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RUSH: Let’s just get back to the audio sound bites. Sunday morning on Meet the Press F. Chuck Todd had Ted Cruz on, and, among other things, said this.

TODD: Let me ask you something Rush Limbaugh said earlier this week about your candidacy. He said: “Ted Cruz has fought these guys every day that he’s been in Washington, and for a lot of reasons that doesn’t register.” Basically he’s — it sounds like he was almost lamenting it, but the fact is, Donald Trump stole your outsider brand. Super Tuesday was supposed to be the day you were going to be solidifying your status as the front-runner and it’s not turning out that way. How did Trump steal your outsider brand?

RUSH: And this is what Ted Cruz responded.

CRUZ: We really saw this in the debate last week. We saw a contrast between Washington deal makers, and this is how we’ve gotten in the mess we’re in now, is Republicans who cut deals with Democrats, grow the debt, grow government and give away our constitutional rights. A contrast between deal makers and a principled constitutional conservative. It was striking. When Donald Trump said, “Ted, you gotta be willing to compromise on the Supreme Court. You gotta be willing to compromise on religious liberty,” let me tell you, I will not compromise away your religious liberty rights. I will not compromise away your Second Amendment. And Donald Trump is telling us, if he’s president, he’ll cut a deal with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer and give away your constitutional rights.

RUSH: All right. Let’s go back to the question here from F. Chuck Todd. He said, “It sounds like Donald Trump stole your outsider brand. Super Tuesday was supposed to be the day you were going to be solidifying your status as the front-runner. It’s not turning out that way.” Well, Donald Trump has stolen everybody’s brand. You know, this race was shaping up — before Trump gets in, even after Trump gets in, because nobody thinks Trump is gonna go anywhere. He gets in June 16th.

Prior to that it’s just rumored he’s gonna run, but the rumors are being greeted with, “No way. He’s just negotiating for a new deal on The Apprentice.” That was what everybody was saying last summer. And then he did get in and had that speech announcing his candidacy. I had CNN on while Trump was doing that and I stayed with CNN, and every commentator they had said this is the most ridiculous thing. This is the funniest, this is a laugh riot, this is gonna go nowhere, this guy’s not serious. And then the first poll came in and the political world was shocked.

Now, I’m sure Cruz had a plan. I know what Cruz’s plan was. Cruz believes, or believed — I’m sure he still does — the 2012 returns, four to five million Republican, conservative voters didn’t show up. It has been theorized that many of those are evangelicals that opposed Romney for a host of reasons. On religious regions and the fact that Romney was a faux conservative, wasn’t a real guy, but just fed up with the Republican Party, didn’t vote. And it was thought that that was the margin of victory, had those four million people shown up, that Romney would have won.

So Cruz immediately I believe strategized how to get those four or five million back to the polls. Well, then the field fills up and Rubio decides to go, and Jeb is in there, and early on, before Trump gets in, don’t forget, everybody thinks Jeb is gonna be the guy, and Jeb’s money is gonna be the obstacle, and so everybody’s focused on how to get around Jeb while Jeb is figuring out how to win without exciting the base. I mean, it was a really convoluted situation. But the Cruz strategy was always to be who he is, the unquestioned, unquestionable, rock solid, anti-Washington establishment conservative. On whatever issue you’re talking you can never doubt, you can have no doubt that Ted Cruz is your guy.

Trump’s candidacy starts blowing all that up because it took the ideology out of everything. You know, F. Chuck Todd is right in one sense here. Ted Cruz is only guy that was taking on the Republican establishment of all the Republicans in the race. Now, you might want to throw Ben Carson in there, but he was not an elected official, so he had automatic outsider status, and he had come to national awareness by virtue of his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast on Obamacare. But everybody else that was in the race, they were either governors or senators or something, and they were all establishment in one way or the other.

Ted Cruz was it. And he was the only guy who had been fighting the establishment and he had done it to their face. He goes to the floor of the Senate, he calls Mitch McConnell a liar on any number of issues, from the budget to amnesty, to Senate rules, and Cruz had made it plain he was the guy that was gonna take it to the establishment. He was such an outsider that even as a member of the Senate he was hated, despised, and that was always gonna be a resume enhancement point. Well, Trump coming in with the force of his personality upset all kinds of apple carts, including Ted Cruz’s.

But through it all, everybody else in the race and Trump, there still is only one guy who has actively demonstrated opposition to the establishment, and that’s Cruz. But like I mentioned in that comment that F. Chuck Todd quoted to Cruz in his question and that is, it hasn’t registered that that’s who Cruz is. And his question was a legitimate one. How is it that your outsider brand — I don’t think it was stolen by Trump, it was just superseded or overpowered. I don’t know what the word would be.

Cruz has an excellent point here. And Trump has done this two or three times. In a way of disqualifying Cruz, Trump has said that he’s hated in the Senate, can’t get along with anybody there and therefore can’t make any deals there. I have to tell you, the people that support Ted Cruz don’t want him making deals with McConnell. They don’t want him making deals with any of those people. They want him going in there and blowing the place up, and by contrast it’s Trump talking about the ability to get along with these people, which is a huge contrast. It’s in diametric opposition to what people think of Trump.

It’s Trump that’s out there talking about how he likes Pelosi and Reid, he could do deals with them if he had to. Now, his caveat is, I will win those deals for the Republicans as opposed to losing those deals like every other Republican has been doing. But Cruz has an excellent point here to keep making if he wants to, if he wants to try to regain the idea, the notion that he is the singular fighting opponent to the establishment, and he is, he’s the guy, he could point out that Trump’s the guy talking about working with them and making deals with ’em.

And Cruz wasn’t finished. Chuck Todd then said, “Now, you’ve released summary pages of your tax returns. So did Marco Rubio. You said the only reason you released summary pages is because Rubio did. Well, how are you forcing Trump to release his tax return if you only release your first two pages? Will you be happy if Trump just releases summary pages of his returns?”

CRUZ: Look, it would be a very positive step in the right direction. You know, Chuck, maybe it is the case, that Donald — there have been multiple media reports about Donald’s business dealings with the mob, with the Mafia. Maybe his taxes show those business dealings are a lot more extensive than has been reported, regardless —

TODD: Let me stop you there. Wait a minute, Senator Cruz, let me stop you there. That’s just — that’s openly speculative. Do you have any facts to support that Donald Trump has mob ties?

CRUZ: Oh, sure. ABC, CNN, multiple news reports have reported about his business dealings with, for example, S&A Construction which was owned by Fat Tony Salerno, who was a mobster who is in jail.

RUSH: Okay. So you can make of that whatever you want. Tax returns, I guess they would show if you’re dealing with the mob. A mob deduction here, a mob deduction there, a deduction if you’re working with the mob here on this building there, I suppose. Look, Chuck could say, “Hey, it’s speculative, Senator Cruz.” That’s all Reid’s was about Romney. Harry Reid was entirely speculative. (imitating Reid) “A friend of mine says Senator Romney or Governor Romney hasn’t paid his taxes in 10 years.”

“Yeah, who?”

“It doesn’t matter. My friend told me.”

“Who is your friend?”

“It doesn’t matter. You need to be asking Romney why he hasn’t paid his taxes in 10 years.”

The media said, “Oh, yeah, good point,” and off they went to ask Romney why he hadn’t paid his taxes. They are not off asking Trump if he’s doing deals with Mafia. They are saying, “How dare you, Cruz, speculate like that? Who the hell do you think you are? Show us any proof.” And we get the fat Tony Salerno answer.

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