Saturday on CNN’s “Smerconish,” host Michael Smerconish discussed the 2016 Republican presidential primary race and what has led to the rise of the party’s current front-runner, Donald Trump.
Buchanan went in depth about Trump’s appeal and how what he had warned about in the 1990s, when he was a candidate for the White House, has “came to pass.”
Transcript as follows:
SMERCONISH: He worked with three U.S. presidents, he won the 1996 GOP New Hampshire primary, he coined the phrase “silent majority” and to quote the economist, “before Donald Trump there was Pat Buchanan.” Pat joins me know. Thank you, Pat, for being here.
PAT BUCHANAN (R), FMR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be here, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Thursday night a cop in my hometown of Philadelphia was shot by a guy who said he was acting in the name of Islam. For political purposes does it matter if he’s tied to ISIS or is a one off?
BUCHANAN: Well, I think the political effect of that, of course, is going to be to strengthen candidates who are perceived as very tough on illegal immigration, very tough, if you will, on immigration from the Islamic world without vetting. And so I think it tends to help Donald Trump and I would say to some extent Mr. Cruz who both have been very hard line on the issue.
SMERCONISH: Interesting that earlier this week, in fact, I’ll show you a brief clip, Ted Cruz commented on two individuals both refugees from the Middle East who were arrested in connection with terror charges. Roll that clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One, in California, and one, in my hometown in Houston, both were Iraqi refugees. Both came in through the vetting programs that President Obama tells us are perfectly effective for vetting terrorists. One is charged with providing materiel support to ISIS. The other is charged with having travelled to Syria to fight alongside radical Islamic terrorists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Why does Pat Buchanan think that Ted Cruz is less able than Donald Trump to take advantage of these issues?
BUCHANAN: Well, I think this basically – that I think Trump is tremendously identified with the issue, Michael, for the basic reason that, you know, no Muslims are coming into the country. They’re all going to be vetted. Now, that was a statement that’s going to have to be qualified. No doubt about it, but it puts Trump out front on the issue so that when folks think of something like that, they think of Trump, but I do think they would also think of Cruz, but look what happened when those two Syrian refugees came through Greece and turned up in that Paris massacre?
That turned a whole country around, Michael. Now, these two individuals who have been caught that Cruz mentioned have not been apprehended doing some horrible atrocity, but you get people doing those atrocities in this coming year and there’s no doubt it will drive the United States strongly to the right the way Europe is being driven to the right.
SMERCONISH: You like Trump, because he is the Buchanan campaign of ’92 or ’96 incarnate. It’s all about border control, it’s about immigration, trade. Free trade. And non-intervention. Was your timing off, or is he just the better, no disrespect intended, but he is the better messenger on these things?
BUCHANAN: Well, let me say on these issues, Trump has raised the very issues I raised in the early ’90s, 1991-92. I said these trade deals are going to be terrible. We’re going to lose manufacturing jobs. We’re going to lose factories abroad. The real wages of Americans are not going to rise. People are coming across the border. It’s got to be stopped.
What we’ve got now 25 years later, Michael, is proof that what we predicted has come to pass. So Donald Trump and others who are taking up these issues can point out and say, “look, here’s what’s happened.” I mean, even Bernie Sanders. He was back there with me on these trade deals and, of course, he’s running now, and doing extremely well, I think, for a fellow on the far left of the Democratic Party.
SMERCONISH: So assuming arguendo that you were ahead of your time. The question then becomes are there enough remnants of the so-called silent majority left to take Trump all the way to the White House?
BUCHANAN: I think Trump is a, is a very interesting candidate in this sense ou’re – I think he has cross-party appeal. Now, let me give you an example. If I were running this year and I were in Trump’s shoes, I would go into Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan, and I would say, you want to know why your factories left this country? Because of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton with NAFTA and GATT and the WTO.
All those jobs and factories are in China now. Some of them are in Mexico, but they’re the ones that did it. They’re responsible. Now, that’s the appeal of whom? Bernie Sanders. Right now. So this has a cross-party appeal, the issue of, you know, free trade is out, and quite frankly, protecting jobs and protecting factories and these issues are very much in today.
SMERCONISH: When people make comparisons between the campaigns you ran and Donald Trump today, I mean, do you revel in that, or do you say, I’m a deep thinker. People can disagree with Pat Buchanan. Trump doesn’t have the coherence and the logic behind those viewpoints. Or am I wrong?
BUCHANAN: Well, to a degree, yes, you are. In this sense – look, Donald Trump comes out of a different world than I do. He is a successful businessman up until about six months ago. But I’m elated, first he’s gotten into this race, raised issues, shaken these things up. You got 25 million people watching a Republican debate, for heaven’s sake, in the summer of 2015.
Look, my time has come and gone, Michael. You know, it’s a while ago and we did as well as we could at the time, but there’s no doubt he’s doing well and I congratulate him, what he’s doing well on the issues that I really admire.
SMERCONISH: Hey, don’t sell yourself short. You’re tan, you’re rested and you’re ready. Let me ask you one additional question about the Democratic side of the aisle.
BUCHANAN: Buchanan for county supervisor!
SMERCONISH: You reference Bernie Sanders and you know a thing or two about New Hampshire. What happens if Bernie Sanders captures Iowa and New Hampshire? Does it end there? Or all of the sudden is that race entirely recast?
BUCHANAN: I think if he captures Iowa and New Hampshire he’s got Iowa and New Hampshire. The Democratic Party is too much behind Hillary Clinton. She’s got too much money. Too much of a base out there, but I will say this – it will be an issue where Hillary Clinton’s going to have to start addressing these trade deals and inequality and the loss of jobs they produced, and he might be able to pull her to the left. I mean, she’s pulled a little bit to the left, but I think basically, look, the only one that, that can take this nomination away from Hillary Clinton, I think, is a special prosecutor in D.C..
SMERCONISH: Well, Joe Digenova, you heard this week, Digenova said within the next 60 days she could get a knock on the door. Who knows if there’s anything behind that.
BUCHANAN: I’ll believe that when I see it, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Me, too. Pat Buchanan, thank you, sir.
BUCHANAN: Thank you.
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