The panel discussion below recently took place at David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend in West Palm Beach, Florida (Nov. 17-20, 2011). The transcript follows.
Moderator: –2008. A lesson that was forcibly retaught to me by John McCain in this state in 2008. The Republican Party is the party of primogeniture. We always nominate the person who’s run before if someone has run before. There have been only two genuinely open GOP primaries in the last century, the most recent of which was in 2000. Mitt Romney will probably be the 2012 standard bearer because he’s genetically engineered for the crisis of the moment, and because he enjoys the priceless advantage of having run for the presidency in the last election cycle. The other GOP candidates each have strengths and some excellent ideas, but given the truncated nature of the early primary schedule and the sheer time and expense of building a credible campaign organization in a Republican primary as opposed to a Democratic primary, Pat, it’s almost impossible to generate sufficient name ID and presence in a first time presidential campaign to breakout ahead of someone who has already run and been tested. Even though it would be interested to see Newt Gingrich introduced at his first State Dinner, the President and the Third Lady, it’s not going to happen.
The second point of esoterica–Senator Marco Rubio will not be the GOP Vice Presidential Nominee in 2012. This is not because Senator Rubio isn’t qualified or because he isn’t likely to be asked. It’s because those around Senator Rubio, and I suspect even Marco himself, have figured out that Marco Rubio could one day be President and accepting a VP nomination dooms anyone’s presidential prospects. There are almost insurmountable barriers placed in the path of Vice Presidents seeking to rise to the top job. Martin Van Buren did it in 1836 and by essentially promising a third term of the most popular president in the 20th century since FDR, George H. W. Bush did it in 1988. Truman was President when he ran against Dewey, and the implosion of Lyndon Johnson made Nixon’s second bite at the apple impossible to recreate. This record is hardly encouraging. The Presidential court–the electoral corpses of Nixon in ‘60, Humphrey in ‘68, Mondale in ‘84, Quayle in ‘88, and Gore in 2000 are remarkable speed bumps in those–for those plotting the fast track to the Oval Office from Observatory Hill. And if the 2012 GOP nominee loses, God forbid, to President Obama, the taint of that loss by association, coupled with the historical damnation of being prominently introduced to the nation as the back-up guy is almost certainly fatal to future presidential ambitions.
Is this inevitable? Of course not. Predestiny is a crutch for the powerless. But the point is this. When you hear the names of potential VP nominees within the Republican Party next summer, lost in the endless political calculations in the moment, demographic or ideological voting blocks, geographic desirability, the ability to deliver even a single state is the harsh reality that Vice Presidents and Vice Presidential nominees can secure presidential nominations but they cannot be elected President–a lesson that penetrated even Sarah Palin’s small historical knowledge base. If you are going to accept the VP spot, be aware of what you’re giving up. Lesson to the wise.
On to the panel. Our first speaker is Bill McGurn. Bill was the chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush. He is now a Vice President of the News Corporation, parent company of both Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. Bill writes speeches for Rupert Murdoch, so he’s written for the most powerful man in the world, and President Bush. A graduate of both Notre Dame and Boston University, Bill was the D.C. bureau chief for National Review in the 1990s, and now pens a brilliant weekly column in the Wall Street Journal. In fact, his recent harangue on Mayor Bloomberg’s apparent abandonment of the broken windows theory of policing by tolerating the Zucotti Park campers in Obamaville may have shamed the mayor into finally cleaning house last week. Playwright Tom [Stofford] wrote that words are powerful things. If you get them right, you can change the world. Ladies and gentlemen, a man who has changed the world by using all the right words, Bill McGurn.
William McGurn: Thank you, Paul. I think you’ve over-introduced, in a way. There’s a famous British saying from the 1920s and 1930s, when the Rupert Murdoch of his time, a press baron was asked about his newspapermen. And someone said, well, I guess they’re smart guys. And he said, no, they don’t have to be smart. All they need is shorthand and certain low, rat-like cunning. Today, I’m here to tell you we no longer need shorthand. So when I asked Paul what we were supposed to speak about, he said about five minutes. So I’ll try to keep to that. I was the less-is-more speechwriter. The Golden Rule was sentence the Gettysburg Address was 271 words. I’m not going to match them in eloquence, but I’ll try to match them in brevity.
The topic was the 2012 elections, the elections of our lifetime. I’m not going to handicap races or talk about polls. You have some great political consultants here who know far more than I do on that. Also, I don’t think we have to contest the issue that this is the most important election of our lifetime. I think people are here generally because that’s the proposition that they assent to. So I don’t think we have to debate that.
What I’d like to talk about a little bit is just one aspect of how I see that playing out. I think what we have a choice, very broadly speaking, in 2012 for America, are two models of the future for our country. One is the European model, which is a lot of government intervention, a lot of dependency upon the state for different programs, kind of a top down approach, and also a declining military presence in the world. I mean, if Britain keeps going the way it’s going, it’s going to have fewer ships than Australia pretty soon.
The other is the Asian model. Now I lived in Europe for four years, and I lived in Asia for nine or ten years. And it’s such a striking difference today. It’s opportunity, it’s people increasingly based on the market. You know, when Tom Friedman goes to China, he comes back and tells us, gee this authoritarian model really works well. Look what China is building. Well, news flash–China has had an authoritarian model for most of its history. What’s changed? They’re moving to the market. It’s not authoritarianism that’s building this infrastructure and so forth, it’s the market. And it’s very alive. People–when I lived in Europe, you have a sense of people trying to hang on to what they have and very afraid people aren’t mobile. When I lived in Hong Kong, it’s the most dynamic place in the world. People sense opportunity out there. And also, a lot of people, you know, even in Hong Kong, were not that well off. But it seems to me there were two things that they valued. One was the opportunity, which was palpable, because you could see people that arrived owning nothing and became millionaires. The other is that even for people that arrived and are not necessarily millionaires–they might be a bus driver or sanitation worker–but they saw that their kids would have upward mobility.
I think that’s the same kind of thing at stake here. Which kind of model do we go to? The dynamic model–all these–the irony is that all these people that point to China and India, their prescriptions are always to make us more like Europe, you know, with government intervention and so forth. So those are the two broad models we have, and I think that Pat and John are going to talk a little bit about the voters that we need to attract, but I think it comes down to this. We all have differences here on which conservative candidate best represents us, but we’re–you know, we’re a highly polarized country now. Most of the Reagan Democrats have become Republicans, and really the election, I think, hinges on attracting independents and maybe a few disaffected Democrats that we could reach with our message. So it’s not so much about which candidate Republicans will settle on. I also hear people saying, I’ll never vote for Mitt Romney, I’ll never vote for Newt Gingrich. You know, I heard that before and I think we’ll all vote for whoever the nominee is when they’re running against Barack Obama.
So one of the questions that I have in this model is, there’s an assumption that the best candidate is kind of the guy that waters down his things, that is kind of in the middle ground. And one of the issues I have with Governor Romney is on his tax plans or something, he seems to accept some of the Obama parameters about the rich and so forth. And I think the general principle is indeed that we have to reach out with language that we’re not maybe used to and so forth to independents and Democrats. But I’m not sure that means actually watering down the principles. I think it means showing the relevance to their lives. To me, the person that’s doing this the most in Washington today is Paul Ryan, who talks about opportunity and upward mobility. And I think that’s the message we have to take to independents. And to me, if the challenge is Governor Romney–he’s in the lead, he would be the most likely candidate–the real question, I think, in this for him is, is he going to be seen as a rich guy, or is he going to be seen as a successful guy?
If he can portray himself as a successful guy, and a guy who can help you become successful, not necessarily as rich as he is, but have jobs, I think he’ll do a lot better. The fear is that we let ourselves be characterized as just the party of the rich.
Now we see this debate going on. The debate’s not new at the national level. To me, what I find fascinating is at the state level we have this working out all over the place. I mean, we have the tea parties, which is great. And I lived in the People’s Republic of New Jersey, so believe me, you know, I know what bad government is like. And Governor Christie has done a wonderful job in trimming back the budget and so forth, and making the argument. He has not yet, however, really addressed the structural problem. He’s addressed the balance sheet and made some cuts. But one reason I’d like to keep him in New Jersey is to start working on the structure.
We also have California. And one of the problems, I think, with our side, we’re always predicting Armageddon or it’ll become Greece. People have been predicting California is going to implode for years, and you kind of tune it out. It’s like when you’re told you have cancer and you only have five more years to live, and it’s ten years later. You still have cancer, but I think sometimes that we exaggerate, you know, how bad the things are and people tune out and numbers like trillions, –they don’t get it. Where I think it’s really playing out now–one of the things I think the national press is not paying sufficient attention to is the Midwest. If you look at the Midwest, the Rust Belt, you know once the real productive center of our country, you see the politics being raw. Then we tend to treat them very separately and individually.
I mean, it’s started in Indiana with Mitch Daniels, where he really has turned that state around. He says that because there’s a national problem, slow recovery, it’s kind of like getting the new dress for the prom and then the prom’s called off. But I think few would doubt that Indiana is in much better shape today than it was before, and looks at it with hope.
Up further to the north, you have Wisconsin, where Scott Walker has passed some remarkable reforms. And he’s withstood a lot of the pressure. You know, they’ve thrown everything at him. It looks like even the recall thing might be petering out a little bit. It’s a tremendous experiment. In Ohio you have John Kasich doing similar things. He had a setback, but I don’t think that story’s over, because really what happened is the voters–the voters chose layoffs and cutbacks over this reform. That’s what they’re going to find out. So there’s a lot of education. And in Michigan, you kind of have the midway thing. I think Michigan’s one of the worst cases. If I were a Republican running in any state, I’d say we can either be Indiana, or we can be Kentucky, or we can be Michigan. I mean, if you go to Michigan today, and you look in the–outside the cities–well look in the cities. Newsweek had a list of 10 dying cities and three of them were in Michigan. Detroit’s down to the population of 1909. And the whole state, which used to be, I think the sixth most important state in the country, a driver of our economy with its productivity, is now down in the 40s, I think–38th right now, 38th ranked. And slipping.
So all these states have looked to Republicans for solutions. What’s the one outlier? Illinois. I mean, Illinois in the last election–Governor Quinn ran on passing a tax–raise taxes 67%. This is business as usual. He was elected with the votes of Chicago. He won only four counties of 102 counties in that state. He won the important counties, but he won only four of them there. Passed his tax, what’s now happening? Sears is threatening to leave. The Chicago Merc is threatening to leave. All sorts of things are threatening to leave. So what are they doing? Crony capitalism. Let’s give tax breaks to these guys. But that’s an experiment too. You know, in some ways, Illinois is kind of the perfect bad example.
So I think in all these ways, what we see is a microcosm of what we’re going to see at the national level. And I think that the answer for Republicans, the ones who will succeed are the ones that not just have the conservative message, but the ones that can show to the people that it relates to their lives, that their opportunity is tethered to that message.
And I don’t think that means again watering down the message. I think it means relating it to people in language they can understand. Maybe not the language, you know, I like [Hiack] and Friedman and so forth. If I was an independent sitting in Michigan, I might want to hear something else. Thank you.
Moderator: I’m proud to report that our next speaker spells his last name correctly. Erick Erickson is one of those rare pundits whose byline has become interchangeable with his name. Red State Erickson was one of the first triumphs of the blogosphere’s ability to ferret out real talent, where clear thinking and right ideas, like the old Playtex commercials like to say, lift and separate those opinions that matter from those opinions that don’t. Mark Steyn being another fine example. He’s not only a radio talk show host, but is also a contributor to CNN’s John King, and like Kuato in the movie Total Recall, he’s the guy that lives inside John King’s door frame chest and gives him all the smartest things to say. The bottom line, when Red State speaks, conservatives listen. Ladies and gentlemen, Erick Erickson.
Erick Erickson: I don’t think I’ve quite ever had an introduction like that before. Wow. Although I’ve got to say, just full disclosure, it pains me to be onstage with an Erickson who’s supporting Romney. Just full disclosure, I’m–I don’t really have a dog in the fight other than the guy who is not Mitt Romney. That’s my guy.
Is this the most important election in our lifetime? I would actually argue that 2010 was the most important election in our lifetime. And the reason being is because this is the first time–we’re going through redistricting. This is the first time since passage of the Voting Rights Act that the Democrats control the Department of Justice during redistricting. So it’s very important in 2010 to grow as many Republican state legislatures and governors’ mansions as possible, to get us to this year, where they’re willing to actually fight the Eric Holder Department of Justice to draw congressional lines that may help Republicans. But this election in itself, yes, I think it’s a very important election, given what we’re facing.
If you look at 2008, I think the Obama administration over-read its mandate in 2008. In 2008, people were tired of who I repeatedly on the radio, having amalgamated all of the Democratic complaints against George Bush and Dick Cheney, that they were rejecting what the Democrats would call the George [Chibbing] McBush Hitler Halliburton Era. And they weren’t actually embracing this newfound love of socialism.
The Democrats, nonetheless, thought hey, we got it, we’ll use it. And they used it. And now the light’s coming on with the American public, and they’re kind of shocked that the Democrats went as far as they did. You know, I thought it was very interesting, a couple of weeks ago the Center for American Progress, the so-called think tank where 80% of their budget is actually PR, not actually thinking, tried to explain how 60% of the public actually like the individual mandate now, which is a poll number that Gallup–even the Democratic-leaning public policy poll and where they got their number from supposedly–all of them kind of disagree that most Americans don’t like the individual mandate, which is why I have a hard time believing the Republicans will nominate the guy who created it. But–on another issue.
So we’re going into an election where we will be facing the repeal of Obamacare, changing the tax structure, and then there’s this odd thing that I think the Republicans are dropping the ball on. And this goes directly to why I have a hard time with the guy who can’t get above 25% in Republican polling right now, and that is Occupy Wall Street is probably the greatest recruitment tool for the conservative movement to ever exist.
See, this is what I think the Republicans are missing this year. Conservatives hate Wall Street as much as liberals hate Wall Street. And what the liberals seem to be ignoring is that Wall Street financial firms have gotten richer in the past three years than in all eight years of George W. Bush combined. And likewise, they’ve given more money to Barack Obama than all of the Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney, combined. Barack Obama has gotten more money from Bain Capital than Mitt Romney, who worked at Bain Capital. That should tell you something about Wall Street. Yet the liberals would have you believe it’s the Koch brothers’ fault. I swear to you, Occupy Wall Street is the greatest recruitment tool for the conservative movement. When they try to shut down Black Friday, every soccer mom in America will be beating the hell out of those protesters, trying to get into Sears & Roebuck, and then going to change their registration to Republican.
So you’ve got this setup where the Republicans appear to be nominating a guy–and forget who the guy is–they seem to be willing to nominate a guy–and I’m not talking about Mitt Romney, I’m talking about all of the above–who they’re not resonating on a Reagan conservative populist message, a–if you will–Zell Miller from Georgia–this intrinsically conservative but populist message. Where the Republicans seem to have bought into the fact that we’re the party of Wall Street, when they’re not the party of Wall Street. They should be the party of the entrepreneur. They should be the party of the guy who you want to go out and build something yourself, go do it. Look at the legislation the Democrats and the Republicans are both supporting, the bipartisan support for example, for patent reform in Washington D.C., which is a very esoteric topic.
You’ll have to excuse me, but I’ve got an iPhone right here. There’s a good example of this. Individuals have created profitable companies, building software just for this device. But there’s this weird little patent that someone didn’t invent, they just bought from someone who bought it from someone else, who bought it from someone else who had invented it, that if I push a little “Accept” button on this iPhone–everybody knows where the Accept button is. It pops up and do you want to buy this application? You click Accept. Apparently someone years ago wrote a patent. They didn’t invent it. They just came up with the idea and sent it to the Patent Office, without ever actually developing it. But they got a patent. They sold it to someone who sold it to someone else who sold it to someone else, who is now suing every iPhone developer for daring to include a button that has the word Accept on a button. And Congress says that’s a good thing. Well, you know, up until 1990, you couldn’t patent software because it’s pretty easy to say, hey, let’s put a little button and write the word Accept on it. My favorite patent in America is literally some guy filed and got a patent for the idea of pointing a laser, the little red dot at the wall, and moving it around to catch the attention of a dog or cat. It was a patent to entertain animals. They actually got a patent to do that. There’s something flawed in our country when an entrepreneur can’t make a product without paying somebody a bunch of money because he just had a common sense idea. But the Democrats and Republicans got together with all the big corporations in America and said, hey, that’s a great idea. Let’s do that.
The problem is that the Republican party, and I realize this is very esoteric, but the problem relates to this. The Republicans have bought into what the Democrats have been saying the Republicans are. The Democrats have been saying the Republicans are the party of Big Business. The party of Big Pharma, the party of Big Oil, what have you. Until the Republicans get back to being the party of the small businessmen that everybody likes, the party of the entrepreneur, and the party, frankly, of the people who create jobs–instead of talking about giving tax cuts to the rich, start talking about helping people create jobs. I think they profoundly miss the message as we head into 2012, and we’ve got to elect a candidate who can relate to the entrepreneur, who can relate to the small businessmen, who can relate to the people who are going to be very angry when they try to walk into Target on next Friday and some damn dirty hippie is blocking the door because they smelled all week up in New York City and don’t know how to use a shower.
A funny story before I leave. In Atlanta, the Occupy Atlanta movement–the rich Emoroids, I call them–kids who go to Emory–they decided to join the Occupy Atlanta movement, and when no one was bringing them food because someone apparently stole all the money, who was in charge of collecting the money to buy the food, they decided to take over the local homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta. So the homeless people were booted out so the Emoroids could get the free food. According to the Atlanta Journal last week, there’s a problem–the homeless shelter and now a lot of the Occupy Atlanta kids are testing positive for drug-resistant tuberculosis. Maybe they should think better of taking over homeless shelters.
Let me leave you with this. I have a deep fear, because I am a pessimist at heart–why pray when I can worry–that the Republican Party is going to throw away 2012. I have a deep fear in this. Now let me tell you why. I have a deep fear in this because they’re not investing resources in the tea party movement that swept them into power in 2010. They seem–the Republicans I encounter on a regular basis in Washington seem to be embarrassed by the people who brought them to the dance. And unless they get over that and realize that, you know, these people are onto something–more Americans seem to like the tea party movement right now than these hippies on Wall Street who are blocking all the doors. I think they profoundly misjudged the mood of the American people. They went to Washington and have been apologizing for too long on what actually got them there. They need to actually pick a fight on repealing Obamacare. They need to pick a fight with the Administration on the budget. And they need to actually, believe it or not, pick a fight on cutting spending. If they don’t, I think we’re going to lose it.
Moderator: John McLaughlin has been a pollster and strategic political consultant for thirty years. Like Governor Chris Christie, he’s a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen. But unlike Governor Christie, he isn’t huge. His track record is simply remarkable. Former clients range from presidential candidate Steve Forbes to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. But unlike Arnold, after two terms and one divorce, John will be back. John has successfully advised 22 current or former U.S. Senators and 20 current members of Congress. He has the gift of unerringly predicting not merely election outcomes, but moods of the electorate before they even know what mood they’re in. There is simply no better pollster alive in America today than John McLaughlin. I would and have bet my political life on him at various times over the years, and my presence here is proof that unlike Kim Kardashian’s wedding vows, John is for real. Ladies and gentlemen, John McLaughlin.
John McLaughlin: For those of you who thought it was the John McLaughlin from TV, the John McLaughlin Group, I saw him on the plane last night. TV makes you look older, but not that much older. I saw him on the plane last night, and he had my seat in first class. And he was flying down here –he lives down here. But he used to call me for predictions all the time, so that’s why he was right. But it’s an honor to be here with Bill and Erick, and thank you Paul, and my colleague Pat Caddell. I’m going to run through some poll numbers that Pat and I–we work for ASecureAmericaNow.org, and these are poll numbers that we’ve done in August, and there’s some recent numbers, so as I go through them, Pat may comment, because that way we’re bipartisan, so we can keep going through this. But a lot of these numbers are very fresh and very real.
This is, by the way, the number on the right there, is as of two days ago–the generic vote for Congress. And this is why Pat–I often agree with Pat when he talks about the Republican Party being the stupid party. Unfortunately, we are. You will see there that a lot of the surveys going back to January of ‘09, when after Barack Obama, everybody thought he was going to be a moderate and a good President, the Democrats were up on us by 11 points. And then Barack Obama decided to screw up and you had a stimulus, you had health care, you had the budget, etc. The Republicans, as Erick has already noticed–we got a really big win where we kind of peaked in September of 2010, 51-37. Then we actually won 52-45. And then the Republicans went back to being the Republicans.
And you can see, there’s a little bump there in May of this year, where we allowed the Democrats to run a campaign saying we were going to cut Medicare. Now as of September, I was involved in a couple of campaigns–Bob Turner’s, and there was a special election in Nevada when they said you want to cut Medicare, we said you already did with Obamacare. And we kind of fought back. But you can see, one in four voters are still undecided. So we could, as Erick mentioned, we could definitely blow this election. What’s bad about it, what’s in our favor, is of the one in four voters, two and three of them think they’re worse off than when Obama was President. They disapprove of the job the President’s doing. We should be able to win them. But we may not.
And this is the scary number. You will notice the blue line on the right there. These are the President’s job ratings. You could go back to May of ‘09 where he was 2 to 1 positive, and then we figured out what he wanted to do, and he went almost 2 to 1 negative in that September of 2010, and he stayed pretty negative. But recently, you see what happens? He’s the only one with a jobs program. It may be a bad jobs program. But people are saying that the Republicans, what do they have? And we’ve got a supercommittee. So you can see the President’s definitely making a comeback, and he is definitely not out of it. But right now he’s upside down. There’s as 51 disapprove with a 47 approval on his job approval rating. It probably went up this week because he did go to Australia, right? Wait until he gets back in the country.
And this is a number that Pat and I have cautioned people about. You will see this is do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing regarding America’s defense and security. Although he’s a net negative, very much so on the economy, when it comes to security, he’s a net positive. He was a net negative in September of 2010, you could see 43 to 51, but he’s 49-45 right now.
How important an issue is national security when deciding your vote for President? 96% saying important. This was an August survey that Pat and I did. Two thirds, 67%, are saying very important right now. So it’s not just the economy.
This is one of my favorite questions. Who was the greatest threat to the United States? And these are verbatims off the top of people’s minds. If the Republicans were doing a good job, Barack Obama would be number one. But right now it’s the economy at 17%. Barack Obama is the greatest threat, 12%. That’s an amazing observation. He’s ahead of al-Qaeda, at 8%. (is only Which country is the greatest threat to the United States? These voters get it. They see threats. And Pat and I have seen in the surveys that we’ve done, where you’re seeing the greatest number of external threats since the Cold War. You know, we had a peace dividend in the 90s. You had 9⁄11. We have real enemies out there. Iran, 63% when you combine first and second choice. China, 50. So much for our trading partner. And North Korea, 47%. They’d be higher if they could shoot a missile accurately by.
This is an interesting question where the Washington Post–I don’t know how many of you there read the Washington Post. Maybe you do. You aren’t normal people. You’re sitting here on a Saturday morning listening to us. But they asked the question–they had a story yesterday that the United States is no longer an exceptional country, because when they asked the question on a Pew Research poll, while Americans aren’t perfect, our culture is superior. And it’s down to 49% agree. Well, they didn’t ask it right. And I would be, what do you mean, we’re not perfect, anyway. But this is the way Pat and I had figured we’d ask a question like that. President Ronald Reagan referred to the United States as a shining example of what is right in the world. Do you believe that the United States is an exceptional force for good in the world? 71% said yes, of all voters. So when you hear them talking about, like the Washington Post article actually said we’re not exceptional anymore. They’re really trying to do Obama’s work for them, dumb us down. But the reality of this is 7 out of 10 Americans actually believe this.
Do you think Obama’s policies towards Iran will succeed in convincing them to abandon developing nuclear weapons? 78% no. This is a scary number when you think about, a very scary number. But the people are way ahead. The voters in America are way ahead. And if I have anything to do with it, you know, you’ll hear from Congressman Bob Turner, who I’ve worked for, and you’ll hear from other members of Congress. If I have anything to do with it, I’m working for people that want to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
If Iran obtains nuclear weapons, do you believe Iran would use them to attack United States military bases and ships in the Persian Gulf or the Middle East? 70% say yes. If Iran obtains nuclear weapons, do you believe Iran would arm terrorists who would use these weapons to attack the United States? 80% said yes. Where I live, in New York, it’s probably 100%. But 4 out of 5 Americans think if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, they are going to give it to terrorists and use it against us. That is a big number. When you work for elected officials, you sit there and you tell them about math, 80% is a big number.
If sanctions against Iran do not work, would you approve or disapprove of using the military to attack and destroy facilities in Iran which are necessary to produce a nuclear weapon? Pat and I were getting over 50%. As of August, it was 64%. What’s amazing about this is most Americans want out of Iraq, want out of Afghanistan. But this question, when you tell them that if the sanctions do not work, which they already believe are not going to work, would you use the military to destroy facilities in Iran which are necessary to produce a nuclear weapon–64% of all Americans are saying yes. They get it. Our leaders may not. Iran can target embassies in Washington and want to assassinate ambassadors, and we’re going to let them get a nuclear weapon.
Pat Caddell: And what Ann Coulter said yesterday about what Obama’s strategy will be with–he’ll deal with Iran if he needs it for re-election, and if you knew Tom [Donnell], his national security adviser, I can guarantee you there’s nothing they won’t do. But this is really important, because Republicans in Congress in the stupid party, as opposed to the corrupt party, though it’s hard to tell them apart sometimes–they will not take this issue on. This President has totally failed. The most amazing thing about those numbers are that women are higher than men. Even though they are twelve points more Democratic in our poll, 10 points more pro-Obama, they actually outnumber men, and a higher percentage saying we should take action. It’s what we saw, and we’ll see some more in the mosque thing. The elements that aim at the very constituency of the Democratic Party, and yes the economy will be biggest issue. But this maybe could be the most decisive. And yet Republicans refuse to engage in foreign policy because they keep saying Obama’s going to do well on it. This is the example that it’s not.
John McLaughlin: Regarding China, do you think that America can rely on China as a strong economic partner who wants the United States to be safe and secure, or do you think China is actively trying to undermine the United States to advance its own economic and national interests? And these–it’s 71% undermine, none of them were Georgetown basketball players. This group is not the Knights of Columbus. Americans have them in focus. Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood? 10% favorable, 44 unfavorable. That is amazing. When you ask most Americans, and if I asked them–one of my favorite questions is how many people here know who the prime minister of Canada is? Oh, good. You guys are definitely not normal. But the average American doesn’t. But you look at this 44%–4 to 1 unfavorable. They are really worried about this.
Sharia law. I’ve heard your speakers last night and yesterday were talking about sharia law as a code of conduct for religious law of Islam. Do you approve or disapprove of U.S. courts applying Islamic sharia law when deciding cases in marriage in federal and state courts? 6% approve. I’ll say–I’ll share the names with David later.
76% disapprove. That is a big number.
Pat Caddell: Someone might want to tell Governor Christie about that number.
John McLaughlin: Again, here’s another big number when you look at the American public, how far ahead they are of leaders. How concerned are you about Islamic terrorism by American-born Muslims? 86% concerned, 45 very concerned. And this is one of my other clients, one of those members that Paul mentioned–Congressman Pete King. He liked the way we asked this question. Regarding the Congressional hearings into the radicalization of Muslims in the United States, they need to continue because they’re providing information which is valuable and important to stop terrorism in the United States. 63% of all voters agreed with that. Only 20% said they should stop. The reason we asked this? In Washington they were telling Pete to stop the hearings. The Republicans were telling them they were counter-productive and a waste of tax money.–63 to 20, the Americans say go ahead. Keep doing it.
Pat Caddell: There are elements, as you know, and you’ve heard here, in the Republican Party, and the last question I’ll also comment on–but, who go around saying we cannot be Islamophobic. When the country, including many liberal women, particularly, look at what’s going on and are terrified that they have insidiously made the case and told Republicans whether it’s Ground Zero mosque or Muslims or whatever–you saw the numbers on sharia–God forbid that this should be raised in a country where people are so far ahead of the politicians. And you wonder why you lose elections.
John McLaughlin: And for those who still agree or disagree, members of the U.S. media and political elites are so concerned with being politically correct, they’re downplaying and not paying enough attention to the threats by American security by Islamic terrorists–69% agree, 42 strongly agree. Only 20% disagree. So people think the media and the elites are downplaying the 7 out of 10. And Pat, we asked them if they are angry or upset when they learned how the first-year Muslim teacher in Chicago sued to be allowed to go on a pilgrimage, when the school board refused, since they would never give the time off to any other teacher, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder intervened to take up a case which will involve spending millions of dollars.
Pat Caddell: Didn’t even have guns. And by the way, they settled. They forced the school board to settle. And they have now a special standard for Muslim teachers as opposed to every other teacher. And I didn’t hear a single Republican or anyone speak out against this, and to John’s point on Holder. Was anybody alive long enough back where I come from in 1968 when Richard Nixon, every campaign stop, said my first act will be to fire Ramsay Clark? I’ve yet to hear a Republican presidential candidate say that about the most dangerous Attorney General of my lifetime. And that includes even some really crooked ones.
John McLaughlin: There it is. Romney has the wrong pollsters. You got it. He should have a Democrat.
Anyway, now I’m going to read you another story. Last year an American cartoonist named Molly Norris, from Seattle, came up with an idea to satirize radical Islamic terrorists with a draw-Mohammed contest. Molly Norris received numerous death threats from known terrorists, including the current head of al Qaeda. Although she is an American citizen, living in the United States, the FBI came to Molly Norris and told her that the threat against her was real, and that they would not protect her, and she needed to change her identity, give up her job, and go into hiding, which she did. What’s your reaction to this story? 80% were angry and upset.
Pat Caddell: And this is my favorite story of all, because I was arguing in 2010 in the Washington Senate race, which was decided by a very tiny margin, and where women in Seattle voted for the Democrat, [Heddy] Murray, who had after we had 9⁄11, said we can’t forget all the wonderful things Osama bin Laden did for humanitarian causes. Dino Rossi–his campaign consultant–his Republican establishment consultants–they had this issue that could have taken to women in that state. And I guarantee you that would have decided that election. No Republican would speak on this issue, and his campaign specifically said, we don’t feel race–that this is not the kind of issue we should be talking about. That’s why you don’t have more seats in the United States Senate, too.
Moderator: I agree with Pat. If Herman Cain is our black swan, Pat Caddell is the Democratic Party’s black sheep. But only because he speaks truth to sometimes reluctant ears. Pat is a Democrat who embraces capitalism. This puts him at odds with most of the current leaders of his party. But Pat’s also an original thinker who has applied his talents to film and television. He’s written for feature films such as Air Force One, and wrote and produced the hit television series The West Wing. But as we Republicans like to point out, the only thing that would have made The West Wing’s Democratic presidency more authentic would have been the presence of David Gergen down the hall from the Oval Office. I reserve for him my highest praise for any ideological opponent. Pat Caddell is an honest liberal. Ladies and gentlemen, Pat Caddell.
Pat Caddell: And John is invited, because we were kind of merging these things to pipe in like I did with the slides we did, because we’ve both been covering. You saw his numbers on the generic stuff. But let me just first of all say, I missed the dinner with Dick Morris last night. I didn’t realize he was speaking. I took my family out to dinner, but I guarantee you, I don’t know what he said, but I’m willing to take all bets that every one prediction he made will come out wrong. So if I had done that in 2010, actually, I’m still actually waiting on Condi Rice and Hillary Clinton to figure out which of them is going to be the best. But look, I’m still a Democrat, and Monday the White House will freak because Doug Schoen and I–who’s another friend of mine–John’s my Republican pollster friend, and Doug is my Democratic pollster friend, and we were going to have one of our columns, which is running Monday, which is basically called the Hillary moment, which argues we told you a year ago to read, because you’d tear the country up if you ran for re-election, and you didn’t listen to us, now we’re telling you to step aside and let the one person that can win. You don’t have to worry. That won’t happen. But nonetheless, it still makes the case that the only way this man can win is to tear the country apart at a time of crisis, and he was willing to do that. And that is one of the principal arguments that you can make against him.
And by the way, let me just say this. You are well on your way to next year, coming here to celebrate Obama’s victory, because your party is so stupid. It is beyond belief. My party may be corrupt. So is yours. We’re just more corrupt. And we’re sometimes stupid, but not that stupid. You saw those numbers that John just put up, showing Obama closing from August. You know why? Because there is no narrative against him. There is no set of cases or challenges to him and to the Democrats since August, since the Republicans became paralyzed in Congress, Democrats have been allowed to run rampant. The election would be decided–let me tell you this. We have a country that is absolutely ready to blow. And I just want to tell you, our discussion of politics is normal and my feeling about Mitt Romney, which is–you know, he may look good on paper, I don’t know. But the problem is, we have a moment and no one’s standing up for the moment, and that moment is this. When you have, on the question that I helped word I had suggested and I’ve done some surveys on, that says the Declaration of Independence says the government receives their authority with the consent of the people. Does the federal government today have the consent of the people? And 24 say yes and 71 say no. It is what I describe as a prove-evolutionary moment. You know, 2 to 1, for the first time in history, not only a majority–the first time I’ve ever seen this question began in the 1950s with the University of Michigan, on alienation–people like me don’t have really much say about how the government works. Even at the worst of Watergate and Vietnam in the end of the 1970s, that question was only an even question. Today it’s 65-35.
And my favorite is the question about–that goes to the point that Erick made. It said this. The banks, Wall Street, the unions, and political special interests have rigged the rules of the game and they are looting the American Treasury at the expense of every single man, woman and child in America. And very few of them are punished or gone to jail, and they are destroying the moral foundation of America. 83% of Americans from left to right agree with that. There is a revolution brewing in this country, and the political class does not understand it. And no candidate seems to be willing to speak to it. But I will tell you, it is out there and it is bubbling, and right after they screw up–the supercommittee, one of the worst ideas in the history of mankind–I think you’re going to see even more activity. But the Republicans–and this is why I have to disagree–dissent a little bit–on issues like, you know the first thing Republicans want to do is run out and announce that they would cut Medicare, and the Democrats, well, thank you, thank you so much. God, we could never have thought of that ourselves. And you know, and these things– what do they do? And Erick Erickson is one who pointed it out in his newsletter. No one else has spoken about it. I do it every time I get a chance–which is on the issue of healthcare. The issue that elected the Republican Party. But the leadership of the Republicans in Congress abandoned right after Day One when they went through the perfunctory motion of repealing Obamacare and then don’t touch it anymore. On the funding, and everything else, they have walked away from that issue. They continue to walk away from it.
And here’s the interesting thing. Those of you who watched Ohio, which was quite different from Wisconsin, by the way–I’ll make a comment on that in a second–but the difference in these is that Governor Kasich has lost 61-39 at the same time a question about not allowing Ohio to enforce a mandate passed 66 to 34. Half the union voters voted for it. We had a question Ari asked about the President that said, and this is the toughest question I think I may have ever written–our healthcare system isn’t perfect, but it’s still the best in the world. President Obama’s healthcare bill makes it just another gigantic government program that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and not improve the healthcare our families get. President Obama must be defeated so we can repeal the healthcare law before it’s too late. 59% of people agreed with that, 40% strongly. And Republicans have walked away from this issue. These presidential candidates get perfunctory–and of course, we do have the candidate of the mandates, Mitt Romney, you remember the question I asked Ann Coulter. It’s just amazing to me. Instead, they’ve bailed on that issue, they’re bailing on the spending issue. Nobody’s challenged the President in a narrative, in terms of what his jobs program is, or having a positive jobs program.
I have to tell you right now there’s a pretty good chance that despite all the economic numbers as you saw in John’s question, he will win because he will frame this as a choice and not a referendum. It’s a box, just ask the question. This is where the election should be. But whether Republicans can win with definition is unclear, and that was in Europe, government leadership sometimes faces a confidence vote by–let’s imagine for a moment, United States law, if you could cast a similar type of vote, would you give the current White House a vote of confidence or a vote of no confidence? 40% a vote of confidence, 56% no confidence.
That is the question if you could have it as a referendum. However, this failure–and right now, and I want to say something and that this is very important to me, and then I won’t say any more. I came here a year ago, and it was here at this conference that it dawned on me that there had to be a narrative against Barack Obama. And it had to be run in 2011 and early 2012–that the election would be defined long before Karl Rove and all of his people come up with all the hundreds of millions of dollars they plan to spend in the fall. This election would be defined–decided by a narrative. And it would be decided among those ten million voters, independents and soft Democrats who we used to call Reagan Democrats, some of them–even beyond that, you saw (inaudible) policy. And that there were ways to get to Obama. You had to think like these people and speak to them in their language, and from their mindset.
I can tell you because there are rumors I had a little bit to do with it in Wisconsin–that’s what happened. John, in the New York 9th, we will hear from Congressman Turner–they turned a Democratic seat that was unwinnable into a real Republican victory by appealing to those voters and speaking to them in their own language. Meanwhile, the Republican Party went up to the 26th District and elected–in a seat where if this were on the ballot named Republican, they would win and managed to lose overwhelmingly on the issue of Paul Ryan’s wonderful idea of–we just can’t wait to show people we’re going to kill Medicare, which is what they think about us to begin with.
In Ohio, among some of the groups that take all the money from their donors, they dominated the discussion. They were going to make the American people–tell the people of Ohio just how good this stuff was for them, rather than do what Scott Walker did, which is turn the tables in a much tougher state, to make the case in language and values that those Democrats and independents who had just elected Scott Walker and a Republican legislature, to woo those people back. No, no, they have to go and play ideology. It’s better–more important to feel good and make your governors feel better.
I even hear–some of you met my grandchildren last night, as have seen them before. The only reason I came back to politics, because I know this election–this isn’t just the most important election. Let me just put it–tell you flat out. There will be–the America we know will be dead if Barack Obama is re-elected.
Now I want to tell you–hold your applause, because you’re not serious about it. I am serious. I put my rear end on the line on this. I want to tell you something. This crowd–I know these people. The issue isn’t what he’s done. Can you imagine what he’s going to do when he doesn’t face re-election? When we asked Jewish voters, John and I, on a poll two and half, three to one Democratic, how concerned they were of what Obama would do to Israel, given what he’s done already, when he doesn’t have to face re-election, 67% said they were concerned. Half of Obama’s own Democratic Jewish voters believe that. The things that they are going to do, just like the New York Times on Friday the headline they had about the re-election, about the EPA regulations, and he told the head of EPA don’t worry, we’ll deal with that again in 2013. Well, he’s already proved that he’s going to run the country that way, by edict. He doesn’t care what happens in the Congress. He is going to achieve what he wants to do, and the country that I grew up in–and I’m not–I am not a Republican, God forbid I would join a party that dumb. But I’m an American first, and I’ve thought for some time now, because I worry about the question that I keep asking myself, what am I going to say to those grandchildren of mine twenty years from now, when they ask, how did you let all this happen, Dada?
Now I want to tell you some of the difference between the way the left–just hold on, I know I’m overrun, but I’m going to just finish this, because this may be the last time you ever hear from me. But I’m serious. Because I am tired of this. I even went out for a year. And was here. There was another person who really got this, and helped me, Steve Handler and some others, trying to develop research we developed. I have a program where I knew we could defeat Obama by taking his voters away from him at the soft underbelly. Not just preach to them wonderful conservative principles, but to make them understand what a fraud this guy is, slowly, and in the process it gets to the point where he has been a bad President.
And I want to tell you some of the difference of trying to go and track–and I know that people in this room don’t have the kind of money. But I just love the difference between the left, George Soros, Peter Baker and others–you know what the difference between them and your big donors? They really mean to do what they say, and they put their money where their mouth is. Your people want buildings with their names on it, and they want this, and they want to give their children–what the question is that Handley said, in New York this week to several people, which is haunting me, which is–what–if you give your children a lot of money, and you leave a lot of things, what does it matter if you give them a dead country?
This election matters more than everything. And I want to tell you, my frustration is such, it really helps to have somebody that knows somebody to help you figure out how to beat them. But you know, when Arianna Huffington or David Brock, you know, abandon you, you know, come over, the left embraces them. They give them sinecures. They do all kinds of things. They embrace them and support them and elevate them. You know what your side does? Anybody of my side who raises questions, you treat them like they were an alien from Mars carrying typhoid.
And I going to tell you the difference is, the day’s going to come, and I don’t say this because you people are wonderful. But I am really, really telling you, I’ve reached the end of this process, because time is running out. This election will be won by May, or it will be lost. And right now, it would be lost, because you’re giving him a clear field. And the people who could make a difference won’t. And then they’re going to bitch and moan and cry about it afterwards .
But let me tell you something. This will tell you something about the Obama people. You know who they’re coming for? They’re coming for you, and they’re coming for those people. And the day they start real redistribution in this country–and you’re all whining and stuff–you remember what I said today about the people who won’t stand up. And where your big donors, who won’t stand up to win, and this is–and that’s why I said this may be my last talk–but I feel so strongly and I feel so frustrated, and I’ll tell you what. We did research and stuff. We have ways this guy could be–peeling him apart is so easy. But it will never be done with a Republican voice. It will never be done by conservatives preaching ideology. And I think the value of ideas is critical. Don’t misunderstand me. But right now, I’m not saying electing Romney, for God’s sakes, or anyone else will make a big difference yet. It’s a long way to get this country back. But this election determines whether that opportunity will even exist. And right now, we’re losing that opportunity.
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