because he had sort of taken a pledge to be a Reaganite on those issues
in 1980, and he had maintained that pledge. He had stuck by it. He
was a pro-life President, whether he believed it deeply or not.
I used the culture war speech against Clinton at the 1992 Republican Convention. I argued with the Bush people that with foreign
policy off the table after we won the Cold War and only 16 percent
of the people thinking Bush had done a good job on the economy,
the only way you can beat “Slick Willy” is on cultural and social
issues. And I hammered those in that convention speech. But Bush
and Baker abandoned them when it got too hot for them. I think
that’s the one way they could have won the election. But I had not
used those issues in the Republican primary against Bush.
RUSH: That’s true. I remember, I was in Houston for that convention, they disowned you after that. They spread the story that you
had “betrayed” them, that you had promised them you would not be
divisive, you wouldn’t get into all of that.
BUCHANAN: Let me tell you, Rush,
about the speech I delivered. I was asked
by the Bush people to do three things
when they gave me basically what was
the keynote speech, the first speech of
opening night before Reagan. They
said, “Here’s what you do. You’re going
to praise Ronald Reagan’s record. You’re
going to endorse George Bush. And
you’re going to take apart Bill Clinton.”
I said, “I will do all three, and we will
get the job done.” And I did.
I sent the speech on Sunday morning
up to the White House where I was told
the President read it and approved. Other folks down there in the trailer read it
and approved of everything. One of
them asked me to get in one point about
George Bush liberating 400 million
people in Eastern Europe and the Soviet
Union. I said, “Fine.” So they all saw the speech, they knew it was
coming. When it was delivered, the poll ratings were phenomenal.
President Bush went up in the polls. All sorts of folks said it was a
stunning night, a Buchanan-Reagan night. The convention was off
to a great start. That backlash started from inside the Party and in the
press. In my judgment, Bush bolted. He and Baker ran away from the
only issues that could have defeated Bill Clinton in 1992. It wasn’t the
economy. It wasn’t Bush’s sterling record on foreign policy.
RUSH: Pat, it was powerful. It was brave. This was not long after
Reagan was being blamed for the AIDS crisis, because “he didn’t talk
BUCHANAN: I was in the White House when they blamed him.
RUSH: Right. Nobody had had the guts or the courage to tackle
any of that, and you did. And you’re right. There was enthusiasm.
There were cheers. There was backslapping. But it wasn’t a surprise
even back then, that what we now call “the establishment” was going to cave on it, because their friends were going to ridicule them.
And that happened, so they had to disavow you.
BUCHANAN: That’s right, Rush. There were all manner of attacks
on the speech, they said it had a terrible phrase, “culture wars,” and
“religious war for the soul of America.” The phrase “culture war”
has probably been used in a hundred book titles since.
RUSH: It was a bulls-eye. So let’s come forward to Trump. I don’t
want to assume. Do you look at Trump as a sort of “heir,” as somebody who has picked up the mantle and is running with it — and
are you happy about it?
BUCHANAN: Well, this is why I’ve been sympathetic to Donald
Trump and supportive of a lot of what he’s doing. I was astounded,
when he first announced, that, one, he’s going to secure the Mexican
border, he’s going to build a secure fence — as we asked President
Bush to do in 1991. Two, he’s going to stay out of any unnecessary,
unwinnable wars in the Middle East. Three, he’s going to try to get
along with the dictators abroad, like Nixon and Reagan did. And
four, he’s going to deal with these trade issues where we’ve been taken
to the cleaners.
For the first time someone had stood up and was talking the
issues that I had raised in the 90s — and not only was he doing well,
he was vaulting into the leadership. I said, “Look, the guy is being
pounded, and his ideas and issues need to be supported.” That’s what
I’ve been doing. I haven’t endorsed anyone, but I am elated that
Donald Trump stepped into this campaign. As he has said, if he
hadn’t gotten in, no one would be talking about trade now, Rush. No
one would be talking about building the wall on the border. No one
would be talking about staying out of these wars and putting foreign
policy on the table. So I’m delighted he’s in there.
RUSH: Now, this next one is not a trick question. I haven’t endorsed
anybody either, and I’m nobody’s agent. Do you think he knows
what he’s doing, or is he just naturally inclined to these things?
BUCHANAN: I think he’s a smart guy. I think he sits up in New York,
and he’s been watching the scene. He’s been talking to folks and he’s
been reading. I think he’s probably been studying to a degree, and he
looks out there and he sees a trade deficit, he’s got a different number
than I do, a $365 billion Chinese trade surplus at our expense last
year. He’s saying, “What is going on?” I think he gets reactions from
the people when he speaks. He responds to that like a good candidate
who picks things up in the back-and-forth with his audiences. He
moves more in this direction and he gets stronger. I think one thing
feeds upon another. I don’t think he picked up a textbook. I think he
had them in mind when he announced.
RUSH: Does anything about Trump, his campaign, anything he has
said — is there any aspect of it that concerns you? Let me give you
some possibilities: That maybe he doesn’t mean all of it; or does he say
things that you think maybe he doesn’t know he should not say? Is he
saying things that aren’t true, that he knows are not true, or is he
mistaken? Anything like that that’s causing red flags for you?
BUCHANAN: I told a reporter for Le Figaro, the French paper, that
as a diagnostician of many of the maladies that are damaging
“Nominating Trump would upend the table. The whole chessboard would go over. We wouldn’t remember where all the
pieces were, and we’d have to start over.” — PAT BUCHANAN