HH: On the day after another, they called it Western Tuesday, I have advanced the Hillsdale Dialogue yet again to a Wednesday, and I will be replaying it on Good Friday along with my groundbreaking interview with N.T. Wright, N.T. Wright, of course, world class theologian. And on Friday, on Good Friday, I do not work. But Larry Arnn will be working virtually via the replay of this. And Dr. Wright will be joining me to talk about what it is that Christians are remembering on Good Friday. And that will all come on Friday. But it’s the Wednesday after another vote, so Dr. Arnn in his Geneva castle in Switzerland, I look across at him from Lake Lucerne, and we talk to each other as the two last people in Switzerland. Dr. Arnn, how are you?
LA: Well. How are you, Hugh?
HH: I’m good. I’m confused. I’m very confused.
LA: Yeah, yeah. Well, there’s a pattern now, isn’t there? I mean, I looked at the Real Clear Politics averages today, and Trump is about 40%. And Kasich, Cruz gets the lion’s share of the rest, and Kasich gets 10 or something like that, if I remember right. And so you have a frontrunner, and you have some primaries coming up that supports him. And I think Cruz, Trump needs a sweep in California to get to the minimum, to get past the threshold. And so will he get that or not? And California divides its primary, right? It’s not a winner take all state. So the point is, he may, we may go there with somebody with a majority, and in that case, that person will be nominated. And if we don’t, it looks to me like, it depends on how close it is and what the popular general Republican polls say, second, and third, what do the polls say about the strength against the Democratic nominee. And so the delegates will be thinking about those three things, and there’s not much pattern in modern times for this. And so who knows what’s going to happen?
HH: Now I talked this morning with an old friend of yours, Steve Pontell, and we were talking about the fact that a lot of Californians have scattered all over the country now, including Mike Morrell and Larry Arnn and Hugh Hewitt. We’re all over the place, but we were all the property rights gang back in the 80s gathered together. Now, we’re blown to the wind, and you’re up there at the lantern of the north, Hillsdale College. And California ain’t what it once was when it came to politics. It’s a completely different place, because I think your assessment is completely right. Who plays well in the new California, where there will be 54 elections on June 7th, one for every Congressional district and 10 delegates to the statewide winner?
LA: That’s right, and you know, I’ve been, this race, by the way, has been extremely revealing, and I still repeat exciting and invigorating, because I think there have been several candidates in it who have been better than the standard we’ve had since Reagan, and I like them all. And, but the world is really different. So one of Reagan’s strengths running in ’76 against Ford, which he narrowly lost, lost at the convention, is that he was going to bring California with him, and California was, you know, a leaning Republican state into the 1980s, past the 1980s, even. And now, California, you don’t expect anybody’s going to carry that thing on the Republican ticket. So the electoral map has changed in ways that are negative. And in addition, you know, the country has changed, and this change in the electoral map is a reflection of that. And so the candidates, I’ve been watching them in the last ten days. The Republican candidates are adjusting, and mostly, they’re adjusting to Trump. And Trump’s success is a key to the changes in the electorate. Trump is getting back what used to be called Reagan Democrats. And they’ve been lost for a long time. And if you just watch Ted Cruz’ speeches in the last two weeks, they sound more like Trump talking to those people. And I think that’s a learning experience for the Republican Party, and I’m glad it’s happening. And of course, Ted Cruz is as quick as a cat, and he won’t fail to learn things that are, that are revealed in events. So you know, the Republican Party may just have some terrible experience this year. It’s possible with so much up in the air. But on the other hand, there’s a lot of healthy developments, it looks to me like, too.
HH: Now I caveat, I’m not endorsing anyone, and I keep saying this. I was on MSNBC last night, and I refuse to endorse anyone. But I do predict what’s going to happen. And I saw Jeb Bush endorse Ted Cruz this morning on Wednesday.
HH: I have not yet seen Governor Scott Walker act, or Marco Rubio act. But Jeb Bush is a signal. It’s a signal that the establishment can make peace with an outsider if his name is Cruz, but they can’t make peace with an outsider whose name is Trump. Does such a signal matter in places like Wisconsin, where on April the 5th, the critical primary in this entire election is going to be held?
LA: And interesting you say that. You’ll have to explain that. But the answer is Scott Walker would be a big name to conjure with there, of course. And you know, I can now endorse the ones who are not running anymore. I was all over Scott Walker at the beginning. You know, I thought he’d be a great candidate.
LA: And he is a great governor, right? So yeah, that would matter. And see, just remember, Trump is the elephant in the room. And if he weren’t in the room, a lot of this, you know, those guys, Jeb Bush wouldn’t have endorsed Ted Cruz except for Donald Trump.
LA: And so Donald Trump is, you know, leading Ted Cruz, and may deny him the nomination, but he’s been good for him in very powerful ways so far, too.
HH: There’s a working out in the Republican Party. Donald Trump on Monday sat down with the Washington Post editorial board, or maybe it was Tuesday before the Brussels attack and questioned NATO’s enduring ability to continue absent additional contributions from NATO members. And that sent a shudder through some of the Never Never Trump crowd, with whom I am in constant correspondence. And I’m not a Never Trump person. I’ve always said I’ll support the nominee of the party. But some of those who were with me in that camp shook, because they’re Atlanticists. They believe deeply in NATO. Did that bother you, Dr. Arnn?
LA: Yeah, well, things that Trump says about foreign policy sometimes bother me, and sometimes please me. And they sometimes please me very much. That bothers me, because you know, Trump’s running for president, and he just gave a big prepared speech, by the way, to the America Israel Political Action Committee, one of the biggest Jewish groups. And I watched it this afternoon on YouTube, and you know, it’s a set piece. It’s, he read from a teleprompter. It’s a very natural skill. He didn’t look like he was reading from a teleprompter. I just read that he did. And he got a big response. And what he said about Israel, he made AIPAC apologize to Obama, because he was critical of Obama. But he made good comfort with Israel. About NATO, you’d be subtle about that, right? They have a lot of problems over there. I mean, gracious sakes, there’s some danger that they’re simply going to be overwhelmed by this terror threat, because there are so many that one reads over and over, even sometimes from public officials, that there are too many potential terrorists for them to track.
HH: That’s what Thomas Joscelyn wrote in the Weekly Standard yesterday. I read from him. He’s a very fine analyst. Thomas Joscelyn writes that, “The Aamaq News Agency, a propaganda arm of the Islamic State, has claimed responsibility for today’s attack in Brussels.” He wrote this on Wednesday, on Tuesday. “This is hardly surprising. Europe’s counterterrorism defenses have cracked, because there are simply too many threats to track. And unnamed Belgian counterterrorism official made a similar point in a recent interview with BuzzFeed News. Citing this official, BuzzFeed reported that ‘virtually every police detective and military intelligence official in Belgium was focused on the international jihadi investigations.’” Now aside from that being a boon for car thieves and shoplifters, that is a very ominous development.
LA: Yeah, it is, and see, you know, they have declining populations in several of those European countries. And that makes a cause for immigration. And this whole thing, and so they’ve got a lot of immigration, and a lot of people coming in who are potential dangers, and now actual dangers, and they’re fighting for the home front. And of course, they’re going to have to do more, right? I mean, you know, there’s no government, surely one says, there’s no government that will not respond when its citizens are in peril on their own streets. And this has given rise, because you know, immigration is a furious debate in the United States, very much in Europe, too. And you know, in June, there’s a vote in Britain about leaving the EU, and these terror attacks are an element in the debate about that, and will be a factor in the vote.
HH: When we come back from break, we’re going to talk about that and Donald Trump’s announcement of his national security team, as well as his path forward, if there is one, where it goes, and about John Kasich. Don’t go anywhere, America.
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HH: I want to begin with this unusual fact. Ted Cruz won, I believe, 64% of the Utah vote. Now seven out of ten votes in Utah are LDS, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You’ve got some of them up at Hillsdale College. You know who they are and what they value. And one of the things they value is propriety. They do not care much for vulgarity. They simply do not care for a great deal of things that Donald Trump has sometimes been associated with. Donald Trump puts Utah in play for Hillary Clinton. At what point does electability enter into the calculation of the Republican delegates, Larry Arnn?
LA: Well, if you think about the historic part, the history of political parties in America. It’s a very, so much about American government is planned and thought through and debated and set in place deliberately. Political parties are not. And so you know, and the founders, who decried them, made no provision for them in the Constitution, formed them immediately and began to hammer each other, and just like today, by the way, at least as intensely as today. So what are they for? I think they’re for two things. I think they’re for advancing a set of ideas and policies to go with them apart, a party, a part of the citizen body joins together to do that. And the first step is the ideas, but the second step is win elections, right? So those two things are going to be debated at the convention. And winning election is, they’re both necessary, right? It’s no good, no use having the party just to do whatever, you know, whatever, because you’d be satisfied with any outcome, right? But it’s also no use to push your ideas unless you’re trying to win, and you’ve got to win elections. So they’re going to be looking at that. And right now, in the general election polls, which are early and don’t mean much, and are very fluid. You have to put those caveats in. Trump is polling the worst of them, of the ones remaining. And Kasich may be, the last time I looked, a little better than Cruz.
HH: Yes, he is.
LA: So you could, that’ll be a strong argument for Kasich if that persists when the convention comes around in Cleveland. But it’s also true that you can also begin to get a sense of what each of them would have to do to win. Kasich, I think, is the more conventional candidate. He could win because people are sick of all that. That’s one scene that’s broken out in this election big time. Very large numbers of people are sick of all this, right? Then Cruz could win, because I think he’d win with a strategy in the beginning, he said he did, anyway, that we just haven’t had the courage to stand up consistently for the things Reagan was for. And if we did do that, we could win. And I, myself, doubt that that’s true. And I don’t know whether Ted really believed that or not. I just have heard him say it. But because, let’s just look at the electoral map. It’s just much more difficult than it was in the 80s. and the people’s relationship to the government has altered in various ways. So what Cruz has to do is hold all of the elements of the traditional Republican vote. He’s got to get them out better than before. And he’s got to break through, just as Trump does, with the Reagan Democrats. And he’s talking like that, right?
HH: He has to persuade them that former Secretary of State Clinton is a dreadful candidate, which is not a hard sell.
LA: Yeah, yeah, and I think not. And you know, she’ll be, she’ll be greeted with sunshine when she’s nominated, although she may well be greeted with an arrest warrant somewhere down the line.
LA: (laughing) Which is not the sunniest thing to happen in a day, but yeah, she’ll be, she’ll have a lot of strength, but I don’t think she’s a great candidate. And eight years of this, isn’t that, just look at the numbers who are turning out for the Democrat versus the Republican primary. There’s just a lot more energy in the Republican primary, as there was much more energy when Obama was nominated.
HH: And look at Brussels yesterday, and I even brought this up yesterday. Hillary Clinton is the architect of Libya, which is the surrogate state for ISIS now. It’s their colony in the way that the Greeks used to go off and plant colonies, that ISIS has now planted a colony in Libya, and it’s growing stronger, and that’s Hillary Clinton’s colony. Does that matter in a general election?
LA: Well, you know, especially because of these two guys, if it’s one of them two, I don’t know what Kasich would do, although Kasich is a very salty guy.
LA: You know, he’s got plenty of spit. But I don’t think that there’s anything about her that is subject to attack that is not, that will fail to be attacked. I think that these guys are going to go after her hard. And I think she’ll, let me tell you an interesting thing I noticed. Right now, Obama is…
HH: Hold it until after the break. Hold it until after the break. I’ll be right back with Dr. Larry Arnn. He’s noticed an interesting thing, so he must have been out of Michigan. Don’t go anywhere, America. Dr. Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College will be right back.
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HH: And he promised us before we went to break that he’d notice an interesting thing, and that means he must have been outside of the Wolverine State. What was it that you noticed, Dr. Arnn?
LA: Yeah, it was the decrepitude of Ohio.
LA: (laughing) No, it was, Bill Clinton, first of all, Obama approval ratings are above 50% right now, a little bit.
LA: And that’s interesting, right? He just looks better compared to all these guys scuffling at each other, I think, maybe. Whatever the cause of it, he is. But Bill Clinton gave a speech last week in which he said we can’t, we have to get rid of these terrible last eight years…
LA: …and the Bush years, too, right?
HH: So it was intentional. It was not a misstatement.
LA: No, he developed the point. And you know, I think that those two, the Clintons, have a political partnership, right? I think they worked together for a long time, and they do that very well. I think she’s staking out a ground in opposition to Obama. And it’s notoriously they don’t like each other, and you know, friends of mine have thought Obama’s going to let her be prosecuted. And I don’t believe that for a minute. I think politics, you know, politicians are like nations, right? They have allies more than friends. And I think he wants her to win, and he’s sort of endorsed her through his press secretary…
LA: …because that’s the way to preserve the stuff that he’s done, right? But having said that, she is finding it advantageous to mark out a ground separate from him, and that’s another confirmation of the fact that people are tired of all this. And of course, there is a Republican opportunity because of that.
HH: All right, now let me conclude by talking about, we’re talking originally on the Wednesday after Western Tuesday when Ted Cruz won Utah and Donald Trump won Arizona, and we’re looking forward to April 5th in Wisconsin, which will be a huge deal, and we’ll follow what Scott Walker does. But Ted Cruz has underperformed among Evangelicals. And this will rebroadcast on Good Friday, among the holiest days in the Christian calendar. And Hillsdale is itself a Christian university, though not explicitly allied with a denomination. It’s probably a little more Catholic than it is Evangelical. It has its Jews, it has its Mormons, it has its non-believers. But what do you make of the failure of Ted Cruz to solidify the Evangelical vote? And do you think that changes now that the field is pretty doggone clear of everyone but Ted Cruz competing for that vote?
LA: Well, you know, Ralph Reed wrote an interesting article about that, I think, in the Wall Street Journal. Ralph Reed is the, you know, was the head of the Christian Coalition for a long time, and a very smart guy. And he said, you know, it’s kind of overplayed how they vote, because they vote on a lot of other reasons than just their faith. And so they will, you know, first of all, you’ve got a leg up if you’re a serious Christian, and Donald Trump is less obviously, he professes his Christian faith, by the way, and I’m not the one to question that.
LA: But Cruz has pushed hard for the Evangelicals. And one would think they would do, he would do better with them as time goes on, but so far, he has not done nearly as well as expected.
HH: And to what do you attribute that?
LA: Well, I think that people, you know, I think in the end, I think I attribute it to the fact that people are rational. I think that they think about all kinds of things when they vote for president of the United States, and their faith is one of them. And so when you get three guys up there who say they’re against abortion, three guys up there who say that they’re going to protect religious liberty absolutely, and I think Kasich says that a little weaker than the other two. I’ll even tell you what I mean. He said, you know, if somebody wants to buy a cupcake, sell them a cupcake.
HH: He told that to me, yes. He told me that.
LA: Yeah, and then, that’s right, and in the next debate, he qualified that some, right?
LA: If you’ve got a serious religious ground, you know, you and I have talked about this, right? If you want to, if you’re asked to spend your life participating, you know, in your commercial enterprises, in ceremonies that you, with which you greatly disagree, then why should you be made to do that, right? A lot of people sell cupcakes. So that’s what I think about the issue. And Kasich is closer to that now. Well, those are big hot button issues for Christian people of every stripe, when they’re serious about it. And so everybody is pretty good on that, right? And that means that then there’s other things that come into it, too. And that’s really what Ralph Reed’s article says.
HH: And everybody is, and it’s a good place to conclude. I think everyone is following this very closely. They know what is being said, and they understand the differences between the candidates. Do you agree with me on that?
LA: Oh, yeah. I adore the fact that you can get so much information, you can watch everything directly. I adore the fact, Hugh, that you and your colleagues have comported yourselves well in these debates, not trying to make yourself the story or the filter for the American people. And I think that’s all very healthy. And I think people are paying a very great deal of attention.
HH: I hope that Trump, Cruz and Kasich would make their way to Hillsdale for a conversation. I don’t know if that’s in the works or not. But it would seem to me to be in their best interest to continue to talk in public among themselves. What do you think about that?
LA: Well, there, you know, there seems to be a judgment that Trump is, doesn’t want so many debates. We have invited them once, and we didn’t get them, just the calendar was so crowded. And also, by the time, you know, we thought the week before the Michigan primary would be a great thing. But the polls showed that somebody was, you know, Trump was going to win Michigan by a bunch, so everybody, then, has got less reason to go. And they had that Fox debate in Detroit, which was almost at Hillsdale, but we didn’t make that work.
HH: But you would think that before California votes on 6/7, they ought to come out there and talk about not just immigration but trade, agriculture, the water crisis, endangered species, the unfunded pension liabilities, which are the hidden anchor around the neck of this state. There’s so much to talk about in California, and it will decide the convention.
LA: They should, and I’ll add a point. Just, you know, here’s what my underlying theory of politics is. If the country is healthy, people take their citizenship seriously. And that means that the country is not a church. And so you have to protect your religious freedom if you’re a Christian as a very first priority. But if you think it’s protected, there’s other stuff. Well, why don’t Hispanics and all these other sub-groups, why don’t they think like that, too? And I like it about the campaigns that remain, especially Trump and Cruz, I like it that they talk to the American people as a people. And they’re not saying I’m going to do this group, and I’m going to do that group. And I like that. And they talk about the interest, the principles, the institutions and the interests of the United States of America.
HH: Great way to end this week. Thank you for joining me early, Dr. Arnn, and again on Good Friday. Have a wonderful Easter, and a Happy Easter to all in the Arnn household.
End of interview.