The McLaughlin Group

Issues: Super Tuesday / ISIS in Asia / Economic Outlook

John McLaughlin, Host
Pat Buchanan, Author & Columnist
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast
Tom Rogan, National Review/Opportunity Lives
Siraj Hashmi,

Taped: Friday, March 4, 2016
Broadcast: Weekend of March 4-6, 2016

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ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP, the American original. For over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, HOST: Issue One: Super Week.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She wants to make America whole again and I’m trying to figure out what is that all about. "Make America great again" is going to be much better than "making America whole again".

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Instead of building walls, we’re going to break down barriers and build --


-- build ladders of opportunity and empowerment.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Voters in 12 states picked their candidates for November’s presidential election on Tuesday. Two big winners stand out -- Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Ironically, the Republican establishment lashed out this week, not at Clinton, but at their own frontrunner, Donald Trump. Notably, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who this week derided Trump as lacking, quote, "the temperament of a stable, thoughtful leader," unquote, who would start a trade war with China.

At a campaign rally in Maine, Trump responded.

TRUMP: If I’m losing $505 billion with China, if I’m losing $58 billion a year with Mexico in trade -- in terms of deficits, what do I want that kind of trade for anyway? Ruin it? Who needs that kind of trade?

MCLAUGHLIN: There were fresh brickbats at Thursday’s debate in Detroit, where the GOP establishment’s assault continued. Some political insiders cheered the aggressive tack against Trump. But some questioned whether the GOP’s bare-knuckles tactics will boomerang to Trump’s advantage.

If the establishment is so desperate to stop him and preserve the status quo, the reasoning goes, it must really fear that Trump will make good on his promises to shake things up in Washington. In short, the attacks validate Trump’s outsider candidacy and will only boost his appeal.

And note this -- furious at Governor Chris Christie for his support of Mr. Trump, seven New Jersey newspapers are now calling for Mr. Christie’s resignation.


MCLAUGHLIN: Has the time come for the Republican Party to embrace Donald Trump? Yes or no, Pat?

PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR & COLUMNIST: Whether the time has come or not, John, there is going to be no embrace of Donald Trump. The key day to watch here is the 15th, the Ides of March, when Florida and Ohio vote.

And if Rubio doesn’t win Florida, and Trump wins it, and Trump wins Ohio, the game is over. But if Trump loses those two states, I think we’re going all the way to the convention, John.

And right now, Romney has joined the stop Trump, the never Trump movement. And they want to stop Trump short of a majority. And it’s possible they could do that.

But I can tell you this, I don’t see how, having done that, they deliver the nomination to someone else or who else they deliver it to. And so, they’re really -- they’re inviting a real political bloodbath at Cleveland.

But I think we’ll know by the 15th of March. I mean, if Trump loses them both, we’re going to have a contested convention.


ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, I agree with that. If Trump loses Ohio to John Kasich, and Florida to Marco Rubio, then each of those candidates gets a small little pile of delegates, and it would be enough to deny Trump the 1,237 delegates that he needs outright to capture the nomination.

What you’re seeing now, though, is a Republican Party that’s completely at war with itself. People want to start a new party. Some people want to make their peace with Trump. They’re saying, look, he’s bringing blue collar workers. Let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth.

Some are ready to do anything, go to the convention, in order to upend Trump, because they figure he’s going to lose the White House, he’s going to lose the Senate, maybe even the House. And with the Supreme Court at stake, the party figures, you know, all the marbles are on the table and they don’t trust them to Donald Trump.

I think, you know, Democrats are not sitting on the sidelines cheering because this is a phenomenon that we haven’t seen before. He has tapped into a vein of misogyny and hate and white supremacy here that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

But all these Republicans getting on their high horse, saying we can’t support someone who divides the country by race -- they’ve been flirting with racial divisions way back to the days of the Southern Strategy, and on up. Trump is just doing explicitly what the party has practiced implicitly, and now, it’s all coming apart.

MCLAUGHLIN: What’s this misogyny business?

CLIFT: Misogyny is things he says about women.

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. But what is that --

CLIFT: Things he says about refugees.

MCLAUGHLIN: How does he show it?

CLIFT: You want me to repeat what he’s been saying? I prefer not to.

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. You can repeat a couple of things.

CLIFT: No, I’d prefer not to.



CLIFT: He’s made some comments that are pretty hair-raising.

ROGAN: John --


CLIFT: Wanting to ban all Muslims from entering the country, for example, is a good one.

ROGAN: John, the key thing here -- the key thing here is that the Republican Party certainly is in a really difficult position now in terms of this feuding.

So, you have the Trump people who are absolutely aligned with him. Trump looking like a frontrunner. I think that’s absolutely right. Ohio and Florida become very critical, defining.

But then the rest of the party is divided about whether to double down with Marco Rubio, who still is struggling to get up there, or go with Ted Cruz, who’s seen as someone who could bring ultimately more of the Trump voters into his bloc, but what would be vulnerable in a general election. And at the same time, I think there’s this great disagreement within the party about, you know, identity. So, as much as Trump people believe that they are reinventing -- and to some degree are reinventing the Republican Party, there are other conservatives, a lot of other conservatives who actually say, we don’t want that reinvention.

So, as much as there might be that brokered convention and that showdown, there really is I think a growing possibility of the party, you know, coming to a civil war type dynamic that it frankly can’t -- because those are such powerful identity-born issues.

SIRAJ HASHMI, GVHLIVE.COM: I would say -- I was just wanting to add to Eleanor’s comments about banning all Muslims. And, you know, as a Muslim myself, I’m wondering whether Trump wants to either deport me first or send me to an interment camp.

ROGAN: No, you’d be OK.

HASHMI: I think I’ll be OK.

But regardless of Donald Trump’s rhetoric, "The New York Times" has some off-the-record tape of Donald Trump saying that he is really just playing up building a wall and being tough on immigration, really to corral to his base. And the reason why the GOP is so fearful of Donald Trump is because he’s virtually a wildcard. When he gets into the office, most voters and political insiders have no idea what he’s going to do.

BUCHANAN: Let me say, Donald Trump -- Eleanor notwithstanding -- is a victim of a lot of hatred that is coming out from the left accusing him of misogyny and all these other things.

What Donald Trump, which is driving his campaign, is not only the persona and the Trump plane, is he stands up for securing America’s borders, an end to these trade deals that sent our factories and jobs overseas, and no more of these idiot, endless, interventionist wars in the Middle East. That’s what’s driving it.

And all --

ROGAN: He wants to take the oil, Pat.


BUCHANAN: Excuse me. All this talk of hate, quite frankly, a lot of the hate is coming toward the Republican Party.

Eleanor, there was nothing wrong with the Southern Strategy. The Democratic Party controlled a solid South when it was segregationist and racist, and Nixon brought it in during desegregation.

CLIFT: What about Ronald Reagan starting his campaign in 1980 in Philadelphia, Mississippi --

BUCHANAN: You really think he was -- I was in --

CLIFT: -- where three civil rights workers were --


BUCHANAN: I was in Philadelphia, Mississippi when those civil rights workers were buried in an earthen dam before they were found.

CLIFT: Why --

BUCHANAN: The idea that Reagan deliberately chose Neshoba County and Philadelphia because he wanted to celebrate the murder of those civil rights, that is an outrageous libel and lie.

CLIFT: What about the jokes about the welfare queens and all of that?

BUCHANAN: He joked about the welfare queens.


CLIFT: People have flirted with these issues for a long time, Pat, and there’s a reason on primary day, one of the most segregated days in America, you don’t see any minorities, or very few minorities, going to those Republican caucuses and primaries.


ROGAN: But this is an opportunity -- one of the things -- you have to take a sort of moderate ground here -- is that the Republican Party has to be much more -- and I think you do see this increasingly in recent years, where, you know, Opportunity Lives, where I have been writing, the idea about actually Republicans returning.

John McCain I think was the first to do it, but to say to black Americans across the country that here’s why you should vote for a Republican candidate who cares about economic growth, about providing opportunity up the economic ladder and moving beyond frankly what both Republicans and Democrats, of course, in the civil rights era have been very negative on those issue.

So, it’s about, you know, encompassing new people into the movement.

HASHMI: When you talk about race-baiting, that certainly drives a lot of minority groups to the left. But if – with a fundamental understanding of economics and how the free market works, that actually -- when a lot of people have an understanding of that, that seems to be calling them to the conservative movement, and I actually had the chance to see that at CPAC with a lot of young people, and in my years of reporting, speaking with young people.

BUCHANAN: There’s other groups, you know, that are unrepresented, and some of them are working class white folks that love this country and do their work, who had been ignored, who have been treated with contempt by the Democratic Party and the elites, the Davos/Dubai crowd. And they’re coming to Trump because he appears to stand up for patriotism, for nationalism, for his own country first, for securing the borders and keeping the American they grew up in.

CLIFT: And those people have seen through the Republican establishment, and the Republican establishment has not delivered for them. And my perspective, I agree with you that Donald Trump, I would support Donald Trump above anybody else on that stage, except maybe for Kasich. But I think Trump does understand the woes of the working class America.

BUCHANAN: Their views and their concerns.

CLIFT: And he’s bringing those voters into the process, which is good for the Republican Party, and those people do need to be paid attention to. I agree with that.

ROGAN: And that’s absolutely true. And I get -- and I get from this campaign, especially talking to people, why a lot of -- you know, why there is that deep vein of anger. My grandfather, a great example, that he just has no time for really anyone but Trump, because it’s a manifestation of anger.

But the problem, from my perspective, is that Trump isn’t just an orator providing an angle for that anger. He is someone that really at a sociopathic level is unstable. I mean, the way that he cannot deal with criticism, the way that he threatens to sue the press, I mean, he -- you know, he wants the world to be his stage, but he would turn it into – there’s such an inherent, unpredictability to the man, there’s a deep concern there.


MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, quickly.

CLIFT: It’s been great entertainment, and we’re now witnessing what could be a hostile takeover of the Republican Party.

BUCHANAN: It’s not hostile. It’s a popular takeover of the party.

CLIFT: It’s hostile of leadership.

BUCHANAN: They got the largest turnout in history in all of the primaries and all the caucuses of Republicans, people are pouring in because they know something real is at issue and they want to be involved.

This is the most democratic thing I’ve ever seen, in terms of numbers.

ROGAN: We all agree it’s certainly going to help Hillary Clinton’s fundraising as well though.


MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: will Donald Trump defeat Marco Rubio in his home state of Florida on March the 15th. Pat?

BUCHANAN: I think Trump will win, but I think it’s going to be much closer, as it was up in Virginia where I was -- where Marco really closed the gap coming up toward the Election Day. I think Trump will win narrowly.

CLIFT: There’s so much attack ads coming at Trump and there’s a lot of problems with his positions and things he’s said. And if the sludge rises high enough, he could lose.

I can’t predict what’s going to happen in Florida, but --

ROGAN: I think Rubio’s only way to come back there is that he has Bush, Jeb -- former Governor Jeb Bush and Rick Scott coming out with endorsements. Even then, it’s going to be tough. I think, you know, I’m still leaning towards Trump.


HASHMI: I believe Trump will win, but that’s only because Kasich is still in the race. If Ohio came a day or two before Florida, Rubio would take it.

CLIFT: Yes, but they’re sort of cease-and-desist. Rubio isn’t doing anything in Ohio, and I don’t think Kasich is doing anything in Florida. But yes, yes.

HASHMI: If Kasich doesn’t win Ohio, he’s gone.

MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes.

Issue Two: ISIS in Asia.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then, you say that, you know, Pakistan is a nexus of terrorism. This is absolutely unjustified, absolutely unfair with us. And we don’t take it at all.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, under its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is balancing competition from the Pakistani Taliban and from al Qaeda. ISIS’ self-declared caliphate is now recruiting other jihadist groups in Egypt, Nigeria, Palestine, and the Philippines.

Did I mention Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Well, in Afghanistan, President Obama has escalated U.S. military operations against ISIS. But ISIS is looking across the border to Pakistan. ISIS leaders see the nuclear-armed Pakistan as a prime target.


MCLAUGHLIN: Should we be concerned about ISIS destabilizing Pakistan? Siraj, you are Pakistani --

ROGAN: American.

HASHMI: Pakistani-American.


HASHMI: Well, yes, greatly.

Pakistan has been destabilized for sometime, not to the degree as Afghanistan, or Iraq and Syria, but is of great concern. You have the Pakistani Taliban that has been ravaging the Northwest Frontier Province in 2014. They have that massacre in the army school, and ISIS recruiting in Pakistan, which is deemed as one of the more religious of the sub-continental countries, in terms of their Islamic faith. You’re going to look to see quite a hotbed of terrorist activity there, unfortunately.

CLIFT: You know, as long as my consciousness of Pakistan has been there, there’s been that mountainous border area where kind of ungovernable radical groups are and the government there kind of plays this double game and our U.S. State Department feels frustrated that they’re not really cracking down.

This feels to me like an old problem with a new name, with ISIS.

HASHMI: Right. And one of the biggest hurdles for at least our government, and U.S. intelligence is, getting over that hurdle of cooperating with the ISI, because there have been a number of ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban. They have been many sympathies.

ROGAN: I think that’s the key issue, isn’t it, that the Pakistani Taliban with the Peshawar school attack, I mean, the level -- it really speaks to that ideology of -- and evil -- in the sense that they were playing on both sides of the Pakistani government, ISI, you know, give and take, and then they go and shoot up a bunch of school kids of army officers and enlisted guys.

HASHMI: They have no regard for human life.

ROGAN: And so, understandably, the Pakistani army, you know, very fortunate, General Sharif, they went up there and they hit them in the Northwest Frontier and pushed them out. Now, of course, you see it, the flip to ISIS.

The problem is, this will all continue as long as the Pakistani government continues to see India as a primacy of threat, rather than these terrorist groups.

BUCHANAN: But, you know, really, the ISIS thing, this really is a cancer that has metastasized out of Syria into Iraq, into Libya, into South Asia, and it continues into Northwest Nigeria. It really is, and it’s gathering recruits all over. It doesn’t really right now have the capacity to take over a country, but it’s sort of getting closer I think whereas it’s diminishing in Iraq and Syria, I think it’s getting closer in Libya.

CLIFT: Yes, it almost feels like Pakistan knows how to deal with this, but I would look at Libya as a bit of prime area for radical takeover.

BUCHANAN: You might get an intervention in Libya by the allies, John.

ROGAN: I think also, one of the reasons -- look, and Siraj makes that point that the level of politicized Islam there, which I think is the big issue, right, is the usurpation of Islam into an extremist political mentality. That allows ISIS the ability to come in there and to build a way.

But hopefully, what I think you’ll see in the coming years is if perhaps the Pakistani military continues to have their influence, because of that blood feud they now have with these groups, that they push against them. And ISIS, you know, is TTP, Pakistan Taliban times two, you know, there’s a showdown.

The problem, of course, is the nuclear component.

BUCHANAN: What it means for us is, we aren’t coming home. The United States, I think -- you go to Afghanistan, the general over there is saying, we can’t pull our troops out or the Taliban will take over.

And I think Obama is not going to be able to realize his commitment to remove American troops. There’s talk about U.S. and French and British going back into Libya. I think there’s going to be a real crunch between what the American people, basically we see it in the Republican primaries, and Democrat, that we want them to come home, and over there, they’re saying, we can’t home. We lose the whole ball of wax.

CLIFT: Yes. But Obama has held the line. I mean, leaving a certain number of troops there. They’re really not an act of combat, and not sending more in, I think. That kind of honors the essence of his candidacy.

ROGAN: John Campbell, who was the former Afghanistan commander, was giving the president, you know, a bit of credit, saying, look, you know, we’re keeping some troops. But the problem is, the president likes to put this bland numbers on it. He’s just put some number less than the military, so you have a limited strategic efficacy --


BUCHANAN: You’re talking about -- you’re talking about forever wars.


MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: on a Geiger counter scale, from zero to 500 CPM, counts per minute, Pat, CPM, where zero means no measure of radiation and 500 means head for the bomb shelters, what’s the risk of one of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of ISIS? Zero to 500?

BUCHANAN: I would rely on the Pakistan security forces not letting something like that happen. So, I think it is zero to minimal.

CLIFT: I’ll probably put it at minimal, yes. I mean, they’d be crazy if they let loose any of that.

ROGAN: Hundred and twenty, but I’ll tell you what the U.S. contingency planning if that happens? 101st Air Assault -- 173rd Air Assault Brigade of Vicenza getting in there and securing that.

HASHMI: I’ll say one count per minute because I don’t like to say there’s no absolutely no chance of something not happening. There’s absolutely a chance that ISIS could get a hand on a nuclear weapon.

ROGAN: India is not going to let that happen.

HASHMI: India will never let that happen.

BUCHANAN: It would take internal collaboration with ISIS by someone in the Pakistani military to do that.

MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a broader philosophical position you take --


MCLAUGHLIN: -- in regard to other subjects, when you don’t want something to happen, you predict it won’t?

HASHMI: Well, I --

MCLAUGHLIN: Is that what you’re doing?

HASHMI: I would say, I would actually say that anything is possible. And with the rise of Donald Trump --

ROGAN: You’ve got to come strong again. This is the Dr. McLaughlin game, you’ve got to go strong back here.

MCLAUGHLIN: You think that’s going to help at this stage of the game, really?

The answer is 10, very, very remote.

Issue Three: State of the Economy.


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Unemployment still at 4.9 percent. Consumer spending, up 0.5 percent. Construction spending, up 1.5 percent. Manufacturing activity improved and stock markets rising.

So, economic data suggests room for optimism about the state of the economy.


MCLAUGHLIN: Now that the February jobs report is in, what do the statistics say and what do they tell us about the state of the economy? Siraj?

HASHMI: Well, it’s great for President Obama’s legacy that he has gotten the job rate, the unemployment rate down from 9.4, 9.9 percent down to 4.9 percent.

However, with younger people, that’s not looking so promising, as most of the jobs that the government has added are lower paying jobs. The wage growth only went up about 2.2 percent in February, which doesn’t really come to the expectations above 2.5 percent, and a lot of younger people are getting frustrated about that.

MCLAUGHLIN: How about auto sales, speaking about young people?

HASHMI: Well, young people aren’t buying cars. They aren’t buying houses, and, you know, a lot of them are still living in their parents’ basement.

CLIFT: Well, compared to --

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they’re up over last February’s -- 0.4 percent, they’re up to 7 percent now.

New jobs in general, 242,000. Unemployment rate, 4.9 percent. It was 9.9 percent when Obama took office.

Is all this a wet kiss to President Obama?

CLIFT: Well, especially compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. economy is doing quite well.

But the middle class has been hollowed out. Wages have been stagnant. They’re beginning to creep up, not fast enough. The jobs that are being created are not good enough.

We should hear more of a dialogue on the Republican side about how exactly they’re going to create jobs, instead of how they’re going to cut taxes for the rich and exchanging insults. But the Democratic side of the primary fight is all about the economy and how you can narrow this enormous inequality.


BUCHANAN: But there is also some facts that have to be taken into consideration. Millions and millions of people have stopped looking for work in the American economy. The share of the working age population that is working is as low as it’s been in -- I think in decades.

Secondly, John, you are seeing the trade deficit beginning to rise, this being that with China, with the whole world, partly because of the currency manipulation, if you will, that Trump is talking about. So, I think there’s no doubt about it. There’s good news in terms of where we were seven or eight years ago.

But I think in the last 10 years, we have not had better than 2 percent growth in the GDP and I think the economy, again, if you get Donald Trump in there, he’s got the issues to really rip this economy, rip Hillary Clinton apart, as Siraj has suggested --


BUCHANAN: -- if she’s not indicted.


HASHMI: -- more jobs for everyone when he deports all the Mexicans and Muslims.

ROGAN: It is very good news that the employment figure is going up. And even if it is, you know -- sadly it is, it’s in those lowered paid jobs. But that’s important for families who need that paycheck. So, that is manifestly good news, and we should be grateful for it. But the problem I think in the longer term economic view point, is that as Siraj points out, for young people, there’s an inability to access the market increasingly.

I think to think the Fed -- I actually think, and this is the good thing about this election, though, is the difference between the Democratic and Republican side. The Democratic side is that the expansion of the state provides more mechanisms of opportunity there. I would say it actually provide less, and I would use a good example there, the impact to Obamacare on middle incomes, OK? The compression there.


ROGAN: Wait, one final thing, very passionate about this.


ROGAN: The longer-term economic benefits that the country could have, we could have corporate tax reform, so we can encourage companies to set up here, as they are doing, for example, in the U.K. and Ireland, putting -- barring them from going abroad.


ROGAN: But also that you would have entitlement reform and you would have private sector investment that boosts productivity.

MCLAUGHLIN: All right.

ROGAN: Because if you don’t have that, you don’t have the fundamentals for sustained long term economic growth.

MCLAUGHLIN: That’s very enlightening. Now, my question is, the economic data show the global trade volume is declining. Yet, the U.S. economy is relatively strong.

What does that tell you? Siraj?

HASHMI: I would like to defer to one of my colleagues because this is one of those issues that I’m not as well-versed on.


CLIFT: We’re in a middle of a political season here. You’ve got Trump as the likely Republican nominee, who’s not a free trader, which goes against everything the party has stood for. And you’ve got Hillary Clinton, who helped negotiate the latest trade deal, who’s now come out against.

So, you’ve got a streak of populism here that certainly relates to trade and all of that.

BUCHANAN: But what these numbers tell you --

CLIFT: It’s Pat’s -- it’s Pat’s heyday.

BUCHANAN: Right. What these numbers tell you is that China is not growing at 12 percent. It’s down to six and declining.

The E.U. is anemic growth. The Russians are in trouble. The world is in trouble, John.

CLIFT: The U.S. is doing great, actually.


BUCHANAN: A 2 percent growth? Two percent growth is great?

CLIFT: The US has always been great, it just needs to be whole again.

BUCHANAN: It’s not Reagan -- the Reagan era, Eleanor.

MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat?

BUCHANAN: Southern Europe is freezing up its borders right now, and this is going to put tremendous pressure on Greece, where a number of these migrants are. And as the spring comes and the seas calm, there’s going to be a huge influx from the Middle and Near East, and this crisis, I think, is going to come very fast, and it’s going to be a real crisis of the survival of the E.U.


CLIFT: Colorado hauled in $35 million based on its regulation and taxation of marijuana. It’s a beautiful number to support its schools, and it’s going to add to the interest that other state governments have in regulating and taxing marijuana sales.

ROGAN: Jeb Bush and Governor Rick Scott of Florida will both come out and endorse Marco Rubio before the Florida primary.

MCLAUGHLIN: You know about tise show component?


MCLAUGHLIN: Are you prepared for it?

HASHMI: I’m ready.

MCLAUGHLIN: You’re going to bring a lot of Siraj Hashmi to it?

HASHMI: I’m going to bring so much Siraj Hashmi to it.


MCLAUGHLIN: Good. Hit us with it.

HASHMI: A Clinton staffer was granted immunity by the Department of justice. I can see an indictment happen around the convention time on Hillary Clinton, of Hillary Clinton.

BUCHANAN: It’s a good prediction, John.



BUCHANAN: Don’t let me interrupt you.


CLIFT: We’ll come back and check on the accuracy of that.


MCLAUGHLIN: I predict the U.N. Security Council’s unanimous sanctions against North Korea will have little or no affect on Kim Jong-un escalating the deployment of nuclear warheads, forcing China to intercede, lessening tensions in the region.