Jeffrey Lord, contributing editor to the American Spectator and a CNN political commentator, joined Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow on Tuesday morning to discuss the race for the Republican presidential nomination between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and the prospects for each candidate in the general election.
Lord thought Cruz’s fatal flaw in the general election would be his inability to carry the Northeastern states, a feat Trump might be able to accomplish.
Recalling that Ronald Reagan overcame a 30-point polling deficit to defeat Jimmy Carter in 1980 by winning in the Northeast, Lord said, “He carried New York State, he carried my home state of Pennsylvania, he carried Massachusetts, for heaven’s sakes. I’m not sure that Ted Cruz has that ability to do this, and this ‘New York values’ business, I don’t think helped him. I do think that Donald Trump does have that ability.”
For that reason, Lord advised Trump and Cruz to think about joining forces. “I think that there should be a Trump-Cruz alliance. I’ve suggested that Ted Cruz should be his Vice President.”
Lord said he was “amused” at the argument Trump was too cozy with Democrats like Hillary Clinton before he entered Republican presidential politics, because the same was once said of Reagan, before the conventional wisdom of the day re-framed him as a right-wing extremist.
Referring to a YouTube audio clip from 1948 that has Reagan endorsing Harry Truman for President and Hubert Humphrey for Senator from Minnesota, Lord noted that the “Harry Truman values” Reagan endorsed included single-payer health care.
“He himself later described himself as a ‘hemophiliac liberal,’ and he was,” Lord said of Reagan with a laugh. “People evolve. People change. Was Donald Trump there at one point in his life? Yes. Is he there now? No, he’s not. If all of this were true, he could have run for President as a Democrat, and he’d probably be beating Hillary.”
Lord said Trump was making an effort to catch up in the delegate game, where Ted Cruz has been doing a much better job of wooing uncommitted delegates and getting supporters into key positions. He cited a report from Matt Boyle of Breitbart News on some smart moves by Trump’s new convention manager, Paul Manafort, who “took a page out of the Reagan playbook from 1980” in Michigan.
“I do think that Paul Manafort, whom I know a little bit from years ago, is exactly the kind of person you have to have here, and I think the Trump folks are getting their act together on this,” said Lord.
Marlow noted that Trump’s delegate struggles, especially the debacle in Colorado, were not only a stumbling block in his quest to reach 1,237 delegates and lock up the nomination before the convention, but also seriously undercut Trump’s campaign appeal as a skilled deal-maker who hires all the best people to handle the details.
“This is the first time he’s ever run for office, so I do think that he probably took a little getting up to speed here,” Lord noted. “But, you know, he’s there. I think they’re going to do this, and I think they’ll be able to accomplish this. Paul is an exceedingly accomplished person, when it comes to this kind of thing.”
“You can do a lot with these delegates here, that you can’t do with public officials in other capacities to woo them,” he explained, recalling the story of how an undecided delegate to the 1976 Republican convention found himself dining with Queen Elizabeth at the Ford White House by way of inducement.
Marlow noted that the bitter feud over Cruz’s sweep of Colorado delegates, using tactics Trump’s campaign derides as “unfair” – while Team Cruz points out that the rules were changed and posted clearly for all to see, last summer – has produced flashpoints like Cruz taking the powerful Drudge Report to task for biased reporting, and Trump-supporting Border Patrol agents describing Colorado voters as “disenfranchised.”
Lord, who supports Trump, said he could see merit in the arguments advanced by both sides in the Colorado battle. “I don’t think that that system was particularly wise, just in general, no matter who the candidates were,” he said of Colorado’s odd rules. “Somewhere along the line, I heard an audio clip of people jumping up, they had something like ten seconds to say what they were for. I just don’t think that that’s very smart, in general.”
“That said, you do have to know the rules, when you go into these situations, and play them to the max,” he continued. “Clearly this wasn’t done. So there’s a problem there, for the people who didn’t do it, and in this case it turns out to be the Trump campaign. Lesson learned, I think.”
He observed that the delegate rules are “enormously complicated” and different all over the country, citing the situation in his home state of Pennsylvania where Republicans are expected to vote for delegates based only on their names, with no idea which candidate they support. This makes it vital for the campaigns to reach out to voters and make sure they know which delegates to select.
“These are the kinds of things that every campaign really has to bear down and understand, in fifty different versions,” said Lord. “I do think the Trump campaign has had a bit of a problem with it, but with the arrival of Paul Manafort, they are beginning to get this under control.”
Looking ahead, Lord expected the backlash against the Establishment, especially on issues like immigration where the clear wishes of the public are wildly at variance with the Establishment’s position, to continue dominating the campaign.
He mentioned the Boston Globe’s controversial “parody” front page this week, which he dismantled in detail at the American Spectator as “reflective exactly of both liberal hysteria and the bald hypocrisy that infects the left on a massive scale.”
“The liberal media is just foaming at the mouth,” Lord declared. “I call it, as do some other people, ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome.’” As in his American Spectator piece, he noted that liberal organs like the New York Times were very enthusiastic about effective border security and deportations in the Eisenhower era, but “now, all of a sudden, Donald Trump is proposing the same thing, and you know, he’s a racist.”
“The country is at stake, and I think that’s why you see such passion on the part of Trump supporters, and for that matter Cruz supporters,” he said. “They really feel that the Establishment has screwed things up. The ‘Ruling Class,’ as the saying goes. And they want to get things under control here. I mean, the debt – Donald Trump has said to me, personally, that we’re about $20 trillion in debt, if we get to twenty-four, he thinks the country could collapse economically.”
“I think he’s right,” Lord continued. “If you think the Great Recession, so-called, was a big deal, this would be a disaster here. And we’ve got to have people who are not in a normal political game-playing mode to take this on, because otherwise it’s not going to happen.”
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You can listen to the full interview with Jeffrey Lord below: