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Hewitt Knocks Down Charges of GOP Bigotry in Long Exchange With Don Lemon

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Hugh was on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon last night, and had this exchange.

The transcript:

LEMON: “Sunlen Serfaty reporting for us from South Carolina. Thank you very much. I appreciate that. I want to bring in now Hugh Hewitt, host of radio’s The Hugh Hewitt Show, and the author of ‘The Queen, the Epic Ambition of Hillary Clinton and the Coming of the Second Clinton Era.’ Good evening, sir. What do you think of what Donald Trump told 60 Minutes?”

HEWITT: “I think Donald Trump is not a bigot. I don’t believe he wants to spend his time talking about this issue. In fact, when I was on the stage, Don, with Jake and Dana and that enormously successful debate with 24 million people, there wasn’t one bigot on that stage. There isn’t one bigot in the republican field. Some are more artful than others about expressing what Article 6 of the Constitution says, which is, “Anyone born of American parents is eligible to be president.” But I like to remind people, thousands of Americans have gone and fought and died for the freedom of Muslim people in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and we’re now trying to figure out how to stop the savage murder of millions of Muslims and cops and others in the Middle East by the Syrian dictator Assad. So, I think it’s kind of a side-show issue. I interviewed Donald Trump yesterday, I didn’t bring this up. I did get some interesting…”

LEMON: “But, Hugh.”

HEWITT: “Go ahead, Don.”

LEMON: “He seems to be saying in the 60 Minutes interview that there is a problem with Muslims.”

HEWITT: “I didn’t hear it that way at all. I think I heard him saying that the people who attacked the country on 9/11 all were Islamist radicals and that we have to be concerned about Wahhabis Islamist radicalism whether of the Shia or the Sunni variety. And I always ask my guests that, have you read The Looming Tower by noted liberal New Yorker writer, Lawrence Wright, because it traces the Genesis of the al-Khatib Muslim brotherhood radicalism that led to 9/11. But to call that out that as a problem is not to be anti-Muslim. And I believe — and I don’t believe…”

LEMON: “My question is what does that have to do with the original question from the man in the audience that he did not — that he did not take on that the president — he is saying the president is a Muslim. Why doesn’t he just say the president is a Christian, let’s move on?”

HEWITT: “Well, I always say the president is a Christian, but I also say, Don, tonight people will tweet about your show. You will not be defined, Don Lemon is not defined, CNN Tonight is not defined, Hugh Hewitt is not defined by the craziest person or the most ill-liberal person who says they are on our side in any debate. We’re defined by ourselves and Donald Trump and Ben Carson and every republican is defined by themselves. You know, Jeb Bush said tonight he is not for a multi-cultural society. And some people are trying to make that into…”

LEMON: “Let me read that to you. This is his comments.”

HEWITT: “Go ahead.”

LEMON: “He’s on a trail on Iowa. He said, ‘We should not have a multi- cultural society. When you create pockets of isolation, and in some cases, the assimilation process has been retarded, it’s wrong. It limits people’s aspiration.’ It seems kind of strange coming from him because he has a multi- cultural family himself. He has defended his use of Spanish language on the campaign trail and in ads. So, what is going on here, Hugh?”

HEWITT: “Something has been going on for a hundred years. Teddy Roosevelt was the first President to denounce hyphenated Americanism followed by Woodrow Wilson, his political rival on opposite who also denounced hyphenated Americanism. Both Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson now up through the big-hearted — and nobody denies this either. Jeb Bush is a big-hearted man with absolutely zero bigotry in him. I mean, he’s really, he’s like Bergoglio, Pope Francis, he loves everybody. What he’s trying to say is America has to be about Americans coming together. John Kasich made this point on the debate stage as well and most of the republicans do. They’re not about dividing. They’re about bringing together. And I think what Jeb Bush was saying, and I haven’t heard all the remarks, is that Americans have to come together rather than stake their claims to separate ethnic and ideological and racial identities, so that we are first and foremost, bound together by the Declaration Independence and the Constitution. That was Lincoln’s vision, the republican or the party of Lincoln, the Cooper union speech, the second inaugural. These are all the things that I think Jeb Bush and all republicans stand for.”

LEMON: “But I think all census data and everything shows that America is becoming increasingly multi-cultural. So, what does it mean for the Republican Party when you have these issues coming up over and over again. When it comes to allowing people in, trusting people from other places or with different religions?”

HEWITT: “We’re all for it. I think Arthur Brooks at the American Enterprise Institute’s brand-new book ‘The Road to Freedom’ is about being for people. And I’m for everyone coming to this country who believes in free enterprise, who believes in liberty. Only 15 percent of this country are Germans. Six percent are Mexican descent, 1 percent is Swedish descent. I don’t care, Don. I don’t know what your ethnicity is. Mine is as mixed up as a Mongrel. My kids are a complete mix; they are, you know, 15 different ethnicities. This country isn’t about ethnicity. It’s about opportunity. And I think every republican wants to stress that point and they’ll succeed if they do. I do believe the Democratic Party has a vested interest in deepening divisions based upon racial and ideological fault lines in the country. Republicans should be opposite that. I think Jeb Bush was speaking to that today.”

LEMON: “I want to get before you leave, I want to get to talk about sort of the horse race. Let’s talk about this new poll which shows that Trump’s first real erosion, some erosion at least in the support. Do you think he’s going to turn to be a flash in the panel or do you think he’s going to gain his momentum back? Because he was in the 30’s at one point.”

HEWITT: “Oh, no, he is still the leader in every poll. And I think now I’m looking at voters more than candidate. And there are for camps, Don, I wrote this over at tonight. There are the true believers and they’re attached really tightly to their people. Like the Ted Cruz people and the Donald Trump people and the Ben Carson and the Huckabee and the Santorum. There are some Buckley conservatives who want to elect the most conservative republican who is electable. They’re kind of gravitating towards Fiorina and Rubio right now. You’ve got the center, moderate right. That’s Kasich, Christie, and Jeb Bush. Coalition builder, they are looking at the independents in New Hampshire. And, the fact that in South Carolina anyone can vote. And then you’ve got the unique people who are like for Rand Paul or for one of the — George Pataki or one of the unique boutique candidates. They’re all interesting, they’re all moving around. But, you know, Donald Trump is still number one. And someone is going to have to beat him. Maybe that someone is Carly. Maybe it’s Marco Rubio. Maybe it’s Ted Cruz. But it’s not going to be over anytime soon. We will have one candidate by July, and that candidate will be better positioned to lead than Hillary or Joe Biden. That’s what I’m talking about.”

LEMON: “It is true that Carly Fiorina’s numbers are way up since that debate. Hugh Hewitt, thank you. I appreciate it. “

HEWITT: “Always a pleasure, Don, Good to be here.”


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