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RUSH: I was almost right. My gut was telling me yesterday that this thing was not over when the show ended yesterday, that the possibility of Trump showing up at the debate was not over. We’ve learned that the moderators, the moderating crew — Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly — even as late 8:45 thought Trump might bop over. There were negotiations going on all during the day.

Trump was never serious about it. And I figured it out when I learned that Trump made a demand to Fox News, $5 million donation to his veterans group. I mean, there was no way Fox can do that. You throw that demand out as a way of shutting the thing down. So Trump wasn’t there. He was down the road a couple of miles doing his veterans event, an entirely different Trump event. It was unlike any Trump event that has taken place.

Back in the debate center, there was Ted Cruz in the center of the space. He had the center podium, which meant that he was going to be the focus of attention. He became the front-runner by default when compared to the other people in the room and where they stand. Trump, the front-runner depending on polls, but he wasn’t there. That automatically made Cruz on the target. Cruz is gonna be the target anyway simply because the establishment, made up of a lot of people, do not want Cruz or Trump to get the nomination.

So with Cruz in there, without Trump to take any incoming, all the incoming could be focused on Cruz, and they tried quite a bit. If you didn’t know any better, you might think when this is all over — let me just jump forward to the end and ask you all a question. First, did you guys in there watch this whole thing? Okay, let me ask you a question. Because my setup, I was watching both. I had the debate on the main TV in my library, and I had my computer set up, my laptop in front of me on the desk to be able to make instantaneous notes and observations, should it have been necessary. And to the left of that I had my iPad Pro, and on the iPad Pro I had YouTube streaming the Trump event, and I was going back and forth.

I can’t keep the audio of both up at the same time because I would be able to hear nothing, so I had to go back and forth. The Trump event was not closed-captioning, at least I couldn’t find a way to turn it on, but the debate was so I relied on closed-captioning and listened to the Trump event until a couple things happened there.

I bumped out of it, kept the video on. (interruption) You would have to ask me about battery life, wouldn’t you? You just… Okay, I’ll just tell you. My iPad Pro — which, with my normal usage, five days between charges — lost 60% of the charge just in the period of time Trump was on YouTube. It’s a massive battery in that thing. I mean, every device I’ve got is churning battery. Anyway, I really don’t want to get distracted by that ’cause I literally do get ticked off. I just do. Not because of that.

It’s because what efforts — or not efforts. Anyway, so I’m watching and going back and forth. And then I learn that CNN is not going wall-to-wall with the Trump event. They’re bumping in and out of it. C-SPAN did. So I knew immediately that there could never be a ratings comparison, which people were considering and looking forward to. But there couldn’t be because CNN didn’t stick with it. Plus, they had their commentators chatting over it while it was happening. So it was not wall-to-wall Trump on CNN.

MSNBC did some of it. It was over on C-SPAN. So it ends up the Fox debate drew 13 million, which is a steady audience, a fair audience. But it’s nowhere near what could have been. And what could have been… That’s what was telling me, my gut, that Trump was gonna show. The opportunity on both sides — Fox and Trump — to hit 35, 40 million people, is what I thought both of them might, at the end of the day, figure out. From that standpoint alone it would make sense to do. So, anyway, back to my question.

You all watched the debate and you had your opinions as the debate went on as to who was doing better than you expected or worse than you expected. It was a good night, bad night — and then immediately after it was over, Fox goes to the Frank Luntz focus group. And the Frank Luntz focus group makes it clear that among that group of people, there was only one winner last night (and it wasn’t even close) and it was Marco Rubio.

And to put an exclamation point on it, the way Luntz did it, is he set it up by asking his focus group: “So how many you arrived here not intending to support Rubio?” And a couple of hands went up. “Okay. Now that the debate is over,” Luntz asked his group, “how many of you are going to support Rubio now?” Practically every hand went up. I said, “What?” I’m just, folks, sharing observations with you. Let me do an A, B, C. Mr. Snerdley, do you think Rubio won the debate? (interruption) You did, okay. (interruption)

Dawn, do you think Rubio won the debate? (interruption) That’s two no’s. Brian, do you know who Rubio is? (interruption) Brian didn’t watch. Okay. I’m just kidding. He knows who Rubio is. I’m gonna go through it here in a minute person by person. It was a totally different dynamic without Trump there. I mean, it changed the atmosphere of the thing. I think it changed in favor of all the participants. In fact, there was… Yeah, there was one point. And I mentioned the Trump event down the road was a totally different Trump event.

I don’t know if the people that showed up for that event ended up being disappointed or not, but Trump was barely in it. He turned the stage over to Huckabee and Rick Santorum at one point, and let them go on as long as they wanted. He stood on stage while they made their speeches. It was an interesting picture because those two guys are the last two Iowa caucus winners, and there’s Trump up there on stage with them. And then he turned it over to the series of veterans. He made his own speeches, and he announced how much money he’d raised. But there was not a political campaign event in the sense that Trump has been doing them.

It was clearly focused on his charity for the troops, fundraising. In fact, Trump even started his event 15… In fact, I’m gonna tell you: I made a prediction. I was chatting with some friends via instant message, going back and forth here (iChat, message, whatever it is), and when Trump didn’t show up right at nine o’clock, I said, “I’ll tell you what he’s doing: He’s letting this get established on the pretext that people won’t get bored. Trump won’t show up for 15 minutes.

“He’s gonna wait until people watch the Republican debate. He knows people are gonna go there first, and when he thinks they’re getting bored, that’s when he’ll walk out. And then I further… Should I say this? Yeah, I’ll go ahead. I then further texted to one of my compatriots last night. I said, “My prediction is that the first time been Carson is asked a question is when Trump will come out,” and by golly, by gosh if that isn’t what happened. So, I mean, I think Trump chose what you would consider a low point, low energy. Enough time had gone by, people were getting bored, and then he bops out.

And he even announces he wanted to let them get started over there. He didn’t want to usurp anything they were doing. Go ahead and let them get started; then he comes out and does his event. There was a period of it seemed like 30 minutes when Trump was nowhere to be seen. The camera at the Trump event, like always, did not pan the room. It was constantly on the podium in the center of the stage. So after about 20 minutes of no Trump, I started asking myself, “Is he on his way across the street? Is he gonna storm into that debate?

“I’ve never seen this. It’s a Trump event, and he’s not on it.” He had totally turned this over to his troops, the people that he’s met along the way, who were doing their own speeches and so forth. “Where’s Trump?” It turns out he was there. He was always backstage off to the side. It’s just the cameras at that event were not showing Trump. You know, I was still… The whole first, I guess, half hour I kept thinking, “I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump shows up at the Republican debate,” even when it was not even possible.

I had the possibility wide open in my mind. Who did you think won the debate, Mr. Snerdley? (interruption) If you didn’t think that it was Rubio, who did? (interruption) You think…? (interruption) Okay, he says Trump. Trump won by not being there. He just took all the oxygen out of the room, his absence did. And so these guys end up destroying each other. Trump’s not there. Trump did not get hit. They all did. They got hit by the moderators; they got hit about each other. Trump did not even get swung at last night, not seriously.

Some people tried to crack jokes. Cruz tried to crack a couple jokes. (interruption) You think they fell flat? You think Cruz’s jokes fell flat? Ah, we’ll get into all that. I’m gonna take a brief time-out here. That’s just a little bit of the setup. We’ve got all kinds of analysis and audio sound bites from what other people think about this. Of course, that’s not why you’re here. You’re here to find out what I think about it, and I’m not going to shirk from that responsibility.


RUSH: Okay. Before we get to the audio sound bites of the debate and your phone calls, I’ll just give you a little sketchy, really sketchy review of what happened. I thought the debate had an entirely different intensity level as I watched it without Trump.

Everybody’s very aware Trump’s not there; everybody’s wondering what that’s gonna mean, start asking themselves, “Okay how does this feel as I watch it? Does it feel like there’s something missing? Is there some excitement, potential excitement we know is not gonna happen, and even if it does, do we care? If a couple of candidates go after each other, we gonna get mad? If one of the moderators go after a candidate are we gonna get mad like we would if Trump was there?”

These were all questions I was asking myself as this was starting, and I assume that a lot of you were as well. I was also asking myself, okay, the commentariat after this whole thing is over, you know, folks, if I may, I have another observation for you. I have often said that I believe it was, at first, this program, which started in 1988, which was the forerunner to the creation of a whole brand-new, alternative media, conservative media. I think the arrival of this program as the first national over-the-air media, broadcast media that was unabashedly conservative, and the things that came after, other talk shows, the blogs, Fox News, I think all of that brought the mainstream media out from behind the curtain.

And I’ve always believed that the Drive-Bys were no longer able to hide their objectivity. My program flushed out media liberals who had successfully hidden their political agendas. And, as such, partisanship has become the order of the day no matter where you go in the media. The so-called mainstream media, very few of them today even make a pretense of being objective. It’s so not true now. But it used to be the way that they all operated; we’re objective, we’re fair, we’re unbiased. When they were the only game in town they were able to hide and camouflage their liberalism and make it look like the natural order of the day. Then this program comes along and others following it and expose all that, and they were flushed out.

They could no longer hide their political agenda. Partisanship became clear as media types couldn’t resist getting into the open-and-front opinion business. They relished it. They relished dropping the cloak of objectivity, and the competition was on. That’s why I think the partisanship has gotten worse. I do. I think there were obviously more peaceful times before this program started and its offspring. And by peaceful, there wasn’t any resistance. I mean, people who thought the media was liberal talked about it around their kitchen tables and that was it. Or they talked about it at church. But that’s as far as it went. You thought the media was biased in favor of Democrats, anti-Republican, it stayed with you and whoever you discussed it with. Well, once that became, or once a national forum for that point of view hit the airwaves, this program, all bets are off. They could no longer hide. They were flushed out.

Some of them loved, some of the Drive-Bys loved getting into the opinion journalism business. Some of them loved the fact they didn’t have to hide it anymore, didn’t have to fake it. A very few continue to operate under the phony, false premise that there is no liberal bias and that everybody’s fair and objective. I think Trump is doing the same thing to certain elements of the right-leaning media. People have made the mistake that there are two different and very distinct media, the Drive-Bys, the mainstream, and all of us in the, whatever you want to call it, the New Media, conservative media, alternative media.

But within that universe of alternative media, New Media, so-called conservative media, there are their own factions. And some of those people have been masquerading as conservative media, masquerading as conservative think tanks, or conservative institutions. Trump has come along and, for whatever reason, flushed out the not-quite-so-conservative conservative media types. And their agenda is now exposed.

So what has happened here is that agendas are being dragged out of the shadows everywhere, all over the place, kicking and screaming, and people are learning that places they thought were conservative may not be. People they thought were conservative may not be quite as conservative as they thought. Maybe some of them are much more tied to the establishment than was originally thought. And, by the way, this is not a secret way of praising Trump. Again, it’s another observation, because all of the agendas are being exposed now, and people are capable of identifying them and, because they’re aware of who has an agenda and what the agenda is, they know whether to be suspicious or doubtful or to sign on and support it or what have you.

My point is just because we don’t see partisanship doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. It just means that some people are prone to being ignorant and making false assumptions. I think it’s all good. I think it’s all healthy. I think people being able to hide their agendas behind firewalls, pay walls, phony walls, whatever it is, I don’t think it’s good. I think whoever and however all this stuff gets flushed out so that you know, you’re listening to a commentator, a reporter, wherever you find them, columnist, if you know they’ve got and agenda — this my whole point about identifying the ideology of people, and particularly identifying liberals and liberalism. ‘Cause nobody likes what they do. Nobody likes living in the circumstances created by liberals. They vote for them, there’s a host-of-reasons, we know what they are. The Republican brand has been damaged greatly for a whole host of reasons, and then there’s the compassion angle.

“I think I’m helping people, the Democrats care about people, they love people, they don’t want people to suffer. They’re for the minorities, and they’re for the victims,” all that rotgut, which is not true. It’s just window dressing. People vote for this stuff. Look at Obama’s approval numbers. Have you seen Bill Clinton’s approval numbers? Bill Clinton’s approval numbers have plummeted 39%. The Democrat Party is more worried about that than they are what’s happening with Hillary’s numbers. Because Bill was always the firewall, the stopgap.

Bill was always what was gonna save Hillary. His numbers are plummeting. He’s not drawing crowds. He’s having trouble drawing crowds like Hillary had to draw crowds and couldn’t when her book tour was happening. A host of reasons for it as well, not the least of which is that we’ve got a whole new generation of people here who are not dazzled by the Clintons, who didn’t grow up dazzled and mesmerized and idolizing them and so forth. So I think all this being flushed out is good.

You know, I did something last night watching the debate that I always try to avoid doing because it’s easy and it’s maybe too easy, makes a little cheap. And I’ve always resented it when people try it on me. What I mean is you watch the debate and say, “Damn, you know what I would have said? I would have said X.” It’s a way people criticize the people in the debate, since we’re talking about that. But it could be anybody appearing on TV, radio, whatever, you hear them, “No, no, you know what you really should have said –” and people run around thinking they’ve got all the answers. They know what they would have said, that people on TV are choking or what have you.

But I found myself doing that last night, not about specific people. But I said, “There’s something missing in this debate.” For me. There was something I wanted to see, I want to see it in every debate. There was something missing. And it probably is because there are moderators who take debates — I mean, let’s face it. The moderators, all of them, always try to turn the combatants against each other, or, in some cases, the moderators try to turn the combatants against the moderators. And the moderators want to become part of the story. As such, the real problem in this country gets touched on now and then, but it’s never the focal point.

And to me, I was saying to myself last night, gosh, if I were on that stage, especially Trump’s not there, if I were on that stage, I don’t care what they ask me, every time I open my mouth I would start reminding people why they’re scared, why things are going wrong, and I would blame the big L. Liberalism would have come out of my mouth, and I would have tied it to current events, current statistics, current circumstances. But that’s really what we’re trying to stop, is it not? What all of this is about, at the end of the day, is stopping what Obama started.

Now, arguably lots of people started it before Obama. He’s just the most radical, but the point is this has to be stopped. And instead what we get — and I don’t know how you do it, how you avoid it with current debate structure and format. But what you get mostly is gotcha. Like last night they played video for Cruz and Rubio showing them making ostensibly conflicting statements in the past versus what they’re saying now, and the demand is, “So, were you lying then or you lying now?” is the basic thrust of the question. “You mean it back then or do you mean it now?”

And so you have a bunch of people defending themselves, defending their positions, which they’ve got no choice. They’re forced into this. And this is not a specific criticism, again, I’m just observing it. This is the way these network moderated debates are always gonna be. There were only two candidates that I saw that had video histories shown to them. That would be Cruz and Rubio. They happened to be the two front-runners, right?

There wouldn’t have been an opportunity… Maybe they would have tried with Trump. That was essentially the first question Megyn Kelly ever asked him was one of those without video. “Mr. Trump, in the past you’ve said X and Y and Z about women,” and we knew what happened. But… So it’s not a criticism; it’s just a wish. It’s a wish, ’cause I think what we’re all united against is stopping what’s happening: The destruction of the American economy, the destruction of the American health care system, the attack…

I mean, the-straightforward frontal attack on the American culture, on decency and morality. All of these things. The out-of-control and destructive spending, for which a due bill is going to be presented at some point down the road. People have legitimate fears that that bill’s gonna be presented when their kids or grandkids become adults, and it’s gonna stand in the way of anybody creating a nice living for themselves with enough wealth to be able to save money, to send kids to college.

These are things that people are genuinely afraid of. And while there’s an understanding in a debate that that’s what the people on the stage the stage are aligned against, they end up having to defend themselves on the minutia of policy many times. Like, who’s really against amnesty and who’s really not, and who’s tricking Republican voters, who’s really part of the establishment.

And it’s all relevant. But the objective here is to end up discrediting people to the point that they no longer survive. And the real intent and discovery of, “Do we have anybody on this stage…? Is there anybody on this stage who really gets it, that this stuff that’s happened has gotta be stopped?” So that’s like a what-if, a wish list for me as I watched this thing last night. And not just this one.

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