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RUSH: So, again, the best definition of conservatism… For those of you who didn’t see the debate, I know this kind of leaves you in the dark, because you don’t know and you’re relying on somebody to tell you. I will at some point, but I want people in the audience to think about this. These are things that the postdebate analysis didn’t even get into. And the postdebate… I mean, everywhere. The postdebate analysis on Rubio was that he made a fool of himself, that he exposed himself as unprepared, robotic, nervous, not worthy of the bump that he got coming out of Iowa.

It may have, in fact, been like the Dan Quayle moment. That was Brit Hume’s take on Fox News. If you don’t remember that, Dan Quayle was George H. W. Bush’s vice presidential nominee. They were having a vice presidential debate, and Lloyd Bentsen (known here as Lord Bentsen, because he’s one of these left-wing Democrat aristocrats from Texas), was debating. Was it a vice presidential debate? It was a vice presidential debate, yeah. That’s right. It must have been… Well, I forget the year.

Anyway, during a discussion of inexperience, I believe it was, Quayle happened to mention that JFK was not that experienced when he was elected president after serving just a short period of time in the Senate, and Lord Bentsen pounced. Lord Bentsen said, “I knew JFK. John Kennedy was a friend of mine. And you, Senator, are no John Kennedy.” And the roof came off the place. It was total humiliation. It was one of the most, I mean, just devastating slams ever to have been witnessed in politics.

And poor Mr. Quayle had the deer-in-the-headlight eyes for a while before he tried to recover from it. That’s what many said happened to Rubio Saturday night. Now, I’m here to tell you that it was nowhere near that, but it wasn’t good. Rubio did seem to be unable to say anything else at certain times in the debate. But the question is, how did people who are gonna vote in this thing see it, versus how do the analysts see it? I am convinced, after so many years of doing this, that… It happens… I have always been amazed… Sorry for the stutter here. I’m looking for the best way to say this.

The way debate performances are analyzed, it’s as though people waiting to vote actually have their votes so insecurely attached to themselves, they can watch a debate and see one slipup and say, “Oops! That’s it.” When I hear somebody say Rubio had a bad night, very bad night… Well, Rubio fans that are committed are not gonna abandon him for this. Maybe people who are, you know, maybe leaning Rubio, yeah. But it takes more than this to talk committed supporters out of a candidate. This is just not the way that people make up their minds.

In fact, there’s even some good analysis that debates are not that big a factor in choosing a candidate. In presidential debates I remember not recently, but back in the… I forget the years. But it’s not all that new that debates have taken on more importance than they used to. Snerdley is frowning at that, but the old saw has always been that debates really don’t change things much at the presidential level. Now, that’s always been a rule of thumb based and backed up on polling data.

But the way these things get analyzed afterwards, it’s almost like you analyze a football game and you get mad at a wide receiver who dropped a certain touchdown pass, and that’s why the team lost. Well when you’re analyzing a football game, you already know who won, you already know who lost, and you can factor all these things in, in hindsight. But a debate takes place long before there’s a result, and nobody really knows how any of these myriad number of things that happen in a debate are gonna affect the outcome and individual votes.

For example, the definition-of-conservatism question may not be as harmful to candidates in New Hampshire as it could be in other states. Because the electorate in New Hampshire is made up a lot of moderates and independents. They have their share of conservatives, but it may not be as big a deal as if you fudge that question in South Carolina, for example. But there’s some people that really got that question horribly bad wrong. I mean, embarrassingly bad wrong, Saturday night. Isn’t it kind of fundamental? Define conservatism.

There were some people that were embarrassingly bad on it.

Not one comment postdebate.

Also on the postdebate analysis of Rubio and Christie? Yeah, Rubio did not look good. There’s no sense in you Rubio people trying to mask this. It was not his best. He did repeat it over and over again, and it did look at times like he had forgotten anything else to say. You have to admit it. But what nobody else talked about is how did Christie look on the attack, and did that help him? And there’s another question if you’re gonna go this route, and it’s a serious question as well that nobody can answer.

Okay, let’s say you assume that Rubio’s performance in the debate with his repetition of his claim that Obama is not incompetent and what he’s doing is not accidental… If that’s gonna hurt Rubio, who’s gonna end up being helped? If that is gonna cause people voting for Rubio to not vote for Rubio, where they gonna go? Does it mean they’re gonna go to Christie? Well, this is what you would be led to believe by postdebate analysis, that in this confrontation with Christie, if this is the way you look at it, exposed Rubio, then isn’t it natural Christie would pick up the votes that Rubio’s gonna lose because of it?

I don’t think that’s the way it works. I think if Rubio actually loses votes, you know where they’re gonna go? Ted Cruz. They’re not gonna go to John Kasich, and they’re not gonna go to Christie, and they’re not gonna go to Jeb. But depending what you want to happen if you’re an analyst on television or radio after one of these debates, and you have a desired outcome — which they all do. Silly for people to deny it. If indeed Rubio screwed up and lost some support, where does it go? Where does a disappointed Rubio voter go?

And they make the automatic conclusion that it’s gonna go to Christie, because Christie exposed him. And I don’t think there’s any evidence of that at all. And I don’t think there’s any formula that would be predictive of something like that. I think if you want to answer that you have to say, “Okay, why do Rubio supporters support him, and who’s closest to him if somebody gets soured on Rubio?” And then you figure out where they go. Might they go Carson? No. I mean, how many people are gonna knowingly vote for somebody they know is not gonna win this thing?

Do you realize four or five candidates are gonna get votes from people who know they haven’t got a prayer. There is an intricacy and a complexity to this that makes predicting it by virtue of what you think are missteps in a debate impossible to do. I’m still… I am still not convinced that Trump had a problem in Iowa solely because he didn’t go to the debate. It may be a factor, but it’s not the sole factor. By the same token, Trump in this debate was… For Trump, he was awesome. When the subject of eminent domain came up, when something that Trump believes in passionately comes up, get out of the way.

There isn’t gonna be anybody change his mind. There isn’t anybody gonna make him question what he believes, and he’s gonna destroy anybody disagrees with him. And he firmly believes in eminent domain. Now, many people on the Republican/conservative side immediately withdraw from eminent domain ’cause they think it’s nothing but big government times 10 stealing and taking people’s property, not compensating them fairly.

And here’s the leading Republican candidate extolling the virtues of eminent domain in a way that most voters have never heard, because most candidates would not dare promote, defend, advocate eminent domain. But Trump, as a builder and somebody who encounters the need for eminent domain throughout his business, has hands-on experience with it. He says, “You want the pipeline? I couldn’t get 10 feet of it without ’em. You want your highways? You want your roads, your bridges? You hear people talking about infrastructure rebuilding; you can’t do it without eminent domain.”

If somebody — and here’s the kicker — if somebody gets screwed in the deal, it’s because they didn’t do a good enough deal with the government when the government came in and wanted their property. If the government comes in and wants your property, make a killer deal. They’ve got an endless supply of money. You hold ’em up. You don’t give it away. You hold ’em up. And he ends up blaming the people who get screwed by eminent domain for making lousy deals.

Who does that? There’s Trump out there being Trump full and full, through and through. And Jeb Bush decided to get into it with him on this (imitating Bush), “Well, the difference is that, yes, Donald’s right when you’re talking about public sector and government eminent domain, but Donald Trump is not that one. Donald Trump wants your property to build a casino, or when Donald Trump wants your property to build a road or a bridge, that’s when you’re gonna get shafted.” And Trump’s sitting there making faces and acting frustrated and pooh-poohing Jeb away and then shushes him up. Just says be quiet (imitating Trump), “You don’t even know what you’re talking about, stop trying to be me, Jeb. Stop trying to look tough, it’s not working Jeb, it’s not working.”

Here’s another shining moment for Trump. Trump’s getting booed throughout this whole thing and after a while he gets fed up with being booed because he thinks he’s making brilliant points. He’s making points that normally bring the house down with standing ovations. He’s getting booed. So he finally decides to give it up. And he tells everybody (imitating Trump), “The reason I’m getting booed in here is because the only people in the audience are a bunch of donors. I tried to get tickets for my supporters, and they said you can have 20. That’s why I’m getting booed. You got people in here who don’t like Trump. You’ve got the donors; you’ve got the lobbyists; you’ve got the K Street people. You’ve got these people that want Jeb. You got these people that want all these moderates in here, and that’s why I’m getting booed. My fans were not allowed in here.”

The place booed, but nobody denied what he said. They might have ripped him for blowing cover, but nobody denied what he said. This debate was filled with great moments for many of the candidates. But if you rely solely on the post-debate analysis for your cues, you’re going to miss, because some of it doesn’t register with them, like when they were asked to define conservatism.

I guarantee you, that question, that’s when I would venture to say that if any of the professional political people in the audience, TV networks, moderators, analysts, they might not have taken a couple of minutes off during that answer because they don’t think it’s relevant, doesn’t matter, “What do you mean, define conservative? That’s not important.” But to the viewing audience, that’s everything to them. Who is and who isn’t a conservative and who can and cannot explain why. And, as I say, some of these candidates botched it big as possible. Some of them nailed it.


RUSH: Yeah, it was not Rubio’s best night. He came out of Iowa with roaring momentum, and every debate prior he had been the epitome of in control and optimistic passion, great articulation. And in this debate he seemed stuck. It wasn’t that he repeated himself four times; it’s that he seemed unable to come up with anything else. So said the critics.

And then the critics say that’s gonna cause a lot of voters to question their support for Rubio. And I don’t think it does. Maybe some that may be on the fence, and maybe people that don’t support Rubio obviously would not be inspired to after that. But to have something like that be this major upheaval? I don’t see it. Because there are too many other factors. Who’s to say that some people are not mad at Christie for the way he went after Rubio? I mean, don’t forget, even on our side there are conservatives and other Republicans who think that Christie may have been too mean, might have been too oppressive, who knows.

There’s just a whole bunch of factors that are involved in this that I think make it impossible to track voter support minute by minute in a debate. Let me put it this way. I don’t think anybody goes into a debate after the first five minutes, “You know what? The opening statement’s, best opening statement, Bush, I’m Bush’s guy.” And then the next five minutes somebody says something that really impresses, “You know what? Screw Bush. I’m with Carson.” And then Carson fumbles around next, that’s it for Carson, “You know what? I think I’ll go to Trump, Trump looks good.” I don’t think it happens this way. Do you? It does not happen this way.

So to analyze these debates that way I think kind of misses the point. If voters actually change their minds as frequently as the analysts tell us candidates screwed up or did well — like I could make the case that Ted Cruz had a bang-up debate Saturday night, and I could offer you evidence that he got hardly any discussion in the post-debate analysis. “Well, yeah, Rush, so how does that mean he did well?” Well, let me tell you.

Going in you know that most Republican establishment types and moderates and centrists do not like the guy at all. You know it. I don’t even have to tell you. Ergo, if Cruz had had an off night or if Cruz really screwed something up, that would have been the main thing they were talking about. But Cruz didn’t even get a mention until deep into the post-debate analysis. And the consensus analysis of Cruz was he had a solid night, he didn’t hurt himself, he didn’t help himself, he maybe went a little long talking about his sister, like okay, yeah. There were people gonna vote for Cruz. But at 25 seconds into an answer on his sister, “You know what, I don’t like this answer, I’m not voting for Cruz.” Just doesn’t happen that way.

The way people vote or even acknowledge support or lack of support for candidates does not track with the way these things get analyzed answer by answer, question by question. But they have to do something here to analyze it, and they have to do something here to illustrate their expertise.

Let’s go to the audio sound bites. I think maybe I can give you an idea of what I’m talking about. This is a montage of a bunch of analysts from Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, on Rubio somehow squandering whatever gravitas that he had going into the debate Saturday night.

GABE GUTIERREZ: Will Marco Rubio be painted now, forever, as a robotic candidate?
MARK HALPERIN: A robotic quality.
ANA MARIE COX: He’s already been portrayed by a lot of us as a fairly robotic candidate.
ANA NAVARRO: It was like when a robot gets water poured in it.
PETER ALEXANDER: Rubio is simply too programmed, too robotic.
RICHARD GRENELL: He was shown to be too robotic.
CARL CAMERON: That heÂ’s robotic.
DANIEL HALPER: This narrative that heÂ’s robotic.
STEPHEN HAYES: Robotic and repetitive.
BEN WHITE: He looked robotic.
AB STODDARD: Robotic talking points.
JOHN BERMAN: He is some kind of over-rehearsed robot.

RUSH: Now, I don’t have anything other than anecdotal. I have seen a little videotape of voters talking about Rubio, and I have gone to comments sections of websites, and I haven’t seen one voter talk about how Rubio was robotic. They’ve had other criticisms, and they’ve had other praise, but I haven’t seen this Rubio was robotic. The media consensus — and by the way, that’s a cross section of every network that we have, at least one person on every network, “Rubio was robotic.”

Now, I watched the debate. I never thought Rubio was robotic. I thought Rubio got stuck, had brain freezes. I’ve had them. It’s rare, but I’ve had them. I’ve had them in the middle of the Rush to Excellence performances. And I’ve had to vamp for two minutes trying to remind myself where I was. It just happens to people. Robotic, it’s not that this is the only thing he knows to say. How do you say he’s robotic when we’ve got how many debates that we’ve already had where everybody, every one of these people thought he was great? He was super. The guy was articulate, he was this, he was that. And now one debate and all of a sudden he’s become robotic. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way, particularly in the minds of people that vote.

Now, I’m not saying it’s not insignificant with voters. I may be threading the needle here too thin. But I’m just saying they don’t look at this as robotic. They might have looked at it as they were nervous for him or he seemed the opposite of robotic, just frozen, stuck. And they might say why, what got to him, why was he flustered? Was he really bothered by Christie? That’s what they’re gonna ask. Here’s Christie and Jeb on Sunday echoing that Rubio was robotic. Christie’s on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace. “So this is gonna go on for a while, these bumper cars with you and Rubio?”

CHRISTIE: Last night, what they saw is instructive. It’s instructive and needs to be seen and my strong leadership needs to be seen and Senator Rubio’s robotic performance needs to be seen, too.

RUSH: Well, who can disagree with him in the Drive-Bys? They’re all saying the same thing. Interesting, that. Fox News Sunday Chris Wallace talking to Governor Bush. He said, “Governor, how bad a night for your former protege, Marco Rubio?”

JEB: Well, you know, he’s so scripted. He’s so gifted, he’s a great speaker, but he came across as totally scripted and kind of robotic.

RUSH: There it is again. He was “robotic.” Snerdley, you watched this. I don’t mean to put you on the spot. Is “robotic” the way you reacted to this? (interruption) I didn’t, either. And I don’t have a dog in the fight yet, folks. There’s any number of these people that, if they won, I’d be cool with it. But robotic is not how I saw this. (interruption) Snerdley is reminding me that the last half of the debate, Rubio was back to normal. He was doing great job, like all the other previous debates. He was in command. He was articulating what he believed fine.

It was just the first half of the debate. It could be nothing more complicated than he knew everybody was gonna be coming for him and just… Nerves? I don’t know what it is. And, “Well, see? Rush if it’s that’s, my God! We can’t elect somebody’s gonna get nervous over something.” I understand. Folks, I’m not trying to tell you how to react to it. I’m just suggesting that the professionals here… I’m gonna repeat this again. What Rubio said… Forget how many times he said it. What Rubio said, he and Cruz are the only two saying it.

I’m telling you, folks, this is fundamentally important: The characterization, the analysis of Obama. Most of the people — Trump, Jeb, Christie (I don’t know about Carson), Kasich — guaranteed do not think that Obama has ill designs on America. “Why, no! Don’t be so silly! He’s just in over his head. He’s just not qualified for this. And this is why we can’t elect senators. This is precisely why we have to elect these brilliant, seasoned governors, ’cause these senators that haven’t even served a full term!

“Why, they’re so over their head that they just make a mess of everything.”

And Rubio’s point is he’s making mess of nothing, except the way this country was founded, and he’s doing it on purpose. Ted Cruz, as I say, is the only other guy who consistently makes this point because it happens to be true, and most Republican primary voters believe it to be true. Hell, it’s even beyond “believe it to be true.” They know it to be true! The real question is, why are the others not saying it? Why will Jeb not say it? Why will Chris Christie not say that Obama is purposely undermining this country as founded?

Why will John Kasich not say it? Why will Trump not say it? Trump is a unique answer here, but the other guys, I’ll tell you why they won’t say it. It is ’cause they’ve all worked with him. Well, Jeb hasn’t, but Jeb would have if he had been in position to. The Republican moderates, the Republican establishment. McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, has announced that there will be no disagreement with the Obama agenda this year, because he doesn’t want any argument or disagreement with Obama to be a negative impact on the Republican presidential campaign.

So the Senate majority leader has just said there will be no stopping Obama’s agenda, because to criticize Obama makes us look bad. What the hell is this campaign gonna be about if not that? My point is that these guys that will not characterize Obama as doing this on purpose. They can’t, because they’ve all worked with him one way or another. They’ve all sought his assistance or they have joined him one issue to another, and they can’t therefore say he’s undermining the country as founded because that would make them complicit. Since they’ve worked with him, the only thing they can say is he’s a bumbling idiot and incompetent.

I’m just saying, that’s not the case at all.

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