Why Trump Threatened a Shutdown

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RUSH: Okay, so the president’s out there assuring everybody he’s willing to shut down the government over immigration. He’s willing to shut down the government over funding for a border wall. Now, I know what he’s doing. But it seems like the rest of the Drive-Bys don’t — and do you know why? Because everybody gets caught up in formulas and cliches, and there is an ongoing formula or so-called rule of thumb in Washington.

And that is that if there is ever a government shutdown — which is a horrible, horrible thing; people can’t face the day if there is a government shutdown, and Republicans always get the blame for it. So people are saying, “What is Trump doing? Everybody knows Republicans get the blame even when they have nothing to do with it! What is Trump doing?” I know. But I’m curious to see how many of you know.

So whatever you will say you wish to talk about today, if you have some thoughts on why Trump is offering to shut down the government, I’d be glad to hear ’em. I’m not limiting what you can talk about to that. In fact, I’m not even saying you have to answer it. I’m just saying if you want to give it a shot, fine. At some point, I will divulge the reason, depending on how long it takes for you to get close to it, and maybe one of you will nail it. We will see.

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RUSH: President Trump yesterday said, “I would be willing to shut down government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for border security, which includes the wall. Must get rid of lottery, catch-and-release, et cetera, and finally go to system of immigration based on merit. We need great people coming into our country.” This immediately sent the Republican Party into panic. Mitch McConnell — the turtle — Paul Ryan and a bunch of others:

“There will not be a government shutdown! I want everybody to listen me: There will not be a government shutdown. This is not going to happen.” So we’re gonna go to the phones. People want to weigh in on what they think the president’s doing here. We’ll start… Look at this! My hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. This is Sean and welcome. I tell you, great to have you, sir.

CALLER: Mega dittos, Rush. I want to answer the question about the border wall. So here’s my thought. I think that what Trump’s doing is gonna force the Democrats to admit that they care more about illegal immigration than they care about either border security or Americans. You know, when they shut it down, Trump will say, “People can’t go to the national monument because the Democrats care more about the illegal immigration than they care about your family vacation.”

RUSH: Okay.

CALLER: For example.

RUSH: All right. As they say — now it’s become a cliche — let’s unpack that. So the president is suggesting that he would shut down the government. He’d be willing… He’s not saying he’s going to. He’d be willing to shut down the government. Democrats do not give us the votes for border security. So your theory is that Trump is trying to flush ’em out. He’s trying to flush out people who do not care about illegal immigration and the wanton flow of people into the country via the southern border as a means of making more and more people realize that the Democrat Party poses the threat here. Okay? We’ll leave that out on the table. We’ll keep going. Next to Scott in Richmond, Virginia. You’re next, sir. Hello.

CALLER: Hey. Good to speak with you Rush. How are you?

RUSH: Good. Good. Thank you.

CALLER: My theory on this, to get right to the point to kind of compound on your last caller. You know, my theory is with Jim Jordan announcing a couple of weeks ago — and he’s been working hard behind the scenes, as we all know, in regards to this Russia collusion and such. You know, I think this is a rallying call that President Trump did in regards to this tweet, ’cause he knows it’s gonna get people fired up. The media’s gonna get to talking, and this is a rallying call in regard to the midterms. If the Republicans win a decent portion of the seats, he knows that he’s gonna have more allies on his side to push through the agenda that he has not yet been able to accomplish that he promised on the election trail, and I think with Jim Jordan as a pit bull in there working hard, he could bury these people.

RUSH: Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Jim Jordan announced for speaker. Is that what you’re talking about?

CALLER: Yes, sir.

RUSH: Okay.

CALLER: I think that will go a long way in helping him.

RUSH: So the president is doing this to position himself to win the midterms — the Republicans to win the midterms — and to help Jim Jordan become speaker?

CALLER: I believe so, and I think it also parallels into 2020, ’cause I think he feels that he’s got the pulse of America down. And I just think he sees they’re on the ropes. And if he could get, you know, more support and a pit bull Like a Jim Jordan in there, I just think — and he’s going for the knockout. That’s just my personal belief.

RUSH: That’s what I’ve asked. That’s what I’ve asked you for, and I’m glad that you called and got through with it. Of course, I have not explained my theory on this because when I do, then there’s nothing left for anybody else to say. So I will keep the question open and we’ll continue to discuss this as the big program unfolds before your very eyes and ears this afternoon. (interruption) No, I’m not gonna say whether anybody’s close to what I’m thinking or not. That doesn’t. You’ll find out in due course.

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RUSH: Let me give you a hint. The reason Trump is suggesting a shutdown is because he’s got a strategy that is entirely opposite what we usually get from the Republican Party.

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RUSH: Back to the phones, we go Tim in Mansfield, Ohio. Great to have you here.

CALLER: Great to be here. Nothing quite like a Limbaugh adrenaline rush, so to speak.

RUSH: Well, thank you, sir. I appreciate that.

CALLER: I believe I have the answer to your question why Trump is doing what he’s doing with the border wall. Simple answer: Art of the Deal 101.

RUSH: Well, now, you gotta explain that. You just can’t say “Art of the Deal.”

CALLER: Art of the Deal. I’ve never read it, but I listen to Rush every day so I know a little bit about it.

RUSH: Okay. So what in Art of the Deal is he doing here?

CALLER: Well, I believe you said or Trump said you ask three or four times of what you want and you’re happy if you get some of that.

RUSH: Well, uhhhh, yeah.

CALLER: No?

RUSH: But see… (sigh) Everybody that’s called about this has been really, really close. But there are no moral victories at EIB Network, and there is no close-you-get-a-cigar-victory here. You gotta tell me exactly. And I realize… I know you’re not sucking up out there, Tim, when you say you’ve heard me discuss Art of the Deal and ask for three times more than you want. Let me just say, I don’t think asking for three times more than you want is actually what’s going on here. So having said that, would you like to take another stab at it?

CALLER: Well, I’ve had a second part to it, and so it was Art of the Deal 101 and then also to solidified his base, because that’s what he needs to do, as everyone knows, and I think that would be a second part of that. Art of the Deal and the base.

RUSH: Okay, now we’re getting warm. The temperature is starting to…

CALLER: (chuckling)

RUSH: It’s starting to increase out there. So why would Trump need or want to solidify the base?

CALLER: Well, we do have elections coming up in a couple months, and he did say he’s gonna go campaign strong for everybody, Republican Party. So I guess you run at a strong pace and keep the Republicans in the House and the Senate, would be my guess.

RUSH: Well, you know what? You are so close to what I think is going on here, I’m pretty… I’m just gonna say, “Okay, that’s it.” But if anybody else has any other ideas, do not hang up. If you’re on hold and you want to discuss this, we’ll get to it. But here’s my thinking on this. The Republican Party normally blanches at the talk of a government shutdown. If the media brings it up or if the Democrats bring it, what do the Republicans do?

Republican leadership, they run to the nearest camera and microphone. They assure everybody, ‘There isn’t gonna be a shutdown,” that they don’t want there to be a shutdown, that they have no desire for one. Because they know or they think they get blamed every time there is one. And what is their strategy in dealing with it. The Republicans — and I spoke of this in the last 45 minutes. The Republican strategery in this has always been consistent.

And it’s the same strategery Republicans try to win independents and their votes. They approach ’em and say and, “We’re not racist. We’re not bigots. We’ll work with the Democrats. We’re willing to cross the aisle. We are willing to cooperate. We want to show that Washington can work!” It’s an entirely defensive strategy. They get beat up as racist, sexist, bigots, and so they have to try to tell people:

“No, no, no! We’re not racists, sexists, bigots. Look what we’ll do here and we’ll do there. Like we’re for amnesty! Some of our Republicans are for amnesty. We couldn’t possibly bigots if we’re for amnesty.” Then they’ll try to limit talk of abortion and “social issues” to show that they’re not anti-woman. In other words, they accept every premise the Democrats in the media put out and then think take policy positions and make statements to try to tell people:

“No, no, no, no! That’s not who we are.” They’re very defensive. But they really do this, I mean, they really get into gear when the idea of a government shutdown comes up — and they’ve done it here. Trump floats the idea in a tweet that he’d be willing to shut down the government if they don’t get funding for the wall and if we don’t change our immigration laws so that they’re merit-based and we get the best people. Here’s the tweet:

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government,” and by the way “shut down” is in quotes. “I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT!” What’d the Republicans do? They had a cow. Mitch McConnell and the rest of the boys went out there and they said, “No way! We’re not… There’s not gonna be a shutdown. We’re not in favor of a shutdown!”

They did what they usually do. So Trump is taking the exact opposite route. He is saying he would be willing to do it. The key is over what? Immigration. Trump is showing he’s not afraid of a government shutdown — which, believe me, the base of this party loves. The base of the Republican Party… We know now, by the way, any poll shows Trump has 85 to 92% support the Republican Party. The Republican base is Trump’s now.

It’s not a bunch of populist nationalists. It’s the mainstream of the Republican Party that’s for Trump, and they hate this cowering before the Democrats and the media over government shutdowns. They hate giving up every policy idea in the face of the blackmail of the government shutdown. So they loved Trump saying he’d be willing to do it over this because the issue of immigration is what got him elected.

This is about immigration and it’s about border security. But it’s about more than that, because it is about maintaining this distinct American greatness, a distinct American culture and not allowing it to be diluted and watered down with the unending flow of millions of people who are not legally in the country. Not becoming citizens, not going through the proper channels. Believe me, this is going to turn people out in November. You’ve heard…

I don’t know whether it’s true, but you’ve heard that the momentum and the energy is all on the Democrat side. “The resistance is revved and they can’t wait! They can’t wait to get rid of Trump — and the first step of getting rid of Trump is gaining control of the House for the Democrats.” They can’t wait to do it. I think there are probably some Republicans that believe that. So this is an effort, I think, on Trump’s part to ratchet up the energy, the turnout over the issue that got him elected.

Because, folks, all Trump has right now is his base. That’s his line of defense. That’s his wall. The people that are gonna vote against Trump — i.e., vote against Republicans — are not gonna be bought off with a little policy offer here or a policy offer there. I mean, this is for all the marbles. Trump needs everybody that voted for him for president showing up and voting Republican again. And he needs even more of that.

Now, you would think that with the economy going so great, that he wouldn’t need to stoke the turnout. But the statistics of voter turnout in off-year elections in a president’s first term, they’re what they are, and the party in power always loses seats. There are some exceptions. 2002 was a big exception. But in Obama’s case, 2010 was a disaster. The Democrats lost control of the House in 2010 after two years of Obama.

That’s what they want to guard against here.

So this is about making sure that the base knows that this is what the election is about. I think there’s some reliance on the strength of the economy, but people showing up to vote, thanking the president for a good economy? I don’t think they want to bank on that as much as they want to bank on the fact that we could be losing the country here if the Democrats gain control.

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RUSH: Let’s go back to the phone. Derek in Drums, Pennsylvania. Welcome, sir. It’s great to have you here.

CALLER: Hey, thanks. So you talked earlier about Trump trying to rally the base and trying to keep his base fired up. But what I think is just Trump is trying to be the adult in the room — and by “the room,” I mean, the country. He got elected on certain issues, and he’s not gonna go back on those issues. He is gonna make the American voters go to the polls and make the decision. And if they vote Republicans out of office eventually, if they vote him out of office, he’s gonna walk away from this situation saying, “I told you what I was gonna do. I kept my promises. Now it’s up to you to make your decision as Americans.”

RUSH: Okay. So you think Trump is seeking an exclamation point on his mandate?

CALLER: Absolutely. Why would you go back on everything that you’ve done during the campaign and up until now? And like we talked about, he kind of waited until the economy was booming a little bit to start making some of these big decisions on tariffs.

RUSH: Right.

CALLER: He’s doing the same thing now. He’s doing the same thing now with immigration. The time is now for immigration, and if you don’t do it now, it’s not gonna get done. I think the American people know it. Like you said, it’s No. 1 on their concerns.

RUSH: Well, it is. The people that elected him, it is and it remains. It was and remains. That’s a good thought. Trump puts it out there. So there doesn’t have to be a shutdown for Trump to be seen as still dead serious about this — and if this succeeds in a Republican turnout that stops or thwarts this imagined blue wave, then Trump will have a second endorsement of his mandate, if that becomes the primary reason analysts say that voters turned out in the midterms. Very shrewd of you. Very, very shrewd out there, Derek. Way to go.

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RUSH: Let’s go back to the phone. Derek in Drums, Pennsylvania. Welcome, sir. It’s great to have you here.

CALLER: Hey, thanks. So you talked earlier about Trump trying to rally the base and trying to keep his base fired up. But what I think is just Trump is trying to be the adult in the room — and by “the room,” I mean, the country. He got elected on certain issues, and he’s not gonna go back on those issues. He is gonna make the American voters go to the polls and make the decision. And if they vote Republicans out of office eventually, if they vote him out of office, he’s gonna walk away from this situation saying, “I told you what I was gonna do. I kept my promises. Now it’s up to you to make your decision as Americans.”

RUSH: Okay. So you think Trump is seeking an exclamation point on his mandate?

CALLER: Absolutely. Why would you go back on everything that you’ve done during the campaign and up until now? And like we talked about, he kind of waited until the economy was booming a little bit to start making some of these big decisions on tariffs.

RUSH: Right.

CALLER: He’s doing the same thing now. He’s doing the same thing now with immigration. The time is now for immigration, and if you don’t do it now, it’s not gonna get done. I think the American people know it. Like you said, it’s No. 1 on their concerns.

RUSH: Well, it is. The people that elected him, it is and it remains. It was and remains. That’s a good thought. Trump puts it out there. So there doesn’t have to be a shutdown for Trump to be seen as still dead serious about this — and if this succeeds in a Republican turnout that stops or thwarts this imagined blue wave, then Trump will have a second endorsement of his mandate, if that becomes the primary reason analysts say that voters turned out in the midterms. Very shrewd of you. Very, very shrewd out there, Derek. Way to go.

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RUSH: Oh, by the way, we have a montage of Republicans on this threat by the president — not a threat — his claim that he would be open to shutting down the government over getting funding for the wall and securing the border. Republicans are freaking out. Any mention of a shutdown by anybody, it’s predictable, we have a short little montage here of a bunch of them.

MITCH MCCONNELL: No. That’s not gonna happen.

RON JOHNSON: I certainly don’t like playing shutdown politics. I don’t think it’d be helpful.

STEVE STIVERS: You know, I think we’re gonna make sure we keep the government open, but we’re gonna get better policies on immigration.

RUSH: We’re gonna keep the government open, get better policies. Do you know something else that’s true? You can look this up. You’d be wasting your time because I already did. I wouldn’t tell you this if I was just wild-guessing. The markets do not lose value during government shutdowns. Did you know that? The markets either hold steady or gain. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Government shutdowns do not harm the markets. A little factoid there.

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