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Dr. Larry Arnn Reacts To The Wisconsin Primary

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HH: I want to alert my audience that at this time each week, you’ll hear from either Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, or one of his faculty colleagues, as we talk about the great ideas and issues of the day, and of the past 3,000 years of Western Civilization. All of the Hillsdale Dialogues, as we call these hours, are collected at They have been running for four years now. We began with Homer, and we got up to Lincoln when we took a detour into American politics 2016 because of necessity. Dr. Arnn has been in many of those conversations, but they are all there, as are all the free online courses of Hillsdale College, which you can find at, where they’re all for free, absolutely free. You can also sign up for Imprimis, the news digest, the speech digest of the college, which is sent out to three million people every single month. That’s for free. It is the lantern of the North. Hillsdale College is branded now in America as the place you go if you’re serious about the Constitution and saving the city. Dr. Arnn, welcome to the first edition. You haven’t been up this early in years. You’re an academic.

LA: Yeah, I keep hearing different noises outside. I think there may be birds here.

HH: (laughing) So Dr. Arnn, for the benefit of the new people who are tuning in, tell them about Hillsdale College. We’ve got lots of new people. This is a brand new show to many people all across the fruited plain. You’ve been on with Dr. Bennett many times, but I don’t know if they’ve actually figured out where Hillsdale is and what it does.

LA: Oh, good. Okay, well, Hillsdale College is a 172 year old liberal arts college that is different from most in two main ways, I’d say. One is it doesn’t take any money from the government, indirect or direct, state or federal or local. And that means every transaction in Hillsdale College is private. And that changes our relationship with everybody we deal with, especially our students. The transaction is between us and them, and their parents and them. The second thing that’s different is it’s old-fashioned in this way. College was about the same from maybe the year 1000 until about a hundred years ago in that we thought there were fundamental things to learn, and if you learned those things, you could understand what you are, what your freedom is, and how you’re supposed to live. And most colleges don’t teach that stuff anymore, and we do. And that means that every student half the time is taking the same courses as every other student in Hillsdale College.

HH: Including two NFL starters and a couple of Supreme Court law clerks, and a whole bunch of military officers.

LA: Yeah, it’s a fancy pants college, and it’s got a lot of excellent students. It’s hard to get in. And the kids do very well. And so if you’re a big time football player, like Jared Veldheer of the Arizona Cardinals, then you’ve got to do what the kids do who go to Yale Law School and Chicago Law School, and go clerk on the Supreme Court. And they do the same things and they know each other, and they’re friends, and when they get together, they have something to talk about.

HH: You have also built a community of like-minded people who are not undergraduates across the United States. In fact, I think you’re speaking in Portland and Seattle this week. You may be in Phoenix. You go out and about to talk about the Constitution. They subscribe to Imprimis. They listen to these dialogues. And they actually support the ideals of the college. It’s really kind of a unique community.

LA: It is. There’s been a million students now registered for, discrete individuals, registered for our online courses. We have 13 charter schools that are operating under our guidance. They’re all classical. They’re in seven states. There are three more chartered, and we hope to get to fifty. There’s a lot, you know, at the college, we have a monthly publication, Imprimis, that you can get for free. And it goes to about three and a half million people. It’s really stupid. And if you, it costs more than a $1.50 to do that. And we, so we don’t give your name to anybody else, and you don’t have to give us any money to get that publication. Since 1844, the college has thought that it ought to serve the cause of Constitutional government. And since the middle of the 19th Century, it’s found dramatic ways to do that, and it has them now.

HH: And when it was called upon to serve in the Civil War, I like to tell people this, the college emptied of its young men.

LA: It, so we think that Yale, among non-military colleges, had more students in the Civil War, in the Union Army, in absolute terms, than we did. But we had a higher percentage than they, and we think in absolute terms, more than anybody else. And that was because it was a freedom-loving college. It was an abolitionist college. It’s devoted to Christian faith, to high learning, to Constitutional government, and to the building of high character in its students. Those are its four purposes named in its founding articles. And we pursue those today, and that’s, you know, since we’re going to talk about politics today, the first platform that Abraham Lincoln was elected president on, the platform that formed the Republican Party, was written by about 12 people, and two of them were faculty members at Hillsdale College.

HH: A couple more introductions. There are statues around your beautiful campus, much more beautiful in the summer than in January when I am frequently invited to come to Hillsdale College in January, but what are those statues about? And who do they represent? And why have they been chosen?

LA: Yeah, that was a crazy idea of mine. We have a great, by Laredo Taft, we have a great 19th Century war memorial to our young men who fought in the Civil War. And we have a tremendous art department at the college. And I’ve always thought there should be a better bust of Churchill and of Lincoln. And so I said to our sculptor, Tony Frudakis, I said what would it take to get that done? And he said you just did it. And I said gosh, am I not powerful? So that led to us making statues of people from three periods – from the founding of America, we have George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and we’re about to do James Madison, probably going to put that at the Kirby Center in Washington. Then in the Civil War period, we have our war memorial, and we have Abraham Lincoln, and we have Frederick Douglass underway. Frederick Douglass spoke on our campus twice. And then in the modern period, and they’re in three different sections of the quads of the campus, in the modern period, we have Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill. And those are all people who were beloved at the campus, or who had a connection to the campus. Margaret Thatcher was on the campus more than once. Ronald Reagan was on the campus more than once. Winston Churchill was not, but there was much love of him at the time.

HH: His papers are there now, though.

LA: Well, Martin Gilbert’s, Sir Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill, was a teacher of mine, and the college is the publisher and completer of that biography. We’re doing the final document volumes right now. And so Martin Gilbert’s papers, which include photocopies of a large part of Churchill’s archive, are coming to the campus. Most of it’s there, but more is coming in two weeks, I’m told. So it’s arriving at the campus now.

HH: And a very last bit of Hillsdale detail. You convene gatherings there. In fact, journalists are welcome there, which is extraordinary, given your love of liberty. But they are welcome there in great numbers, as are the public, to participate in, what, triannual, quarterly gatherings?

LA: Yeah, we have, we have a lot of off-campus events. The college is an unusual thing. It reaches out to the country on a very large scale. And if you think about it for a minute, there are two reasons for that. One is it’s always done that, and you know, way back in the past, it always had a big love for the country and wished to teach the things it knows to the country. But then the other is our competitors all get something like 30% of their revenues from the government. That means they have a national base of support. And we don’t get that money. And so we, and you know, our, if you come to a Hillsdale College event, you’ll find out nobody will ask you for money. And it won’t be expensive to come. We want you to learn about the college. And if you learn something, we’ve served our purpose. And if you decide in exchange to give us some money, we’ll be glad.

HH: And I would encourage all of you who are deeply endowed, or those of you who are parsimonious and poor to contribute to the life of this college. It is a lantern lighthouse institution in the North. And whether it is $50 million dollars that you want to give and build them an extraordinary building that you want to call the Hewitt Center For Excellence in Everything, or you want to give them $5 dollars to help get Imprimis out there, that is great. All of that can be done. But all of it is for free, including these dialogues, all of which have been collected at And when we come back, we are going to talk about Senator Ted Cruz’ victory speech on Tuesday night in Wisconsin, and Donald Trump’s return to the ring on Wednesday in New York. Stay with us. Dr. Arnn is next on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

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HH: This week, we are talking about rhetoric, because Dr. Arnn pays attention, very closely, to what candidates for office say, as do I. And we are both in Switzerland, meaning that we do endorse any candidate. We watch them from afar, and we comment. This week, Ted Cruz, Senator Cruz, has been on the campus of Hillsdale College, gave a speech after he won a resounding victory in Wisconsin, which I thought we’d go over. We have abridged the applause. We’ve taken the applause out of it for timing sake. But Dr. Arnn, let’s plunge in and then get your commentary on what he’s saying.

LA: Okay.

TC: God bless the great state of Wisconsin. What an incredible victory tonight. And thank you to your tremendous governor, Governor Scott Walker, for his principled, passionate leadership. Tonight is a turning point. It is a rallying cry. It is a call from the hard-working men and women of Wisconsin to the people of America. We have a choice, a real choice. The national political terrain began to change two weeks ago. In the state of Utah, we won 69% of the vote, a landslide election, winning every single delegate in the state. Then, just three days ago in Colorado, two Congressional districts voted. Once again, they elected six delegates, and of those six delegates, we won all six.

HH: So Dr. Arnn, this is a fairly standard opening, a recap of success. Nothing surprising here, correct?

LA: That’s correct. He’s in the middle of it. You know, he’s got to, first of all, it looks, your theme now for weeks, I will say to your new listeners, you think that there’s going to be a brokered convention, that nobody’s going to get the votes.

HH: Contested, contested, open.

LA: Contested convention. And I think that that’s, you know, it looks a lot more likely after Wisconsin. And so both Cruz and Trump are trying to establish the credibility to actually get there, and to the 1,237 delegates they need. And if they don’t get there, then to say that they’ve got the wave going for them, and they’re the ones who can carry the party to victory in November.

HH: More Ted Cruz.

TC: And then two days ago in North Dakota, we had another tremendous win. They elected their delegates. Of the delegates who had specified their support, 18 are supporting our campaign. One is support Donald Trump. 18-1, I’ll take that ratio any day of the week. And now tonight, here in Wisconsin, a state that just three weeks ago the media had written off, three weeks ago, the media said Wisconsin was a perfect state for Donald Trump. But the hard-working men and women of Wisconsin stood and campaigned tirelessly to make sure that tonight was a victory for every American.

HH: Now Dr. Arnn, I don’t know if you teach rhetoric at Hillsdale, but what was a wonderful bit of rhetoric there was the media said this, the media said that, the media said this. And so you combine not only your success, but with lowering expectations, exceeding the expectations, and kicking the media, which is never bad.

LA: Yeah, well, kicking the media is an excellent boost. But that’s right. In other words, if you supply a context for an achievement, you can make it look higher. And it is high. You know, Trump was ahead significantly a month ago in Wisconsin. And that actually turned around in the a week. And they were saying that, you know, the theories of Donald Trump are changing all the time, because he’s new, and because he’s so, just a dramatic influence. But one of the theories was in the purple states, he’ll be really strong, and Cruz will only be good in the red states. And you know, Cruz has thumped Donald Trump in Wisconsin, a purple state.

HH: And very, very thumpingly tumped. When we come back, more of Ted Cruz and a little of Donald Trump. We are Switzerland. We are playing the speeches of both Ted Cruz from Tuesday night, Donald Trump from Wednesday, with Dr. Larry Arnn. He is president of Hillsdale College. All things Hillsdale available at All things Hillsdale are always free. And all of these dialogues from four years now, Stay tuned.

—- – — –

HH: Let’s go back to Ted Cruz’ very present Tuesday night speech. Here is the Senator from Texas winning in Wisconsin.

TC: Four very different states – Utah, Colorado, North Dakota, Wisconsin. Four victories. So just how significant is tonight? Well, just today, our campaign has raised over $2 million dollars. People all over the country going to,,

HH: Can we stop for a moment there? I love the mixing of the practical political with the high, which is about to come, Dr. Arnn. That’s a skill set.

LA: Yup. Well, he’s, the great Phil Gramm, a friend of mine, Senator Phil Gramm, I think, got that wrong. And he thinks he got that wrong when he ran for president unsuccessfully, because he just, he talked too much about his credibility, about how many people were coming to him, about how much money he was raising, about where he was raising it. You’re right, in this, and you need that stuff, because people want to vote for a winner. They want to win in November. But you’re right. Cruz mixes those in artfully.

HH: More of it right now.

LA: Contributing $10 dollars or $25 dollars or $50 dollars, we’ve had over 1.3 million contributions. In the last two weeks, and in the coming days when Colorado and Wyoming finish voting, we are likely to have gained over 100 delegates on Donald Trump. And as a result of tonight, as a result of the people of Wisconsin defying the media, defying the pundits, I am more and more convinced that our campaign is going to earn the 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination. Either before Cleveland, or at the convention in Cleveland, together, we will win a majority of the delegates, and together, we will beat Hillary Clinton in November.

HH: Now Dr. Larry Arnn, yesterday’s New York Times opened up in the morning with a story that said GOP donors eager to defeat Donald Trump learn to love Ted Cruz. And I always say this Lose with Cruz nonsense is overstated. But he is clearly gathering strength, and he is clearly making an argument here that he can win in Cleveland, and win in the fall.

LA: Yeah, it is, and it’s a see-saw. It looked for a while like it wasn’t going to be like that. It looked for a while like Trump had this thing done. It doesn’t look like that anymore. And Cruz is a very serious candidate, and you have to give him a lot of credit. He’s been skillful through these, you know, amazing reversals every week that has taken person at a person, including favorite Marco Rubio out of the race. So he’s done an excellent job. But you know, we’re going back east now. He’s campaigning yesterday in New York. And the story in the New York Post is about how nobody came to Cruz’ think except some protesters. So Trump is still strong, too. And trump is ahead. And so there’s an amazing unity of people in the party who don’t want Trump, and they’re hammering him. But they haven’t killed him, yet.

HH: No, by far, not. In fact, one more Cruz except, then to the Trump. This is the specifics of the policy that I found so interesting from Ted Cruz.

TC: Tonight was a bad night for Hillary Clinton. It was a bad night in the Democratic primary, and it was an every worse night for her in the Republican primary. We are winning, because we’re uniting the Republican Party. Of the 17 candidates who started this race, a terrific, talented, dynamic field, five have now endorsed this campaign – Rick Perry and Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina and Wisconsin’s own Governor Scott Walker. When you toss in Senator Mike Lee and Mark Levin, we’ve got the full spectrum of the Republican Party coming together and uniting behind this campaign. In 1960, accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination, John F. Kennedy observed, “I think the American people except more from us than cries of indignation and attack. The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us to see through that darkness to a safe and sane future.” As Winston Churchill said on taking office, “If we open a quarrel between the present and the past, we shall be in danger of losing the future.” The same is true here.

HH: Dr. Arnn, you cannot be unhappy when you get Winston Churchill into the Ted Cruz victory speech.

LA: That’s a very great thing. Churchill said that on June 18th, 1940, in the famous Finest Hour speech. It’s not quite, he said things like that when he took office. He took office on May the 10th. And what the context was, and this is very promising from Cruz, but the context was, for Churchill, was the Labour Party, the opposition, wanted to hold hearings, investigations, into who was responsible for us not being ready for this war that had just broken out. And Hitler was attacking, you know, France by the middle of June. France was out of the war. So Churchill said that thing. He said if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we will lose the future. And then he went on to say, “No one has greater standing to complain about this than I do, because I was the one who gave the warnings. And I surrender all that.” And the reason that’s important right now is if you go back three months in this race, the Republican Party is swelling in these primaries. And the numbers who are joining it are larger than the Democrats by a lot. And the gains are much more dramatic. And it’s like when Obama first ran. I mentioned on your show that I read from David Brooks, I think, that when you go to, in the 2008 campaign when Obama was elected, when you go to an Obama event, it’s like going to a World Series event. And when you go to a Republican event, any of the challengers, it’s like a AAA baseball. Well, the Trump events, especially but Rubio and Cruz, too, have been big deals. And so there’s a lot of force coming into the Republican Party. And the great question is can it be united into a campaign?

HH: And that is the great question, because across the stage from him is Donald Trump, who is very good at this. And I want to play a little bit to maintain our Switzerland status, of Donald Trump on Wednesday responding, cut number four.

DT: Can you hear me? Can anybody not hear me clearly? All right. I want to thank my brother, my cousins, my nephews, my beautiful daughter-in-laws, my son, wonderful Ivanka, as you know, they all came to see this. I mean, she, they can’t even believe it. You know, you know, Lyin’ Ted Cruz came today. He couldn’t draw a hundred people, a hundred people. He could, I’m telling you, in fact, it was a big headline today in the New York Post. He couldn’t draw a hundred people. Now do you remember, do you remember, do you remember during the debate when he started lecturing me on New York values like we’re no good, like we’re no good? And I started talking to him about the World Trade Center, the bravery, the incredible bravery of everybody, our police, our firemen, our everybody. You better believe it. You better believe it.

HH: Better believe it, Larry Arnn. He’s very good at this. We have two minutes left. He’s very good at this.

LA: Yeah, he is very good. And you know, I made the comment on previous talks about all this that Trump has had some very serious things to say. And some of those things, which especially has to do with the abuse, the lawlessness and abuse of executive power in the American bureaucracy is an old theme of Trump’s, and he speaks well about it. He says a lot of awkward things, too, and a lot of, he says many things that I don’t agree with. But he’s a talented man, and the Republican Party needs to find a way to get his voters, whether by nominating him or not, needs to find a way to get his voters into the party. And if they do, they’re a majority party. And so there’s huge promise here, and that’s one reason people are so downcast about the degree of the division. But I will say it’s too early to judge whether that will persist or not.

HH: That’s unusual, because, and we have a minute left. I have said after they played that for me on MSNBC and they asked me for a reaction, Brian Williams said what do you think, and I said I think that significantly diminishes the possibility of a fusion ticket.

LA: (laughing) Yeah, it does, but you know, they always say bad, you know, politics are, they work a certain way, right? And they’ll be friendlier when it’s in their interest, including right now.

HH: Lyin’ Ted Cruz, though, isn’t that a tattoo that sticks, Lyin’ Ted Cruz?

LA: Yeah, sure it does, but you know, I mean, you want me to read you the quote where Winston Churchill praises Neville Chamberlain?

HH: (laughing)

LA: (laughing)

HH: Exactly, that’s why we do the Hillsdale Dialogue, America, every single week at this time. That’s why we do it. Context matters, even for a campaign as raucous and as disruptive as this one.

— – — –

HH: I want to get in a little bit more Donald Trump in order to get more expansive comments from my co-inhabitant of Switzerland. This is, Dr., this is Donald Trump on Wednesday.

DT: So I looked at him and started talking about our incredible police, our incredible firefighters, our incredible people, our unbelievable construction workers. Who could have done that? Who could have rebuilt that hole? There was never anything like it in this country, the worst attack in the history of the United States. The bravery that was shown was incredible. We all lived through it. We all know people that died, and I’ve got this guy standing over there looking at me talking about New York values with scorn in his face, with hatred, with hatred of New York. So folks, I think you can forget about him. Forget about him. He is Lyin’ Ted. You know, I came up with the idea. But you have to spell it right. It’s L-Y-I-N-‘, Lyin’ Ted. The Bible held high, he puts it down, and then he lies. You know the wonderful thing? He lies like crazy, but most of the time, I win the Evangelical vote. The Evangelicals, the Christians like Donald Trump. I’m a straight shooter. I shoot straight.

HH: All right, Dr. Arnn, a number of things. With hatred, he attributes to Ted Cruz, hatred of New York values, Lyin’ Ted, they chant, he says Bible held high, then he puts it down and he lies, a little bit of rhetorical brilliance there, right?

LA: Yeah, and you know, a lot of Evangelicals are apparently voting for Trump. And that was, you know, that was a big moment in the debates when, because Trump scored major points there after Cruz said New York values. And that’s a point, isn’t it? Doesn’t that, that means something. We’ve got red states and we’ve got blue states. And in their current confirmation, the Democrats are enjoying what they love to call, their pollsters and their pundits, the blue wall. In the last six elections, the Democratic nominee has carried enough states all six times to almost get the nomination. And that’s the blue wall. And New York is part of the blue wall. And so could Donald Trump put New York in contest? And if you think about one part, one big group of the pundits, they say well, what we’ve got to do is put the Reagan coalition back together. And Lord, I long for that. I even watched one of these nomination victory speeches by Ronald Reagan last night just for context. Gosh, he was good. I mean, you just miss him so much, you know? But the thing was, one of Ronald Reagan’s advantages when he was running for president was that if he was the nominee, we knew we would carry California.

HH: Right.

LA: Who thinks we’re going to carry California today, right?

HH: Right.

LA: So this reaching out that’s going on in the Trump campaign, and this, and that is implicit, the implicit issue in this argument that’s opened up between Trump and Cruz about New York values is extremely important for the future of the country.

HH: Now I’ve got to ask you about the last question, because this came up earlier this week with George Will. I pointed out, my opinion, that if it is Cruz-Clinton, that will be the greatest, sharpest distinction between two non-incumbents since 1952. Will countered that even Ike and Adlai Stevenson were not really that different. You’d have to go back further in time to find a sharper distinction. And he averred then that perhaps that means we will have a campaign of ideas.

LA: Yeah, well, one of the things I like about these primaries, and I, you know, it’s possible that I’ve just grown so old and cranky that I don’t care about fighting anymore, but this has been an extremely substantive and fundamental race. There hasn’t been any room for anybody to get by on generalities, right? You know, people accuse Donald Trump of that, but build a wall and make Mexico pay for it is pretty specific.

HH: Right.

LA: And so it’s a fight, right? And so I think that there’s a lot of promise here, and I have no better idea than anybody whether it’s going to be realized. I think we’re going to know a lot more about that in August or September, really. But just remember, Ronald Reagan was so far behind in the 1980 Republican convention that the party was panicking. I’ve read that he was down 20 points in the polls. None of these candidates are down as much as that against Hillary.

HH: No, they’re not, and some of them are ahead, Ted Cruz in one poll, and John Kasich in many, so we will follow up on that. Dr. Arnn, welcome to the mornings. You’re sharp in the mornings, for someone who…

LA: Congratulations, Hugh.

HH: Did you stay up all…

LA: The only one I’ve heard complaining is Duane. (laughing)

HH: Well, he always complains. I have three Sleepy’s and a Grumpy here in the morning, the four dwarves. So it’s always fun. Dr. Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College, thank you. for all things Hillsdale. Go right now, sign up for Imprimis. Take the Constitutional Online course. Head over to and binge listen from Homer to the present. And we’ll be back next week with more of this brand new Hugh Hewitt Show.

End of interview.


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