In a Monday interview, acclaimed Reagan biographer Craig Shirley described GOP frontrunner Donald Trump as “a breath of fresh air” and explained that in Trump’s candidacy “We might be witnessing a new form of American conservatism emerging.”
Shirley, who heads the deeply-influential conservative public relations firm Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, explained that Trump’s honest campaign contrasts starkly with that of donor-class favorite Marco Rubio. Shirley argued that Rubio’s position on immigration—a position, which conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly described as “anti-American” and “dangerous”— may prove to be “a campaign ender” for the young Florida Senator.
Part of Trump’s appeal, Shirley explained, is that Trump, as a successful businessman, knows how the political game works—i.e. he knows how donors are essentially able to buy politicians and get them to them to champion their special interests. Shirley likened Trump’s sincere and populist campaign to Paul’s conversion in the Bible. “He’s on a road to Damascus,” Shirley said of Trump’s campaign to crush the donor-class influence in Washington. “He’s gone through a reformation just like Paul did. There’s something quite refreshing to the American voters, especially Republican primary voters, to somebody who’s willing to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness, and then become… a crusader for reform. I think that’s part of his appeal.”
Shirley explained that in Donald Trump, “We might be witnessing a new form of American conservatism emerging in the persona of his campaign and his candidacy… Part of his appeal is that he’s so honest and so refreshing and so frank in his delivery of speeches and his comments.”
Indeed, Trump has been upfront about his desire to end the open border trade and immigration policies championed by the Ryan-Rubio wing of the party in Washington. In fact, Trump stands alone among the top-polling candidates in his aggressive opposition to Fast-Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Shirley likened Rubio’s political double-talk to that of President Obama: “It is political double-talk and this is what infuriates the grassroots. This goes back to why Donald Trump is so refreshing. He’s so frank and honest in what he’s saying, even if they disagree with him, at least it’s a breath of fresh air, unlike the political double-talk that we’ve been getting from politicians from Barack Obama to Mitt Romney and now Marco Rubio.”
Shirley said that Rubio’s recent declaration on Meet The Press that he believes illegal aliens should be allowed to remain in the United States is “not going to help him. It’s just going to become another issue, another reason to vote against him, another reason to question him and another reason to doubt him. It’s not going to help him, and he ought to just stop with the political double-talk and just take a page out of Trump and just start talking straight to the American voter.”
Shirley said that Rubio’s statement “could be a campaign ender for Marco Rubio”:
I don’t know what he was thinking. I don’t think he had cleared his thoughts and had a real, prepared, honest answer for that question, which is astonishing if you think about it, because he’s on a national television broadcast, he’s a presidential candidate. He should have prepped himself in some way, shape or form to anticipate these types of questions. And it wasn’t a question out of left field at all! It was a pretty basic question about where he stood on immigration and if he changed his position or not.
Iowa Congressman Steve King recently explained that Sen. Rubio has not changed his position on the issue at all. “He’s embraced the Gang of Eight bill in the core of its entirety,” King said of Rubio’s comments on Meet The Press. “The Gang of Eight bill was always about amnesty.”
Shirley explained that Rubio’s efforts to dodge questions and mask his convictions stands in stark contrast to Ronald Reagan:
When you don’t have a firm set of convictions, you get up in the morning and ask ‘Where do I stand today? What is my answer yesterday? How can I tweak it or how can I dodge it or how can I amend it?’ That’s what made Ronald Reagan so compelling is that he had a governing framework, which was freedom. So he knew the answer to every question because it was about government power versus personal power and he was always going to come down on the side of personal power and rights and autonomy and privacy and dignity over the government, and that’s what made Reagan so compelling as a candidate, whereas Rubio is uncompelling because he doesn’t seem to have a set framework or a governing framework.