GOP presidential candidate Texas Senator Ted Cruz and talk radio and Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity engaged in a testy exchange over the delegate process on Hannity’s radio show on Tuesday.
Hannity began the interview by asking, “I think the number one question on the minds of Republicans right now is what is going on with the delegates. For example, if you can explain to people that your campaign, that you have every right, within the rules, to talk to candidates, that are pledged on a first ballot, to candidate A or candidate C, you being candidate B. And that — tell us what that process is.”
Cruz answered that isn’t what people are concerned about, and are instead concerned about policy issues and beating Democratic candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Cruz further stated that “the media loves to obsess about process. This process, and this whining from the Trump campaign is all silly. It’s very, very simple –.”
Hannity then cut in to say, “I’m on social media, with millions of people. I have 550 radio stations. And I have the top-rated cable in my hour, all across the board. And I am telling you, that people are telling me, that they find this whole process confusing.” He further stated that this wasn’t a “process question. It’s an integrity of the election question. And everybody’s asking me this question. So, I want — I’m giving you an opportunity to explain it.”
Cruz responded, “Sean, the only people asking this question, are the hardcore Donald Trump supporters.” Hannity again cut in to ask, “Senator, why do you this? Every single time you…you’ve got to stop. Every time I have you on the air, and I ask a legitimate question, you try to throw this in my face. I’m getting sick of it. I’ve had you on more than any other candidate, on radio and TV. So, if I ask you, Senator, a legitimate question to explain to the audience, why don’t you just answer it?”
Cruz then said, “Sean, can I answer your question without being interrupted?” Cruz then talked about the results in Utah, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Wyoming, all of which Cruz has won. He added, “Over 1.3 million people voted in those 5 states. We won all 5. All of this noise and complaining and whining has come from the Trump campaign, because they don’t like the fact that they’ve 5 elections in a row, that Republicans are uniting behind our campaign. So, they’re screaming, on Drudge, and it’s getting echoed, this notion of voterless election. It is nonsense. They are making it up. Over 1.3 million people voted. We won landslides in all 5.”
Cruz continued, “Now, there is a second component, beyond the elections, which is the individual delegates are elected by the people. Donald Trump’s campaign does not know how to organize on the grassroots. And so, when the delegates are elected, conservative activists, real conservative activists show up, and they elect delegates, and we are winning those elections over and over and over again. The Donald Trump campaign doesn’t know what they’re doing. They don’t show up. In Colorado, the Donald Trump team was handing out flyers asking their supporters to vote for a slate of delegates, they included Cruz delegates on their slate. They just — they didn’t even know how type up a piece of paper without getting it wrong. In Washington state, when Washington state elected their delegates, three days before the election, the Donald Trump campaign, in a panic, realized Washington state was getting ready to elect their delegates. They sent out an emergency email to their Washington supporters, but they screwed up, and sent it to their Washington, DC supporters, instead of their Washington state supporters. I cannot help that the Donald Trump campaign does not seem capable of running a lemonade stand. Elections are won by voters and grassroots activists showing up and voting for the candidate they support.”
He further argued that “[N]obody, as I travel the country, nobody is asking me this, other than the Trumpsters, and people repeating it.”
Hannity again asked Cruz to “explain what happens in these moments” with delegates after their states vote. Hannity added to the end of the question, “It’s a simple question. It’s not a Trump question. It’s a question about what’s going to happen. You’re arguing, Kasich is arguing, that this is going to be settled at the convention. And I think people need to understand it. Because, you know, most people don’t.”
Cruz responded by pointing to his recent victories in Utah, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Wyoming. He further stated that the Trump campaign was panicking because they were losing, and “Every time the people vote against them, they scream the election’s been stolen. No, when people vote against you, it means you’ve lost an election.” He then stated that delegates are elected by the people, “and if you want to elect delegates, your supporters come and vote. Every other presidential candidate knows that, and figured this out. And by the way, every presidential candidate has known how to figure this out in every prior cycle.”
He then declared, “The Donald Trump campaign doesn’t know what they’re doing. It’s a Kim Kardashian reality show. And so, in Georgia, they elected their delegates. And conservative grassroots activists showed up, and the conservative grassroots are overwhelmingly with us, so they elected Cruz delegates. That’s the democratic process.”
Hannity then asked, “What if the delegate selection doesn’t represent the will of the people in that particular district or area?” Cruz answered, “Sean, that’s why there’s an election.” Hannity then cut in to say he was asking about the event of a conflict, and “Senator, I don’t know why you’re mad. There’s no reason — I’m asking. I’m just trying to understand it. I’m really having a hard time understanding why you’re getting angry at this.”
Cruz said that he wasn’t mad at all. He then accused Trump’s campaign of trying to distract from real issues, and told Hannity, “And so, when you ask only about the nonsense, how about we ask — you know what people ask me when I travel around? How do we bring jobs back?”
Hannity cut in to say he’s asked Cruz those questions “more than anybody else.” Cruz countered by saying that Trump has refused to debate because he has no concrete proposals. He further stated that he doesn’t care about Trump, and doesn’t want to “talk about the nonsense that he wants to distract us from.”
Hannity again stated that he had talked more about substantive issues with Cruz more than anyone else, and that he’s merely trying to get Cruz to explain how the process him courting delegates in states that have already voted to vote for him on a second ballot, something Hannity said was within the rules, works so the audience can understand it.
Cruz then said, “Sean, it’s not a question of within the rules or not. It’s winning elections. These delegates are elected by the people, and when grassroots conservatives come out, we win. … And every time there’s an election that the conservative grassroots decide, we win.” Cruz further predicted that this dynamic would play out in Cleveland, and that he would get the majority of delegates.
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett