staff of the RNC, Mr. Larson, and the political director of the Romney campaign, Mr. Beeson, was $80 million in October.
It was a $130 mill — it’s now $192 million is the figure in the FEC that their two companies split producing the disaster on Election Day. Defended by the Chairman of the Republican Party, by the way.
I just want to tell you, as long as that establishment is in control and I’m going to get to the question because right now we’re having the South Caroli– nothing will change. The Romney campaign was the single worst campaign in modern political history for a win — for a candidate who had a chance and should’ve won.
The worst campaign in history. And the strate– it was a failure, as I have said, of tactic, strategy, message and most of all imagination. And what we have not done is had a correct analysis, Bill, really, that lays out these strategings. It’s all about, “Oh, the Hispanics did this. Oh, if we only had big data.”
So the RNC hires — the RNC, which has no money for South Carolina, the race there in Massachusetts. We’ll get to that in a second. But they have money. They hired Karl Rove’s firm, whatever he’s associated with, to do now to catch up on the data so he can do for Republican data collection what he did for Republican messaging in the last election.
This is — these arrangements are killing the Republican Party. And if you look today, when you ask has it changed, I will say this. We have a Republican Party in Congress in total retreat.
I mean, they do not — I — they cannot mount a narrative against the President, who is very vulnerable right now, at all. And Tom I’m sure will want to disagree with me but I will give more to this, and it has to do with Benghazi, later. But — because I do want us to talk about that.
But they basically just keep surrendering. I mean, this is — you — armies in retreat are very dangerous because it turns into routs. And what’s going to happen next Tuesday in Charleston, South Carolina, where I live? A district that is 58% was an 18 point win for Romney. 58% to 40%.
Right now Barack Obama has a 40% approval rating. And the Democratic candidate, Stephen Colbert’s sister, is probably going to win that race and I believe handily against former governor Mark Sanford.
You would have thought in the first election after November that the Republican estab– and this is what I want to talk about not learning anything, Bill. The Republican establishment have run and said, “Oh, my gosh, we need to make sure we send a message in the country.”
You would’ve thought while there were 16 candidates in a primary in a run-off system that the National Republican Campaign Committee might’ve wanted to go out and not let the Democrat, who’s a really traffic candidate, Colbert-Busch, and a moderate Democrat.
You would’ve thought they would’ve stopped them from — you know, that they would’ve said, “Here’s the real issue in the campaign. You want more Obama? You want — you — Obama, yes, no. You want Pelosi? You want Obamacare?”
And made the raise a referendum which of course is what they still fail to do. You know, which is what — as opposed to a choice of candidates and made it a referendum. They did nothing. They have done nothing, the Sixth Chamber of Commerce are silent on the race.
The Democrats are pouring in resources beyond what you can believe. And the NRCC’s attitude is — well, because this comes from someone who talked to one of the major people there. “Oh, that’s okay. We’ll win it back in ’14.” No, you won’t.
Because if she wins that seat, what will happen is two things. Well, several things will happen. The first thing is they’ll turn on the spigots. The one thing about being President is you have a lot of money you can move places. She’s going to be the bait. She’s going to have stuff in Charleston you wouldn’t believe (inaudible). They want to hold the seat.
Second thing on the — if this happens, which is — it couldn’t. It’s possible it won’t but it — I’m — more likely it will. She will — the Democrats are going to say, “If we can win in Charleston, we can win anywhere.”
But understand how the structure of this came about. The Democrats actually were going to have a primary with a millionaire Democratic gentleman who was going to run. The national party and the local party got — pushed him out of the race so it was an uncontested primary so she could emerge unscathed while the Republicans having their primary.
You think the Republican establishment in South Carolina and Charleston nationally did anything to say to Mark Sanford, who, whatever you think of Mark, is a flawed person. He doesn’t belong to be running in this kind of race.
And said, “You’re not going to run. And if you do, when we have a run-off we’re all going to unite around whoever’s in the run-off. This is not about you. It is about the country and the Party.”
The Republicans have done nothing. The paralysis and the lethargy, and it’s a long answer to your question. And it’s matched by what is going on in Massachusetts today. And we could go after Gomez, the — was nominated. Who’s a former — I think a former SEAL and a Hispanic candidate, the Republican nominee.
People said, “Oh, my God, could this be right (inaudible)?” Of course not. Well, there are two polls this week. Fairleigh Dickinson shows it’s six points with Markey ahead, and Markey’s a very flawed candidate. And then one the Democratic PPP people who have the race in Charleston at nine points for the Democrat, for Colbert-Busch, has the race at four points.
The National Senate Campaign Committee has so much debt it’s not doing anything that change — none of the outside groups are doing anything. And my question is, even a piece of research that asks this question.
Oh, my God. You know, you — it’d be nice to win somewhere. It did — maybe the Boston Marathon has had an effect. But as long as you have the same losers in charge protecting their arrangements, which is what the Republican Party is, you are doomed.
It is — Charleston is a sample of the — of what the — of — the epitaph of the Whigs that a historian wrote. “First they lost their citadels of support and then they abandoned their principles.” Which is how they went from being in the White House and disappearing within six years.
Bill Whittle: Well, I couldn’t have put that any better. I completely agree. And one thing I’ve noticed going around the country is that there seems to be a sea change since the Romney loss not among the RNC.
As I said last night with New Coke they seem to be determined to make things worse and worse. But the donor base, the people who are supporting the RNC and the GOP leadership has had enough. I think they’re really fed up. I think that’s exactly right, Pat.
Tom, I want to ask you a question that I get a lot from people. We hear a lot from people in Tea Party groups and Republican groups. And they say, “We elected guys in 2010. We elect conservatives. They go to Washington and all of a sudden they don’t stand up for any of their principles.
“We send people who seem to be conservative firebrand. They end up voting for more spending. They don’t attack these guys. They don’t go after them.” And as a person who has the most remarkable conservative credentials I’ve ever seen, the endorsements on your website are just breathtaking. Every force of good in the world has got their logo on Tom’s site.
Can you tell us, first of all, about some of the pressures that come upon you as a freshman to make you conform to this party of stupid that Pat just talked about? And can you also tell us how you plan to fight them and how incoming candidates can maintain a sense of their individual moral and political identity in the face of this incredible pressure to conform?
Tom Cotton: Well, first I just want to say thank you all for being here. And thank you for the warm welcome.
We are trying not to be the stupid party, as I think Jon Stewart may have first labeled conservatives that. And I think that we have made some modest progress over the last few months. I’ve been in office now for four months.
You know, we talked — the start of this panel was going to be how we can get back on our feet. I think Republicans were definitely off their feet and on the ground after the election. And then most particularly at the fiscal cliff legislation that passed on New Year’s Day.
I was not a member of Congress yet but I had flown up to get ready to be sworn in just a few days later. And the Party was very divided, obviously. You saw that in the voting and you saw that in the votes of our leadership on that legislation.
But in the past four months we didn’t fight on the debt ceiling in January. We simply temporarily suspended it so we could have fight on more favorable terrain that related to the spending cuts known as sequestration.
There was not any widespread belief in Washington that those cuts would go into effect. Modest cuts of 5% in domestic agencies that had seen their budget grow by 17% over the last four years. The Republican Party and the House stood together.
The President I thought engaged in overwrought rhetoric for a month saying that prisoners were in a rampage through the streets because prison guards were going to be furloughed. That meat was going to rot in the factory. That flights were going to fall from the sky because air traffic controllers were going to be furloughed.
We said that you can reduce spending this modest amount to help get our budget deficits under control. We had a showdown on this about a week and a half ago when the President did force needless furloughs at the FAA that led to long flight delays.
And initially he had said you’re not going to change these furloughs until you increase taxes. Which was basically saying to the American people we’re going to make you sit on tarmacs and wait until you cough up more tax revenue.
Bill Whittle: Exactly.
Tom Cotton: But ultimately because Republicans did stand firm on principle there the Democrats and the Senate folded. They approved a legislation that would not increase spending or increase the deficit but would simply move money within FAA accounts. Something we said was feasible all along. Something that we forced them to do by this legislation, and the President signed it.
And I think it goes to show the American people now realize that we do face a debt crisis. And that the kind of fireman first strategy that you see at local governments when they threaten to lay off firemen and teachers and police officers, not bureaucrats and administrators when they are trying to get a tax increase, that often you see in Washington as well is no longer persuasive.
So I think over the last four months Republicans have gotten back on their feet. And you can see that in the polls as well. I think Pat said that the President’s approval rating is 48% now among registered voters.
Pat Caddell: On every issue he’s way down.
Tom Cotton: Yes, on every issue he’s way down. At his press conference this week I thought he seemed frustrated and defeated. The take-aways from the press conference that he just wants to blame Republicans for everything. That’s nothing new.
But he’s overreached over the last four months. He got $600 billion in tax increases on January 1. He continues to press for more tax increases. He pressed through the failed gun control policies of the past. And by standing firm and simply saying, “No, we’re going to stop bad laws,” which can be as important in Congress as passing good laws, Republicans are back on their feet.
And as Pat said, we’re not going to succeed by abandoning our principles. Or becoming another liberal party. We’re going to succeed by standing firm on entitlement principles that are announced in the declaration and that have always been the key to American success.
Limited in constitutional government, the free enterprise system, strong national defense, traditional morality and so forth. There are concerns that we have to address of the American people.
In 1980 when Ronald Reagan came into office you had double digit inflation. And you had a top marginal tax rate of 70%. That’s not the case today. For a lot of middle income American families that are paying little in income tax but a lot in payroll taxes, they’re facing challenges related to the cost of living.
Whether it’s the cost of tuition for their children or the cost of health care, the cost of utilities, all those are a direct result of failed big government policies. Of spiraling inflation in tuition. Of Obamacare. Of efforts to impose cap in trade to the EPA or not reaching energy resources that are on public land and public waters for which we have genuine solutions as conservatives.
We just have to explain those solutions and how they address the concerns of today’s American families. And if you look at the polls from the last election, Pat would know this better than I. I think Barack Obama scored something like 70% or 80% on the question, “Cares more about Americans.”
Bill Whittle: That was the election right there.
Tom Cotton: I mean, we should not as conservatives think that that is an immaterial question. I mean, can anyone imagine Ronald Reagan losing on that question?
Bill Whittle: No.
Tom Cotton: Of someone who cares about Americans like me. Or going back further. Can someone imagine Abraham Lincoln, if there was a public polling at the time, losing on a question that he cares about Americans like me. That’s kind of your job as a public leader to care about the concerns of the country and the citizens of our country.
In terms of the divisions in our Republican conference and the House, sure there are divisions. No two people are ever going to agree on anything. Anybody who’s married knows that. And when you have 234 people, they’re certainly not going to agree.
And we all represent very different areas. You know, I represent a very big rural district in Arkansas that has concerns that are somewhat different from a district in the Northeast or the Midwest that is more heavily unionized or more focused on manufacturing, whereas my district has a larger agricultural and forestry and oil and gas presence.
You have to try to navigate those differences, though, and stand on principles that we know can succeed. In terms of what you and Pat both said about trying to explain our position to the American people, it’s always hard if your party doesn’t hold the White House.
You don’t speak with one voice. There are 234 members of Congress. I am hired by the 730,000 constituents I represent in Arkansas. And I serve them. The same way with every other member of Congress.
So if they don’t — if you’re not directly accountable to someone, which no one in the Congress is accountable to each other, we’re accountable to our voters, all you can do is try to persuade and influence. Some people go to Washington and change their ways. I’ve focused on trying to go to Washington and change the ways of Washington.
And I have found simply if you focus on the policy of the matter and try to get the policy right, explain your policy differences, whether it’s to someone who wants you to vote yes or someone who wants you to vote no, and which there always are people on both sides, that there’s actually not a lot of pressure or intimidation or consequences. People respect honest policy differences.
When you start making political calculations, though, explaining why you’re going to vote for a bill for this or that political reason, what you’re really saying is, “I base public policy and I base my political principles on political calculations.”
And all someone has to do is change your calculation, whether it’s using a poll or using other influence of key groups in your district or anything else.
Bill Whittle: That’s funny because every time conservatives talk about policy we lose. And every time we talk about philosophy and morality we win. I was especially interested in what you said about Ronald Reagan and his compassion index.
That compassion vote is what cost us the election. Romney won exit polls on the economy. Won exit polls on job creation. Won exit polls on debt reduction. Won slightly on exit polls on national defense. But Barack Obama was perceived to be he cared more about people. Some huge number, 81% to 19% or something. Yes.
And, by the way, one of the most encouraging things I ever saw was a poll taken just a little while ago that ran a head to head, hypothetical competition, Ronald Reagan versus Barack Obama. Everybody said the country’s different today. He could never win. Reagan won with 57% of the vote in that poll because he’s perceived to have cared.
Which is a great segue for you, David. First of all, I get the sense that people have realized since the Romney loss that these traditional methods of doing things with the RNC and GOP is just not working. It’s just utter path to failure. It’s getting worse.
You’ll often hear people, David, you hear people say, “Well, politicians say, ‘Well, we can’t attack Barack Obama. He’s too popular.'” And I want to say, “He’s too popular because you don’t attack Barack Obama.” (laughter)
So can you talk to us a little bit about this Go for the Heart message and how we are not even in the right arena as far as messaging is concerned.
David Horowitz: Sure. I want to first just deal with the fatalism of conservatives. And the view that there’s all these takers and therefore it’s a foregone conclusion that we can’t win.
The statistics in the last election, Obama got 10 million fewer votes than he got in 2008. If Romney had gotten the same votes that McCain got, who ran a terrible campaign, he would’ve won. So this is entirely winnable.
On the care issue, the main statistic for me, I mean, I know the CNN poll, Asian-Americans voted 70% for Barack Obama. Asian-Americans are traditionalists, family-oriented, entrepreneurial, not on welfare. And they voted for Barack Obama. That is the failure of the Republican Party.
They voted for him because they thought he cared about them. I don’t remember big appeals to Asian-Americans in the Obama campaign. They didn’t throw goodies at the Asian-American community. On the contrary, the Asian-American community suffers from all the affirmative action programs in universities and so forth.
The message — and he didn’t communi– he gave goodies, we know that. But it was — it’s not enough — this is a huge country. There’s like 130 million people voting. You can’t buy everyone. And you can’t even buy a majority.
He persuaded them how? Because not only he but the entire Democratic Party runs campaigns every single time on Republicans are conducting a war against minorities, against women, against the poor. It’s a big lie and Republicans have no answer for it. That all they say is, “No, no. I’m –.” They’re always on defense. And when you’re on defense, you’ve already lost.
The way to do it is not rocket science. And probably most of you heard me say this before. The — one is, you just copy the Democratic strategy. The Democratic convention was all about the war — the victims of Republicans. Nobody at the Republican convention gave a speech on the victims of Obama and they’re legion. They’re — it’s the whole country.
Republicans always talk like accountants and they do talk about policy. And they do talk about constitutional principles. And for people who understand the economy, for people who under, you know, who have read the Constitution, you’re going to vote for Republicans.
But you have to speak to people’s emotions. And the way to do it is you talk about the victims of the Democrats. You don’t say, “Okay, we have a trillion — whatever it is. $5 trillion deficit.” Who understands that in the great unwashed mass out there? It’s a war on the young.
This is the most massive transfer of wealth from young people who need it to older people who have it. It’s unconscionable what he’s doing to young people. We live in a country now where kids graduate from college with a degree in women’s studies or actually in radical feminism. Or blacks graduate with a degree in racism. (laughter) And they have $100,000 debts starting life.
I just — nobody in this room who can imagine what it would’ve been like. You’re 20 years old, you’re $100,000 in debt. It’s horrific. That’s the way (laughter) — the way that — where’s a young man? I’m looking out there.
And of course the biggest thing is that the Democrats control every major failing city that’s destroying the lives of mainly inner city black and Hispanic people. And mainly kids. They control the school systems 100%. They’ve controlled them for 50 — well, actually 70 years. Whatever it is.
Chicago. They had a teachers strike in Chicago. The teachers abandoned the kids in the schools. Who are in the schools? They’re all black. And, I mean, I don’t know the composition of Chicago. There’s probably some Hispanic kids. Why did they go on strike?
This is in the middle of the campaign. Why did they go on strike? Wasn’t for salaries. It was because they didn’t want their rewards, their bonuses, their raises connected to their performance. They’re screwing poor black and Hispanic kids. They don’t care about them. And the President doesn’t care.
It was so easy. Christie, whom I de– all of us are turned off now, for good reason. But he was the most articulate and aggressive Republican. He gave a speech. He mentioned the teacher unions. If you read that speech, he never once mentions the victims.
He was — it was about performance and reward but he didn’t say the kid, you know, it’s black kids in Newark who are suffering that we’re saving. It’s so easy to do. If every time you think of a policy you think of the negative effect on the symbolic victim communities.
These corrupt Republican consultants, I agree 100% with Pat on this. And it’s the big problem. Republicans are businesspeople. And therefore they see everything as a business. Democrats are missionaries. They’re saving the world and they see it in terms of redemption. Republicans have to see it that way a lot more than they do.
The final thing — well, there are two things I want to say. Foreign policy. Republicans have never, since 1945, have never, never won a national election where foreign — national security wasn’t a primary issue. And they won many of them when they were a minority party.
The Democrats control both Houses (inaudible) 35 years for the House of Representatives, which really is the popular — represents the popular will. But in 28 of the 42 Cold War years, Republicans won the Presidency despite the fact of being a minority party.
And the three of the four Democrats, the fourth was the wretched Jimmy Carter who pull — who was misperceived as a military man and a Southerner so a conservative. But the other three, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson, were Reagan Republicans by the standards that we have today. They were militant anti-Communists. They were strong on defense. And aggressive in foreign policy.
The final thing I want to say is, as I said last night, this is really war. The Democrats see politics as war. Republicans see it as kind of business where you make deals. When Democrats make a deal, it’s for a longer strategic objective, not being liked. Republicans make deals so people will like them and they won’t criticize them so much. Democrats make deals because they’re going to the next step.
If you read psychological warfare manuals, the first principle of psychological warfare is you attack the commander in chief. And you attack him on moral grounds. You tarnish him morally. This is what the Democrats did when they sabotaged the Iraq war.
They went after Bush. They said he was a liar. They said he was conducting a war to kill young Americans. The truth was that it’s the Democrats who were lying and they’re the ones who sent young Americans to die and then betrayed the war. Something no Republican will say in public. Republicans are too damn polite.
Obama is a liar. It’s probably impolitic to just call him that straight. You know, you just say he doesn’t tell the truth. He doesn’t tell the truth. And he doesn’t care. He didn’t care. That’s why there were four American heroes dead in Benghazi because the President didn’t care.
He didn’t care enough about your lives to make sure that the FBI interrogated the bomber, the surviving bomber until he found out his networks. That’s the way you attack him. You got to be rude. Republicans, I mean, to me that’s the biggest problem. They’re too damn polite.
Romney in the debates, well, you know, why didn’t he say, “You know, Mr. President, you spent $300 million calling me a murderer and a predator and this and that. Why would you do that?” Never said it. Instead he hugged him for the last two debates. Come on.
Anyway. I think we can win. I think we can win big. I think that this whole administration is a train wreck. They’re going to botch everything. And it’s just Republicans’ timidity in confronting them.
And we have a couple of Republicans who’ve done that. We had Cruz, we had a South Carolina congressman questioning Hillary. I mean, I would’ve gone a lot farther with Hillary than they did but that’s what we need. We need Republicans who aren’t afraid to have people say, oh, that say that they’re rude and ill mannered. And not care what the New York Times says.
Bill Whittle: You wanted to add something, Pat?
Pat Caddell: Yes, I want to add something to David. You should all read David’s little book here on Go for the Heart. I mean, Dave and I — I’m a Democrat. I blanche at the putting everybody in the same box but that’s another matter.
And what bothers me about Republicans is actually I’m an — I belong to a new party. It’s called the Americans.
Bill Whittle: Yes. (multiple speakers)
Pat Caddell: It’s called the 75% of the American people, the 80% who believe in American exceptionalism. Who believe that the dominant political ideology of America is common sense. It’s not liberal and conservative, it’s common sense.
David’s points in this book — and by the way, on the Romney cares, I dare defy anyone to tell me one moment, spontaneous moment when Mitt Romney showed a bit of empathy for any American in the entire two years he was running for president.
Bill Whittle: Yes.
Pat Caddell: Okay? You wonder how you end with those numbers? And leave aside the rest of the campaign. Look, Obama, for instance, what David said, what I’ve been saying.
I’m on a show called Political Insiders. It’s on Sunday on Fox at 5.25, 5.30 with Doug Schoen, John LeBoutillier, for those of you who don’t know. And we do politics a little differently. We just get into the reality, not talking points.
But I said a couple weeks ago, “Look, the President is waging war on the American people.” The point that David made. Never in my — in the history of the United States we have a president that goes out of his way to try to hurt Americans to make a political point.
David Horowitz: Yes.
Pat Caddell: Now, why am I saying that and nobody in the Republican Party or Congress or anybody in the country doing it? Why is there no narrative? I mean, when Tom Colburn put out this stuff about all the cuts and the same thing with the FAA, you know, when you go and you go, you’re cutting out the White House tours of the people’s house but you’re willing to spend money on this.
Why isn’t that every day being hammered? And why isn’t the same thing on — I’ll get to Obamacare I hope in a little bit. But here’s the point that David made about the real victims. In two thou– there was a better way and some people showed how to do it.
I was involved in the project first because of Lee Hanley’s generosity more than anything else called Real Leader. It’s something we actually approach. We used in Wisconsin. It’s approach Steve Bannon and I did on a film called Hope and Change. Which was to take Democrat. Who do you want to win?
You know, I — Republicans need to and conservatives need to answer one question. Do you want to feel good or do you want to win? The — David said this is war. And it is — then one side — and then notice how Dave and I come — understand exactly how the — my side — what theoretically was my side but what — how they wage war.
The — politics is life and death. It is — and the re– on your side it’s all about arrangements. And self-aggrandizements, basically. And some principle. But here’s the point. Look at the minorities. Look at these things.
You — Romney could’ve taken — I saw analysis this morning, could’ve taken 65% of the Hispanic vote would’ve been a loss. The real issue with Asians, he lost because a lot of people didn’t bother to vote. And he had nothing to say.
And during those debates when I had it with him in Benghazi when I said, “Hell, I thought he was going to endorse Obama.” You know, when you become as craven as that campaign became because they assumed they would win, you have problems.
But look at this story. We did a real leader. In Hope and Change. We took people who were undecided Democrats, independents, a lot of them. Women, blacks, minorities, Hispanics. And let them tell their stories.
Americans — the thing with Obama was, everyone liked him. They didn’t like him being attacked. But thought he was a terrible leader, which is what the polls today show. (coughs) Our whole argument was, people will connect the dots.
When you start with politics that people are stupid and can’t figure it out, you are doomed. It mean — you’re easy prey for an attack on, like — as the one the Democrats have done on the Republicans.
But the point, if you get people and let them speak right now, because politics ads are incredible. But they work. And if you put — and we showed this. And the evidence — I didn’t do the polling on it. People did analysis. They, “Oh, my God, that’s the greatest approach ever.”
The Republicans won’t do it because it won’t talk in terms of what — and this is my problem, Tom, with your leadership in Congress. You don’t talk about people the way David said, people’s lives.
That what’s happening to them, the discussion in Washington is irrelevant to their lives. Anyone who saw the Waiting for Superman which — about education. What an issue this is. The Dem– my party basically has bought off the leadership of its interest groups, particularly minorities, and said, “You give us your votes and by the way we’ll give you this.” But we really give you nothing.
But you don’t show the price. And that’s what I said about the approach we took. People’s (inaudible) Obama had failed them. Somebody did a — (inaudible) poll. Did a film on this. Out of 30 some people in a focus group, 20 of — were undecided, 25 of them went — 20 some of them went — immediately said they’d vote against Obama because it resonated with them.
You have to be smart about this. And you have to have strategies. And there aren’t. And you — and I agree with David, you go and show people how they are being had. The biggest issue in this country is corruption.
80 something percent of the American people believe this entire system from left to right is rigged for people who have money and lobbyists, and they’re right. The big banks, the whole bit. That corruption issue.
But what do the Republicans do? You’re the out party so are you the anti-Washington party where 75% of the people are against the political class? When you do the fiscal cliff deal which Tom is suggested was not a — by his — just his body language would — didn’t think was a great deal.
What do you do at the end? Joe Biden walks in and says, “All we want this Bacchus, all these tax breaks for Salingers and everybody else.” And the Republican Party swallows it whole.
The Republican Party went along the other day with a bill to gut the disclosures that Peter Schweitzer’s team had found about insider trading with Congress, Nancy Pelosi. They gutted it without a vote in the House. I went — I mean, without a debate.
Same thing with (inaudible) you do Obamacare and exempt the Congress. These things infuriate Americans. But why and only after it gets exposed to I hear Boehner get up, say “Oh, no, no, we won’t do that.”
Bill Whittle: Well, let’s stay on the political arena before we go to a little bit wider thing with the culture. And we’ll go around the panel one more time and maybe we’ll start with you, Tom.
Let’s just say for the sake of the argument, we’ll give you all three the same question. Let’s just say that you’ve become the RNC chairman. You’ve become the RNC czar. You have an unlimited pot of money.
You have absolute control. Everybody has sworn allegiance to these new ideas that are going to save this party and get us back to some relevance. So let me just ask you, starting with you, Tom, if you had the ability to command the RNC structure and you were to concentrate on three issues, candidates, message, and policy, as succinctly as you can, if you had absolute dictatorial power, what would you do?
Tom Cotton: Yes. (laughter)
Bill Whittle: Okay. You make good president.
Tom Cotton: No, I mean, just — pol– the RNC doesn’t do as much work on policy as do our elected leaders. We elect our leaders to make policy. The RNC should provide kind of the party infrastructure that we need. Some of —
Bill Whittle: Let me rephrase it, then. Forget about the existing structures. If it were up to you and you had resources and people went along with you, and you thought it was — you — what would you do to change this party’s ability to communicate with the people? Again, in terms of candidates, messaging, and some key policies.
Tom Cotton: I would build that infrastructure that is necessary to provide the campaigns to help identify our voters, to identify people who might be our voters, and to get those voters to the polls. Whether it’s absentee or early or on Election Day.
Pat talked about the race in South Carolina and how we had 16 different candidates. I don’t think that it’s the prudent course for Washington party officials to be intervening in primaries. You saw this a couple cycles ago, put the heavy thumb on the scale for Charlie Crist in Florida and look what happened? We got Marco Rubio instead and Charlie Crist revealed his true colors as a Democrat.
We need to let the primary electorate and states make their decisions. For candidates, I think we can do a better job of candidate training. That’s something you can offer to any kind of candidate, whatever political persuasion they are, whether they come from the more conservative wing of our party or the more moderate wing.
But candidates especially in high profile races, in senate races, for instance, need the most advanced training they can get. The challenges we had in data and Get out the Vote last cycle of which Pat spoke are not insurmountable.
This happened in 2000. In the final days of the 2000 election George Bush was campaigning in places like California because they thought they had place like Florida locked up. He ended up losing the popular vote by about 500,000 votes.
He and the political team around him realized that this was a serious problem so they developed something called the 72-Hour Project. They tested it out in off-year, off-cycle elections in, like, Pennsylvania judges races, of all things. And they refined it. And in 2002 they turn out war.
In 2004, John Kerry hit his voter targets in every single county in Ohio, for instance. Maybe every single precinct. That’s — you know what a campaign says? If we get this many votes in this county or this precinct, we’re going to win.
Record performance. It’s just that the RNC and the Bush campaign had an even greater record performance. And in 2006 I’ve read stories that the RNC 72-Hour Project was reaching its targets in key precincts and key counties. The problem is they had so turned off our voters that they were turning out Republicans and independents were going to vote for Democrats.
And since then it’s just kind of atrophied. So it’s not that Republicans can’t compete on this kind of political infrastructure. We can, we just have to make it a priority. And it really is something that the Party needs to do because as someone who was recently a candidate, I can say that requires a lot of work, a lot of investment, a lot of time.
And it’s something that benefits all candidates from our presidential candidate down to our city council candidates. But campaigns have to be more focused on their own campaign, on their own strategy and on their own message to the voters.
So that’s one thing that I would really focus on if I was advising the RNC is to develop the competing structures that we need to offset the advantages that emerged in the Democratic Party in the last four years.
But I agree with David, it’s not hopeless at all. I mean, really none of the above won the last presidential election because of the thaw in votes as opposed to a lot of enthusiasm for Barack Obama.
Bill Whittle: We’ve only got about ten minutes left, so I’d like to finish this round and then have a very quick culture round. Dave, what would you do if you had utter control of the apparatus of the Republican Party?
David Horowitz: Well, I agree that there’s a lot of structural problems. I mean, I’d try to have a lawyer at every polling booth in the country watching the fraud that the Democrats are conducting. I think the ground war is really important.
Bill Whittle: A videographer would be nice to have there, too.
David Horowitz: If you had James O’Keefe. Yes. (laughter) But I still think that the messaging is the issue. They have to go after Obama and take him down. He will take down all the congress races that are close.
And it’s really, in my view, easy to do. I didn’t mention the fact that the Obamas are living like Louis the XVI and Marie Antoinette.
Pat Caddell: Let them eat cake.
David Horowitz: While the coun–
Pat Caddell: Let them eat cake is (inaudible).
David Horowitz: Yes. And that hypocrisy, I mean, again, you just push him up against the four vacations in three months. He spent the — well, Peter Schweitzer did this, too. The — whatever it is, 900 hours on golfing and 400 hours on the economy.
He just doesn’t care about you. That’s the — you’ve got to go after Obama. And every Republican consultant and Boehner and everybody else will say you can’t do that or we’ll be destroyed. That’s a big problem.
The other thing is, well, when you have an issue. I mean, it’s such a big problem because Republicans don’t have the intuitive sense to do it. But I’ve put this out before. The housing crisis, which was the trigger of the whole financial collapse.
Republicans are good. They understand that Barney Frank. They don’t understand that Barack Obama was a key to that. But since Jimmy Carter, this is the whole Democratic Party. Jimmy Carter introduced the Community Reinvestment Act.
It brought the whole house of cards down. Why? Because they attacked banks as racist for following prudent economic policies. Very simple policy that every American can understand very easily. You don’t lend money to somebody you know can’t pay it back. It’s really simple.
But they abolished that principle for banks by [nowmowing] it. Well, that’s an old term. But by —
Bill Whittle: No, that’s right, though.
David Horowitz: By calling them racists. It was that simple. And Obama was the ACORN lawyer. Now, who suffered from that? Well, of course we all did through the financial crisis.
But who were the primary sufferers? One. Poor people. And poor black and Hispanic people who got suckered into buying homes that they were going to lose. I mean, how traumatic is it? And how evil is it to say, “We’re going to give you the American Dream. You’re going to have your own house.” Knowing that it was going to be taken back two years later.
That’s a very easy thing to communicate to people. Where’s — I mean, I don’t know all the statistics on this but I do know that black America lost 54% of its net worth, $100 billion because of the fall in housing prices.
The greatest social success story in our time, probably in any time, was the rise of the black middle class since World War II. And they just took half of it away. Now, the Republican consultants if they hear you say this will say, “Well, we’re never going to win the black vote. So forget that.”
That’s not the point. That black vote is — the black — the — what happens to black people is symbolic for all minorities. And for all independent people who want to have a good conscience and care. That’s — nobody mentioned this in the campaigns.
I’m telling you this, it’s really simple. It’s not rocket science. It’s just having the cojones to do it. (laughter) That’s it.
Bill Whittle: We’re running short on time but, Pat, if you had a scalpel —
Pat Caddell: Well, I just want —
Bill Whittle: — and you could cut the stupid out, what would you do?
Pat Caddell: The first thing is I would understand is what — and let me just say this. In The Game of Thrones there’s a scene when the — on the wall where the guy said, “You didn’t send the ravens. You have one job. You were supposed to send the ravens.”
And as my friend Ray Levine says, “This is my party.” He’s a Republican. Says, “They don’t know how to send the ravens.” This is a 30 front war, as Michael Barnes, my lawyer, likes to call it. This is World War II.
Think of this where you ware. It’s World War II. We’re six months after the election and there’s still no — everyone’s still retreating. A 30 front war has many fronts, some of them are — and that’s how we won World War II.
We were on our butt on December 7, 1941. The fleet of the United States — Pacific fleet is at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. And we have the 27th largest army in the world. And within four years you liberate the entire world. It did not happen by accident.
It happened because Marshall had an idea about you had, as I said, these many fronts. And you fought the important ones, the big ones, you had the little ones. You didn’t get to 1944 and the invasion of Normandy without 1942 and ’43.
You have to do this. You have to have stories. David Horowitz just told two things that Republican consultants and most Republicans wouldn’t understand. How do you talk to young people about how they’re being screwed, number one?
And two, how do you — the — what you just said about what happened with the minority communities, it bothers the conscience of all Americans. It is back what I said, the issue, Stupid, is corruption. It is a system where people —
And by the way, Fannie and Freddie were as much Republican as Democrat. My God, they bought everyone in Washington. And it was the worst thing. But you’ve got to send the ravens. And most importantly is this, you have to have a strategic center.
There is no strategic center. There’s no strategic (inaudible) that says here you go. Here’s how to do it. I — if we had time, I would go through you how the Left after the 2000 — the far Left in the 2000 — after 2004 decided they weren’t going to have all these consultants and Democratic Party screwing them anymore. They were going to own it.
The people responsible, what is happening in the Republican Party are its donors. They are the people writing the checks to the people who are defrauding their own people and playing them for marks, as I said at CPAC. They played the donors for marks. They’ve played the Republican grassroots for sheep.
And this is, you know, and everybody in the country for fools. And this you have to stop. And you have to — and so I think there’s a way to do this but if you think you can do it through the established order. And let me just say when I say that in Congress they don’t do it. This emotional Socialist.
I saw, and I hope you all see this Gosnell documentary that Fox had on last night. It is just one of the most powerful things. It’s about how minorities are being handled on social issues. And what happened there.
But just take this latest decision where Obama reversed himself. Talked about science yesterday. About the decision of the FDA in light of the judge’s decision that 15 year old girls can buy the morning after pills off the shelf.
You can’t get a tattoo without your parents’ permission. You can’t buy a cigarette till you’re 18. What — why didn’t the Republicans the minute that judge made that — put an emergency piece of legislation in? Why wasn’t there a message say, because this is the kind of Socialist you want to fight.
It’s about parental control. It’s not about abortion or it’s about parents having a right. But none of that ever happens because you don’t have narratives. And that’s telling stories. And that you have to do. And that gets you, I think, to your culture question.
Bill Whittle: Well, we’re about —
Pat Caddell: We are out of time.
Bill Whittle: No, it’s okay. Here’s what we’re going to do. No one can drop a World War II reference on me without me coming back with one. (laughter) So let’s do this. We’ve got about five minutes left to wrap this up.
As you said, Pat, after December 7, 1941, the United States was knocked on its heels. We were defeated everywhere. The Japanese continued to sweep throughout the Pacific. We couldn’t get ashore for a year in Europe and that was in Tunisia, of all places.
And Americans wanted to get back in the fight. And I know all of us want to get back into the fight. So the only thing we actually did during World War II to get us back into the fight was a symbolic event, but it had enormous morale consequences.
And that was the Do-Little Raid. They put bombers on an aircraft carrier. They sent them out across the ocean. They bombed Japan. I think they slightly damaged a factory and may have hit a school. But Americans got a chance to say, “We’re back in the fight. We bombed Tokyo.”
And in the words of George Patton in the great movie Patton, “Where we going, General?” “I’m going to Berlin. I want to shoot that paper hanging son of a bitch myself.” (laughter)
So with about a minute each, if you could do one simple, immediate, quick thing to get the morale of this team back up and give them a sense that we’ve got to fight left (inaudible). We start to get a sense of victory, what is the one thing you would do on the table right now? You got about a minute, sorry about the time. Dave, where would you go?
David Horowitz: Well, I think there’s just — what did you say? There’s 30 fronts?
Pat Caddell: Thirty fronts.
David Horowitz: [Milwad] is coming up for confirmation hearings. He was Barney Frank’s right-hand in screwing black America. To — I mean, if he was confronted that way. But it’s difficult. We don’t have enough black representatives to do it.
But if you do it and call him a hypo– first of all, I should say all these things about defending minorities against the Democrats is a man bites dog story. So whoever does it is going to get news right away.
And I would just do that on every front that we have. I mean, there’s just, you know, Pat has come up with several here. It, again, it’s not rocket science. It’s a question of thinking outside the box for Republicans. And being willing to be called bad-mannered the way Ted — our speaker tonight, Ted Cruz, has been.
We had three guys, Lee and Rand Paul and Cruz. And they stood up and they made symbolic gestures. Just symbolic. I mean, the filibuster is, you know, and they got attacked by Republicans and by Democrats.
But the people responded. They’re the stars now of the Party.
Bill Whittle: That’s right.
David Horowitz: And anybody who realizes that and is willing to brave the lightning. If the lightning hits you and you survive, you’re a star right away.
Bill Whittle: There you go.
David Horowitz: Instant.
Bill Whittle: Tom, there’s 535 Americans that live in a democracy. The rest of us don’t but you do. You live in a democracy. (multiple speakers) What would you do if you had a minute or two —
David Horowitz: It would take a totalitarian system —
Bill Whittle: You have — you’re one of the 535 Americans that actually lives in a democracy, gets to vote on the most important issues. If you could get a quick win, what would it be?
Tom Cotton: I’d pick up on something that David said earlier and that is make the case to the American people about how Barack Obama is failing to keep America safe.
That starts with his actions abroad, what he’s done in Iraq to precipitously withdraw there. What he’s doing to undermine the efforts that our troops in Afghanistan have made.
It goes to Syria where Bashar al-Assad has crossed a red line of his own making and apparently now we’re going to have CSI Syria because we’ve got to establish the chain of custody, which is what the President said the other day.
And his failures in counterterrorism. If you look at the number of jihadists who have reached their targets in the United States, these are very salient issues, I think, to the American people.
As David said, they’ve always been at the forefront of elections at the presidential level when the Republican candidate has won. And in my experience on the campaign trail, for instance, on Benghazi for two weeks after those attacks on September 11th, that was the first question I always got asked.
So I’d take all those. I’d make four speeches. I’d have committee hearings. And I’d get to the bottom of why the President is failing to keep America safe.
David Horowitz: The national security issue (applause) — the national security issue is the issue that unifies the Republican Party. When you’re talking national security all these social issues, all the divisions in the Party disappear.
And this is why Republicans won during the Cold War. Because the factions understand that that’s the crucial issue. Let me just say on the Iraq. I agree with you 100% on Iraq.
Two things. One, the reason that we have given Iraq to Iran, our mortal enemy, is because Obama didn’t care. He didn’t even participate in the negotiations. And he didn’t stand up for having a base there.
He betrayed every single American and Iraqi who gave their lives for Iraqi freedom. And not one Republican has said that. That was a horrifying betrayal not to secure Iraq from the clutches of Iran who every American understands wants to wipe us off the face of the earth.
Bill Whittle: Pat, you got (multiple speakers)?
David Horowitz: The moral thing, there’s no after —
Bill Whittle: You got one minute. You got one minute for your Do-Little Raid.
Pat Caddell: I was — I’m going to take two because it’s important. And this goes right to — you know, I’m sorry, Michael. This is really important. The one thing–
Bill Whittle: I want to stop (multiple speakers).
Pat Caddell: — you do right now, right now, is that John Boehner stopped this trying to hide and put his head in the sand with five committees dealing with Benghazi and have a special select committee which has a chief counsel to pursue.
The Benghazi, as I have said since November, and after — including Mr. Romney’s craven performance of not mentioning it, which allowed the media not to cover it, by the way. Which disqualifies him in my eyes to even be President.
The, you know, which you — this issue blows up everything. Because it is the greatest cover up, as I have said since day one, about Watergate, it’s about the media. It is about Tom Donlin. I will make the accusation, I’m telling you. But until — and it’s fraying at the edges.
And Boston Marathon took the lid off. The two are directly related to Islamic radicalism and to this administration’s policy of firing FBI agents. Allowing the Muslim Brotherhood Care organization to edit and decide what’s in the training manuals of the FBI.
I’ve been doing polling for two years for Secure America now. John McLaughlin and I appeared here for David’s group. And so we’ve got numbers. This is not just unites the Republican Party. It unites a huge majority of everyone in America.
It’s Democrats, Hispanics. And you know most importantly (inaudible) women more than men. This is, and in a process in this (inaudible) committee to in fact take this apart. And when you start taking this apart, it will all collapse.
And it will have major — it’s called going for the jugular. Yes, it’s political. So was Watergate in a sense. Watergate was immoral. This is immoral. And the President, look, the deal made with Hillary Clinton was simple. And Bill Clinton cut it.
I said this on Political Insiders, why you should watch it. I said the day of the 60 Minutes interview before it happened, “This is the greatest pay-off in history.”
Barack Obama is paying off Hillary Clinton by asking 60 Minutes to do this interview of this nothing thing so we could basically promote her for president. Because she had agreed to take the fall for his absence being able, not caring. What David said.
He could make a phone call to someone who announces their sexual preference, but he couldn’t make a phone call the night of Benghazi?
Bill Whittle: Beautiful.
Pat Caddell: This is — these are moral questions. And you have to be willing to blow them up. And that — and if Boehner continues, there are 101 Republicans. I don’t know if you’re one of them, Tom, the demand of the select committee.
If you — then if you people who give money don’t tell John Boehner not another penny till you do what’s right, then you’re responsible for it.
Unidentified Audience Member: Hear, hear. (applause)
David Horowitz: He’s right.
Bill Whittle: Eat your cookies. Well, I know I speak for everybody up here and certainly for the Freedom Center to say what a pleasure it is to have a free conversation in a free country like Texas. I flew out here from Los Angeles, and I always come — I always enjoy coming to visit America. I grew up in America. Don’t mess with Texas, it’s a whole ‘nother country.
Thanks very much (inaudible). We got a busy day today. And I hope you enjoyed the panel. (applause)
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