Below are the video and transcript of Pat Caddell’s Keynote speech which took place at the Opening Breakfast on Nov. 6, 2015 at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2015 Restoration Weekend. The event was held November 5-8th at the Belmond Charleston Place Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina.
Pat Caddell: Let me start by saying – in 2011, I spoke, and some of you will remember, I said – everyone was very optimistic about 2012, and I said that we would be meeting the next year to celebrate Barack Obama’s reelection, which we were. Because I thought that the fight that was going on was not being organized.
I want to say now, about this election year, something very different. All of the signs would point, just in terms of what’s been happening the last few years – what happened Election Day, which I’ll talk about in a little bit for a moment – everything is positioned historically and attitudinally, I believe, in this country that would result in someone other than Hillary Clinton being elected President.
I say that, but this, remember, it depends on two things. We have a different election year, and we have to overcome a lot of apparent stupidity, which continues.
Having said that, I want to say this election year – a year ago, I said this would be the most disruptive and the most – election of historical change that we probably would see in our lifetime since 1968. I think everything that has happened so far this election year has borne out the research that we have done – what I call Smith Project, which I announced here, and I’m hoping we will have a chance to share with you later, that Lee Hanley helped make possible. And Lee is actually the inspiration for it – which was to go out and discover a couple years ago – was there a different possibility of politics in America? And we’ve updated that Smith survey. And I will tell you it is.
We stand – we have not even seen the chaos yet that is about to be unveiled. Everything else has been almost a precursor to this. And how it ends I do not know yet, but I want to give you the parameters of it.
We have in this country two mindsets. Well, we have mine, and then we have the mainstream political class analysis, mainstream media, and all the people who are so upset, because nothing they believe is coming true. They start from a premise that there are only two parties, and that nothing changes, and that it is a totally divided country, and it is a matter of inches of what happens politically.
And then there is the new reality, which is, as I’ve said, a country which is not just in revolt, but something greater. I am writing a piece right now announcing our results. And I start with the story of saying – in 1796, I think it was. Whatever it was, when the Bastille fell – ‘89, I guess. Louis XVI was in Versailles and [Nicolas], his finance minister, came to him, who was supposed to solve all the problems, and told the king about the fact that the Bastille had fallen, and Necker told him that. And the king responded – is this a revolt? And Necker sighed and said – no, Sire, I fear this is a revolution.
And to that extent, I believe that’s what we could face and are facing right now in the desire of the American people, not for a violent French Revolution, but for revolution. There’s a new book called “Shattered” out that talks about the three great crises that changed American politics. And working backwards – the New Deal, the Civil War, and the period between 1800 and 1828, when the country became not just an aristocracy and a republic, but really a democratic republic. And that was the Jefferson-Jackson revolution that changed politics, in which, from the grassroots, the people insisted they would run. It had been their revolution; it would be their country. And they changed the politics to that extent, and that’s what we became. And I think that’s most reminiscent of what’s going on.
Let me tell you about the state of American politics that this put in play. And I want to start with something you will not hear from any of the candidates, which is, in fact, I would believe, the environment that they should start with, which is – first of all, I want to describe three attitudes that exist in this country.
Seventy-two percent of the American people flat-out say the United States is in decline. Okay? Seventy-two percent. Sixty percent of Americans believe that they inherited from their parents a better life than their parents had. The same percentage believe their children will have a worse life than they had, which is to me the abrogation of the single largest moral commandment of being an American – that we give our children better than we had. And that is being dissipated by debt, by all of the things going on in the eating of the seed corn and also a sense of our moral environment.
And I would say this – you know, if that happens, if we let that happen – and this is not some issue to stick between roads and Medicare or something. This is the greatest moral issue in this country. Because if we fail that test, there will still be a place called the United States, but there will be no America.
For 21 generations, Americans have lived to that moral commandment. And that we do not hear.
And the third is that 86 percent of the American people, when asked to choose between whether or not you work hard and play by the rules, you still get ahead in America – 86 percent say no, the rules are rigged for the rich and powerful. And that extends from the far Left to the far Right of this country.
And it’s very important to understand that is the environment, which the political class, which has separated itself from the American people, has no way of grasping. If you read them, and they still say – they’ve been saying for months Donald Trump doesn’t exist. I mean, after the last debate, which I could mention in a minute – the wonderful show of CNBC’s, to which Reince Priebus said he was shocked and embarrassed by what CNBC did. And I’m going – wait a minute, wait a minute, Reince, wait a minute. First of all, that’s not CNBC; that is a subsidiary of Comcast and, I tell you as a customer, the worst cable company that could exist, except probably yours –
— which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Obama White House and has been one of their major funders for some time. And you’re surprised that that’s the debate you get? I mean, really. But those are the kind of things I talk about, about the stupid party being stupid and the corrupt party being corrupt, and they’re both really partially the same.
The biggest attitude in America, single-largest issue that has not been spoken to, is the sense of this decline and the sense of the corruption that’s behind it. Like in Harry Potter, the word – like [Voldemort] in “Harry Potter” – the word that may not be spoken, in this election, in this country, is the word “corruption.” Because 89 percent of the American people believe that the political parties on both sides in Washington are basically rigging the rules for the people who pay them off and are taking care of their own interests over the interests of the United States.
And to that end, what we really have in this country is a question – do we make real change with leadership? Or do we simply say we’re going to continue this old battle between the same people? And I say that because anyone – the Republican grassroots, and most of you are Republicans here, know how to revolt and how angry they are. And they have every reason to be. They have a party that has not challenged the Democratic Party, as I – and I am still a Democrat – I talked to Jim Webb yesterday, by the way – he’s still alive –
— as a party, as I like to call it, the party of memory.
And I’m going to get to that in a moment. Because there lies the fruits of the possibilities of what can happen politically.
But I want to go to make a point about some of the events we have seen. The Republican – the grassroots, a few weeks ago, as they did in December – giant majorities, over two thirds, wanted their leadership out. They wanted Boehner gone, and they wanted McConnell gone. They believed overwhelmingly that they were serving the Chamber of Commerce and other interests at the expense of the beliefs of the grassroots of the party, of ordinary Republicans.
And of course, they’re right. After they won in 2014, they met in December in a back room and gave Obama everything he wanted. And they said – oh no, this is only for this time. We’re going to have a continuing resolution, which is all the same funding going on that has been going on. We won’t change that. But we’ll do it next year, when we have an appropriations process.
The one they did in December in the back room, the one that paid off the Wall Street banks basically – and Jamie Dimon, who was there lobbying – all those deals done in the back room – they’ve all been repeated in this latest get-together between Boehner’s aides, McConnell’s aides, Pelosi and the White House, for weeks.
And they went into a secret room. They didn’t pass appropriation bills. They did on defense, but they won’t – and the President vetoed it, and now there will be some battle. But they didn’t. They made an agreement in which spending would go up across the board, half for defense and half for the nondefense spending; and none of it addressing the dead or any other question. It’s just the same old politics.
But you can be guaranteed of one thing – the only thing worse than gridlock in Washington is when they get in a back room and make a compromise. And all of America knows that’s when they’re getting screwed. And they believe that overwhelming – the level of alienation in this country is unprecedented.
But the most important change that we have seen is the change where people say they want to have a hand in this. There has been a big jump in the number of Americans who say they have to take responsibility and get involved. And that is a great hope for us in this country that we can get change. But they are not simply interested in changing the deck chairs of the Titanic in Washington. They want them all gone. And they want a new generation of leadership, of citizens. And that is the penultimate force in American politics today.
The reason I say I would be very optimistic about November is because all independents, as opposed to being operative as sort of in between what Democrats and Republicans think, for the most part – except for very logical commonsense issues – they are overwhelmingly side – they look like Republicans in a big way. They don’t want an Obama third term, they don’t want a lot of the issues.
But if you look at the lack of fights that are going on, and then you say – gee, how could your representatives be so dumb? And the answer is they’ll never stop surprising you.
You know, they’ve done nothing on immigration, which is – the Democratic Party continues to paint itself into a corner. It’s very dangerous. Yesterday, Harry Reid stopped the Kate’s Law from being voted on in the Senate, the one that Bill O’Reilly has been pushing, about illegal aliens who kill people, [commit] crimes, and are then released – catch-and-release, and keep coming back – a position that the country once dealt with, including a majority of Hispanic voters, by the way. And they said no, they couldn’t do it, because it would cost too much. Harry Reid said something would cost too much?
But as I know, in the Rasputin, the Senate has – still is basically in control.
And I want to tell you another story about that, which goes to an issue that is important tonight, which is whether or not we will have the development of an issue – which I believe we will – in national security and foreign policy. Coming into the Iran vote, the debate and vote, there was a vote about giving the President the authority, under TPP, the trade bill, to basically write his own trade bill and send it to Congress, which they did yesterday. That was turned down. He was undercut by his own party to the point that he was beaten.
Now we have a Barack Obama who, for the first time, is on his rear end – I have to be careful of my language, because of my grandchildren – so you can fill in the blanks of what I’m really thinking. And they defeated him overwhelmingly. And John Boehner and Mitch McConnell – I assume at the urging of the Chamber of Commerce and others like that – bailed Obama out on that. In fact, Boehner was threatening Republican members. I’m sure Louie Gohmert will talk about this today. Threatening, if they didn’t vote for TPP. A lot of conservatives said, Republicans said – we’re not going to give this lawless President more unfettered authority, because he has shown that he is a lawless, irresponsible President. Which was a great position.
You know, as Kenny Rogers would sing, you have to know how to play this game. You know, when to fold them and when to hold them. And to have beaten Obama and knocked him down substantially several weeks before the vote on the most critical issue of our lifetime, of the lifetime of my grandchildren – who will face the consequences of a nuclear Iran and the prospects of nuclear war – they saved his butt. And guess what? He didn’t even bother to say thank you. Right? He just took it as a given. And if he had been smashed on that, he would’ve been undermined coming into – you can see the strategic politics.
But you have a leadership in Congress – these people are dumber and stupider than any leadership I have ever seen. And one half of it’s gone –
— but the other half is just in full flight. And what did they do when we got to Iran – this debate? And this is one of the things that’s really disturbing – for those, like many in this room, who are friends of Israel, and also of our position in the Middle East, the selling out of Israel in that deal. Forty-two Democrats and two independents – including the biggest fraud in American politics, that independent from Maine, who promised to be independent, has been nothing but a lapdog for Harry Reid – they voted not only to support the treaty; they voted not to let the American people have a chance to vote, have a vote on that issue, a formal vote.
And of course, McConnell was up there waving the surrender flag with Corker. Instead of a treaty, which it should’ve been – if that’s what it is – they passed it as an agreement. And everyone now seems, except for Senator Kirk and a few others, seems to have forgotten – while the Iranians are going crazy, testing ballistic missiles, pouring troops into Iran, and saying – if you challenge us kidnapping Americans, doing major breakage in cybersecurity and all of that – and there’s no reaction, saying let’s go back and revisit, let’s go back and put on sanctions – except for Kirk. No, it’s just like watching 1938 Britain, in what it’s doing.
But that issue is a game changer. Because from the polls that John McLaughlin and I were doing for Secure America Now, it was overwhelmingly opposed by the American people, including, in some cases, majorities of Democrats. And I have never seen so many people, including more than a third of Democrats, who said they would never vote for someone who voted for that treaty. Why? Because I don’t trust the Iranians, and they know what they will do when they get nuclear weapons, and that they will cheat and lie.
And by the way, Obama had the temerity, of course, to have the chief negotiator be the same woman, Wendy Sherman, who negotiated that great deal with the North Koreans that worked out so well. There’s no level to the support the political class will give to incompetents by relationships. That is a major issue that I believe we can develop, if there’s a willingness and a heart to build the narrative that needs to be built for 2016.
Another issue is religious freedom. You saw the vote in Houston over the question of the ordinance, the one that they were telling ministers they needed to turn in their sermons to be checked about? Right? In a city that is 76 percent Hispanic and black, by 61-39, people said no to it. And now we hear what a hateful city and whatever. So I think someone should go and [review] all the blacks and Hispanics who voted against it and ask them why they are so hateful and so forth.
The same day that happened, the education department announced that the school in – I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it – the school in Illinois, which had provided for a transgender student a special place in the locker room, in private. The Obama Administration said that’s not good enough. They have to be able to – even though there’s anatomical differences between the people in that girls’ locker room – they have to take showers and be openly able to do it. The privacy of the rest of the students or their parents don’t matter. And they’ve now announced this is for all schools.
But I want to tell you, I’ve done some research a little bit, again, inspired by Lee and some others. And we had found the most amazing results – the American people don’t want a cultural war. But as I wrote in the analysis, God help the one who starts it. Because the American people think there’s a commonsense solution.
But they will not see – there’s no reason to believe that the people who believe in religious freedom are on the losing side. They’re overwhelmingly popular. Their positions are overwhelmingly popular. And I believe that this could be in 2016. As Lee Hanley said to me, this could be the issue that was like gay marriage in ‘04, in turning out people who would not normally vote because of this thing. And it can be done in a way that is not about being crazy; it is about common sense. Which is the real ideology of American people.
And that is – but we saw that result. We saw what’s happening with Obamacare in Kentucky. And I know Heather Higgins is here, and she’s going to be speaking on that, the work that she’s done. She’s been indefatigable as one of the people fighting Obamacare, which has won Republicans two elections. They abandoned it in 2010, because they had an awkward nominee, even though they’d been handed a gift by the Supreme Court in terms of the mandate, which they refused to use. And they still keep – actually, a lot of your people secretly support Obamacare. And that’s why nothing ever happens. Yet the voters do not like it, have not swallowed it. As I said the other night, the American people are not going to have this shoved down their throats.
And yet, the lack of a comprehensive political and policy plan to replace that is still absent. But the moral will to fight on these things do not exist, and that is the problem.
The election here, as I pointed – started my discussion, is about huge issues. And what we have now, we don’t know where we’re headed. We have a woman who is viewed as – and my party basically has [no bench], and they’ve decided they’re going to go off the cliff with Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation and whatever, on the issue of a person who 63 percent of the people say is dishonest and untrustworthy, who they also say doesn’t care about people like them. And they believe that [she] represent[s] the past, not the future. Some of those same numbers are very close to Donald Trump’s, which gets you wondering about this campaign.
But the greatest number of people, when given the option – huge numbers, as much as a fifth of the American people – are saying they will not vote for either of these. They don’t want this choice. And we tested Smith on a commonsense, center-right platform, as we had done two years earlier. We found that Smith was even – this make-believe candidate was even stronger, because that candidate could defeat – at that time, in the summer, Bush and Clinton, with 60 percent of the vote, the same that they got with Rubio and Clinton. And that stretches across.
Because I’m telling you, this country is not about an ideological battle. Many of you in here are ideology first. They’re about the country first. And what they see going on – and they’re about common sense. And the majorities that I talk about in the 80s or 90s percentile stretch, from Occupy Wall Street types to the most fervent of Tea Party people.
There is a real majority in this country, a giant majority, for a change that takes on Washington, that replaces a lot of these people, and does two things, in my opinion – that rectifies the situation that has happened where the political class has decided they are going to manage the decline of America. If it’s not conscious, it’s a subconscious belief. And a vast majority of American people are not willing to go into that darkness of an America that’s in decline, and who want a resurgence in this country – and one is possible.
So which of these plays out? We may have a major independent candidate, even though we haven’t heard yet. Because the opening is there, the vacuum is there. The question is the [first] has been handed to Republicans. And I don’t believe this fight between insiders and outsiders goes away. After the debate, the mainstream media was so excited to announce that this was going to be a race between, ultimately, Rubio and Ted Cruz, who had both done extremely well in the debate. That may or may not happen.
But the willingness – they were willing to dismiss the majority of Republicans who supported the two outsiders – Donald Trump, who has touched some of the cords I’ve talked about, not in a rational, logical way, but just stepping on them – has done – and Dr. Carson, who frankly I can’t figure out – I thought people thought he was Ben Casey originally, from TV.
And I can’t explain that. He’s the most popular person in the country. And frankly, I think it’s the most [astounding] phenomenon I’ve seen. He’s been rising in the polls while he’s not campaigning. He’s out selling his book. He’s in Iowa twice. And he’s ahead there. Something is going on. And I don’t believe that can be dismissed, as the political class would like to do.
So we have a new paragon now in American politics, challenging an old paradigm. And that is the very measure of chaos and change in America. The Republicans (inaudible) are doing – look at the people who are already out and hanging out, and whatever. And I thought in that – you know, none of them have quite gotten what I would call an extent which is there, for anyone, which is an entire narrative that takes advantage and moves the country, and gathers them into a movement.
And I will tell you, watching the behavior – you know, when I said in 2011, when I was so ticked off, it was because I was convinced all of these Republican groups and consultants who were all in some kind of – what I would later, the next year at CPAC, describe as a consultant lobbyist conspiracy under the RICO Act, where they steal all the money and deliver nothing? And would take all your money, and keep asking for it?
The latest one being – we now have a group – going to stop Hillary Clinton. And they’re going to do the same thing. They made their first ad on Hillary Clinton, who really needs to be – who do you want to move on Hillary Clinton? You want to move soft Democrats, the 25 to 30 percent of the Democratic Party, like me, who feel abandoned; and independents who lean Democratic.
They made a dark – one of these dark, crazy political spots that would drive Democrats to supporting Hillary Clinton. They’re so offensive. Because they’re appealing to their own base. In 2011, because so many donors hated Obama – so many people, we just have to kill him – they ran stuff that only helped Obama. Spent millions and millions, with no effect.
And there’s the Senate at stake, and there’s so many other things. But I’m hoping that somebody this year will show some sense. If this process goes to the convention, which the great guru Karl Rove wrote in The Wall Street Journal yesterday is a possibility with this many candidates – and I believe is a possibility – and the Democrats have no challenge, they are going to be killing that [party].
But instead of saying how do we counter that, what are the narratives we build up on the issues we’re talking about that could change the country, we are going to have more of the same, where egomaniac big donors hire the most corrupt people to make the most corrupt communications they possibly can, rather than do what Charlie Kirk is doing on the campuses with young people, and what others are doing on trying to build a new politics. And somebody’s got to put a stop to it. I can’t, because they don’t like me. Because I tell them the truth, and that we must not have.
So in any event, I think we’re at this major, major turning point. And I want to tell you we don’t know the outcome yet. But I’m hopeful that we will see a breakthrough this year politically. The America there to be is a country in play, as Peggy Noonan put it. And it is a chance to refashion the politics and the moral climate of this country, which Bill was talking to – all of these things – and to change for the better, and to bring new people to politics. And I am hopeful that we will see that.
One last comment I want to make on this, as my time expires, that I was so frustrated by and have been so frustrated by – is a failure to raise some of the issues. I want to give you an example, Planned Parenthood. [I] think everyone in this room is shocked and horrified by what we have seen in those tapes. Now, nothing is moving on it. They want to defund the whole government over that issue, which was again putting the cart before the horse. Problem is the American people, many of whom – including Republicans, who support Planned Parenthood or want them involved, because they have over the years used their services – particularly women.
But you know what? Planned Parenthood is not a health organization; it’s a political – it’s a political operation, which last year supported 100 candidates for the House – 99 were Democrats, and one was a Republican – which raises millions and millions of dollars and gives them to Democratic PACs, and running their own ads. They are a political operation, pure and simple. And the American people don’t know that. That was what, in the hearings, Jim Jordan was trying to point out.
And it points out to me how badly the Republicans use the forums they have, the worst one being Benghazi. I screamed on the air, for those of you who follow “Political Insiders,” every Sunday, 7:30 – Doug Schoen and I, and John LeBoutillier, challenging the conventional wisdom – for a year and a half, we were screaming for Boehner to have the committee, and to have a special committee for what reason? Because special committees, like in Watergate, with Sam Dash, and our dearly departed minority counsel of that hearing, Fred Thomson – and in the Iran hearings, Art Liman and whatever – they hire majority and minority counsels who drive the questioning. Not these Congress people, who are looking for two minutes of publicity.
And what I could not believe is you start a hearing, and you do not take your biggest thing, which they had – they had her nailed for lying – all they had to do was put up on one of those screens that they wouldn’t use, but the Democrats would, a copy of her text to her daughter the night of – saying that al-Qaeda had killed – it was an al-Qaeda affiliate that killed these people; the transcript of her conversation with the president of Egypt, where she said it was a terrorist attack; and then that same day, the video, where she stepped out and said it was about the video, where she got up in a press conference.
Why didn’t they start with that? Because they are incompetent in being able to commit – I say that with such affection for Trey Gowdy, who I thought would do better.
But it is an example of – you know what? The one thing the Democrats are counting on is Republicans will be as stupid as they have been in the past, and unable to learn how to fight. If you want to move Hillary’s voters, you better learn how to talk to Democrats and independents in a way they understand. Because as I said, there is a vast majority in this country, including Democrats, for change. And that is the opening that can revolutionize American politics and perhaps help save our country.