Hugh Hewitt, the questioner picked by GOP leaders for the upcoming candidates’ debate, is firmly on the establishment’s side in its struggle against outsider Donald Trump.
Hewitt is going to be asking the questions in the Sept. 16 debate, and he’s already made clear he doesn’t like Trump—he doesn’t like his populist priorities, and he prefers establishment candidates, such as Sen. Marco Rubio, who has tried since 2012 to boost the migration of lower-wage, profit-boosting foreign workers into the United States.
“No. no, he doesn’t” have the “temperament” to be president, Hewitt said about Trump, to NBC host Chuck Todd Aug. 9.
The next debate takes place Sept. 16 at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, but Hewitt is already doing his best to rough-up Trump.
Trump sat for a Sept. 3 interview on Hewitt’s radio show. While the title of the audio file posted on Hewitt’s website suggests that the interview was presented to Trump as an opportunity to answer why he “took the [GOP] pledge,” yet Hewitt’s first mention of Trump’s GOP pledge did not come until 20 minutes and 32 seconds into the interview—an interview which was a grand total of 20 minutes at 47 seconds long.
Instead, Hewitt began by immediately presenting a list of jihadi leaders to identify. Properly, Trump tried to focus on the top-level question of national strategy, including his determination to boost America’s clout. “By the time we get to office, the [individuals will] all be changed. They’ll be all gone… I will hopefully find [a great strategist like] Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the [U.S] pack” to counter those jihadis, Trump said. “Iran right now is in the driver’s seat to do whatever they want to do,” he said, but Hewitt kept pushing Trump to talk about individual leaders on the jihadi side.
“Are you familiar with General Soleimani?” Hewitt began the interview by asking. “I’m looking for the next commander-in-chief to know who Hassan Nasrallah is, and Zawahiri, and al-Julani, and al-Baghdadi. Do you know the players without a scorecard, yet, Donald Trump?,” Hewitt pressed.
Hewitt was then the first to suggest that his questions could be considered a so-called “gotcha questions.”
“I don’t believe in gotcha questions,” Hewitt said defensively—even though Trump had yet to accuse him of such. “I’m not trying to quiz you on who the worst guy in the world is,” Hewitt insisted.
NBC’s Chuck Todd later described the mugging as the “Hugh Hewitt pop quiz of Donald Trump.”
Trump’s enemies in the GOP and in the GOP-leaning media seized on the interview to claim that Trump is unprepared for the job. His answers are “very concerning,” said Hewitt’s favorite candidate, Rubio. Politico, a pro-establishment website, called the interview a “gaffe” for Trump.
But those criticisms weren’t leveled at candidate Carly Fiorina, when she also tried to steer Hewitt towards strategy instead of details. “I have to be very honest with you,” Fiorina replied. “Sometimes I can get confused a bit between the name and group because they sound a bit alike sometimes, so I have to pause and think sometimes.” Hewitt did not press her for a more in-depth answer: “I don’t think it’s disqualifying or in any way indictment that people get confused about the names,” he assured her.
National Journal reports he has become the “Republican establishment’s go-to pundit.”
Hewitt is the media darling of establishment Republicans and GOP leadership. For instance, in June of this year both Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy separately appeared on Hewitt’s show to sell the Republican plan to grant Obama authority to pass globalist wage-reducing trade deals, and earlier this year, Mitt Romney decided to allow Hewitt to be the first to report that Romney would not be running for president.
Thus the talk radio host, who was handpicked to participate in the debates as part of the Republican National Committee’s plan to provide balance to “Establishment” media outlets, is himself an establishment media figure in an election where outsiders and voters are jointly slashing at the bipartisan establishment that has run Washington since at least 1988.
Hewitt is frequently in complete agreement with so-called “mainstream” outlets on the most critical issues of the 2016 debate—borders, language, and national identity. That puts him squarely on the opposite side of most Republican primary voters and the vast majority of Americans who favor a more populist platform that protects Americans’ jobs and wages.
In a recent op-ed, Hewitt urged Republicans not to get distracted by the death of young Kate Steinle. Even though 62 percent of Americans would like to see legal action taken against sanctuary cities, Hewitt casually dismissed the concerns of Americans who are worried about rape- and murder-enabled by sanctuary cities, and instead advised Republicans to focus their attention on China and Vladimir Putin: “[Kate Steinle’s] slaying by an oft-deported illegal immigrant felon should not prompt Republican presidential candidates to become amplifiers for that small slice of the electorate which sincerely believes illegal immigration is the most pressing issue facing the country,” Hewitt declared.
While many Americans were furious about President Barack Obama’s decision to wave in a flood of illegal alien minors last summer, Hewitt argued that the United States should “make the border kids Americans.” He demanded that the illegal minors be “dispersed all across the country,” even as Americans were blocking convoys of Obama’s migrants. He was even more anti-border than Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who last summer argued that the minors could not be allowed to remain in the country. “We have to send a clear message that ‘Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean your child gets to stay,’” she said in June of 2014.
Hewitt’s support for open borders would accelerate the decline in schools’ SAT scores and would impose additional burdens on already-strained educational resources, but would also fill the ranks of Democrats with millions of additional government-dependent migrants. This type of mass immigration turned Hewitt’s home state of California—a state which once launched the Gipper into both the Governor’s mansion and the oval office—into an irreversibly blue, big-government stronghold.
On language and national identity, Hewitt once again finds himself opposed to the views of most Republican primary voters. Language and national identity emerged as a dominant 2016 issue last week when Trump called for English language patriotism after Jeb Bush delivered a Trump-attack message in Spanish. Even though becoming an American citizen requires proficiency in the English language, Hewitt has argued that the United States should not place any great value in language patriotism—arguing that the “perfect [GOP] ticket” will be able to “talk to Latino-Americans.” That’s partly why he backs Spanish-speaking Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, who have a “fluency in the language of Univision and Telemundo.”
Marco Rubio has frequently used his Spanish interviews on Univision to promote a campaign agenda that contradicts the one he sells to his constituents when he is speaking English. He did this during the height of the Gang of Eight bill, when he told his Spanish audience that amnesty and legalization of illegal immigrants would precede border enforcement. Rubio similarly repeated this tactic earlier this year when he decided to endorse Obama’s executive amnesty for illegal immigrants in a Spanish media interview with Jorge Ramos.
Hewitt’s views on language places him squarely at odds with conservative icon and grassroots leader Phyllis Schlafly, who has argued that Rubio’s decision to campaign in Spanish while running to be the President of the United States ought to be inherently disqualifying: “Rubio’s [pro-executive amnesty] statement was made in Spanish on the Spanish-language network Univision, which is reason enough to eliminate him from serious consideration,” Schlafly said. “When somebody is running for President of the United States, why should we have to get somebody to translate his remarks into English?”
Hewitt, however, does not seem to be bothered by Rubio’s contradicting, dual-language campaign agendas, as both Hewitt’s public and private comments indicate his high regard for Rubio as a presidential candidate.
Publicly, Hewitt has described Marco Rubio as “Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare,” as he said in a June appearance on Meet The Press. This is apparently a sentiment Hewitt shares in private conversations as well—in a closed-door gathering of Republican Hill-staffers in June of this year, Hewitt told GOP aides that he believes Rubio to be the Republican candidate who poses the greatest threat to Hillary Clinton, several GOP aides told Breitbart News. Hewitt has also praised Rubio’s work on immigration and in January of 2013, Hewitt advised Republicans to follow Rubio’s lead on the issue of immigration: “Marco Rubio has credibility… listen to him. Do what he says. It isn’t that complicated.”
On American sovereignty and trade agreements, which Trump has used as a wedge issue to distinguish himself from virtually every other Republican candidate running for president, Hewitt—once again— finds himself at odds with Trump and American voters. Trump has made in-roads with blue-collar voters with his emphasis on bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States and pleading to crack down on the unfair trading practices of foreign competitors. “On free trade deals, Trump shares a skepticism held by about half of Republican voters, but that’s usually suppressed by the party’s powerful business wing,” writes Ezra Klein from liberal-leaning website Vox.
But again, this is not an opinion shared by the RNC’s preferred radio host. In June of this year, Hewitt told Paul Ryan that he strongly supports the creation of global trade pacts: “I’m a big TPA-TPP supporter,” Hewitt proudly declared. While Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Howie Carr, and Lars Larson all opposed giving President Obama trade promotion authority, Hewitt stood firmly beside establishment Republicans in their effort to pass Obamatrade, which could ensnarl the United States in global governing commissions similar to that of the European Union.
While Hewitt is at odds with Republican voters on the central issues of the 2016 election debate, which he will help moderate—there is an increasing sense amongst political observers that the critical issue of immigration has legs beyond simply the 2016 debate—and is, in fact, the central political issue of the 21st century.
On Sunday, Sept. 6, Hewitt declared on Twitter that the “Pope calls on all of Europe’s Catholics to house refugees.”
Although a tweet isn’t always an endorsement, it certainly suggests that Hewitt agrees with the Pope’s general post-national, anti-border views. The tweet harkens to mind the controversial 1973 French novel Camp of the Saints, which argued that liberals and Western religious leaders would dissolve national borders in the name of tolerance for foreign cultures and would drown the West under a flood of hopeful migrants.
Many political observers—from Pat Buchanan to The Week Magazine—have argued that the challenges facing Western civilization have become a fundamental issue for ordinary Americans and Europeans, because tens of millions—and soon hundreds of millions—of poor Africans, Latin Americans, Asians, and Middle Easterners are responding to the open-borders signals from progressive elites in the developed world. That deep divide between elite and ordinary voters, between the developed world and the global poor, ensures that that migration is not only the central issue of the 2016 election, but also one of the primary issues of 21st century global politics.
But Hugh Hewitt is a voice for the bipartisan elites.