Why is Donald Trump still dominating headlines?

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 1o, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is she asked me a very inappropriate question. She should really be apologizing to me, if you want to know the truth. And other candidates have said that.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People have been tiptoeing around criticizing Mr. Trump. I think this is we should say this is not who we are as a party when it comes to women and this is not a viable approach to immigration.

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All the air in the balloon is going to Donald Trump right now, but that's OK because this is a long process and it's like a baseball season, George. There are some early gains. It doesn't necessarily determine who is going to be in the World Series.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The overall media frenzy across this country is from one network to the next is focusing on one person. For a lot of us, it's like watching a car accident instead of focusing on the direction we should be headed. It's a sideshow out there.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: All that reaction to the debate and the fallout from the debate last week, what has happened over the past couple of days. We'll talk about that plus the Democratic side. Let's bring in our panel, Charles Lane, opinion writer for The Washington Post, radio talk show host Laura Ingraham who is also editor in chief of her new website LifeZette.com, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

OK, Chuck, there's obviously been a lot of response about the debate, a lot of candidates weighing in afterwards. What about the Donald Trump phenomenon and what has happened since? It seems like no matter what happens he has tapped into this vein that is essentially surging still.

CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think I'm going to have to turn in my pundit's license because -- or somebody is going to revoke it because I really can't analyze this phenomenon. We're living through one of the strangest, most -- if not strange, one of the most puzzling moments in politics that I can remember.

And part of it is a little bit artificial. Part of it is the no such thing as bad publicity, high name recognition phenomenon working to Trump's favor, but some of is real. There's sort of disquiet and upset on the political scene and it doesn't involve just the Republican Party. It stretches all the way into the Democratic Party where Bernie Sanders is drawing crowds of 28,000 people, you know, over in Seattle, and even he isn't far enough to the left for certain people who are ticking him off the rostrum.

It's a very volatile political environment right now. There is apparently a market for very angry rhetoric, the kind of rhetoric Trump has been using that one would have thought would have disqualified a lot of other people from politics in the past, and it's not happening. So that's where we are.

BAIER: There has been a lot of criticism not only from Donald Trump but a lot of people around the country about the way we moderated the debate. Laura, I'm sure you got feedback on your radio show.

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I did. I mean, e-mails, tweets, it goes on and on.

But I think, look, Trump is a symptom of what has happened, and I think you can go back to 2006, 2007 -- George W. Bush was a very popular president, 2004, reelected, 2006, we lost Congress, 2007, immigration reform. This beginning of a real a buildup of resentment and then it came into anger.

After Obama is elected, Tea Party comes roaring in in 2010. Obama is reelected in 2012. The establishment then feels like we reelected Lamar Alexander and Thad Cochran, we're doing great. But underneath it all, I think there is a kind of anger on the part of a lot of white middle-class voters who feel they have been left behind. They're not bad people. They're not anti-immigrant. They don't hate all trade. But they're people who feel like a lot of the policies that we followed have not worked. And they'd like other answers and they'd like to be respected.

And for now, and I don't know how long it will last, Donald Trump is the man who is channeling that upset through two issues -- globalism, trade, and immigration is the second. That's where we are right now. And everyone can say Trump is the problem, we've got to get him out of the race. We've got to push him out. But the more Republicans do that, the more they're going to see Reuters poll, Morning Consult, all these new polls that come out today that shows he's holding steady. It doesn't mean these other candidates aren't great people and they might not rise to the top. But if we don't come to terms with what's happening in the Republican Party, this is going to be a very ugly 2016.

BAIER: But do you think the moderators, me included, or broadly FNC, is somehow in the tank for Jeb Bush?

INGRAHAM: No. I never said that, never thought that. But, again, I think when people are as angry as they are out there, they're looking for people to throw rocks out. And if they think certain people are disinviting people from forums and they're tougher on one group than the other, I think just regular people kind of get their hackles up, even if they don't like Trump very much. A lot of them don't like Trump.

So I think if there are questions maybe that are personal, I think that's fine. You've got to walk through the fire, man. They're going to get asked these questions by somebody. They better be able to answer questions that are personal and difficult.

But I think, you know, we'll see if other candidates are asked some of those tough questions next time. And they better be ready to walk through the fire as well. But maybe they'll be better next time because of these tough questions.

BAIER: It is interesting. I asked for stats on this. Since May, Donald Trump has been on 36 times on FOX, Jeb Bush has been on three times. And you look at all the other candidates and their appearances on FNC has been pretty balanced. Charles, your thoughts about all this?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, I think the accusations against FOX, particularly the conspiracy theories, are really out of line. Those are tough questions, and to say they were only at Donald Trump -- the first question to Dr. Carson was about a lot of the flubs he did, the contradictions, the Baltic States. They were all tough questions, most of them, especially in the first round, about contradictions or mistakes that the candidates have made.

Look, in the Rosen piece I thought earlier in the show was really interesting. And he showed what actually happened in the debate. As a result of what happened after the debate, it's as if the debate itself never really happened. Think about the fact that in the afternoon debate Carly Fiorina emerged in the absence of the other hoopla as a very serious candidate everybody had discovered. The fact is if history stopped at the end of the debate and we hadn't had the stuff happening over the weekend, we would be talking about exactly what Rosen had showed, the debate over expanding Medicare that you saw among the candidates.

BAIER: Let me run some of the substance from the debate, some of things that perhaps got overlooked James Rosen mentioned, some of them. Take a listen.


TRUMP: -- system without the artificial lines around every state. Get rid of the artificial lines and you will have yourself great plans. And then we have to take care of the people who can't take care of themselves, and I will do that through a different system.

SEN. RAND PAUL, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ISIS rides around in a billion dollars worth of U.S. Humvees. We didn't create ISIS. ISIS created themselves. But we will stop them, and one of the ways we stop them is by not funding them and by not arming them.

GOV. JEB BUSH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that the great majority of people coming here illegally have no other option. They want to provide for their family. But we need to control our border. And there should be a path to earned legal status for those who are here, not amnesty, earned legal status, which means you pay a fine and do many things over an extended period of time.

BEN CARSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a significantly changed taxation system. And the one that I've advocated is based on tithing because I think God is a pretty fair guy. You make $10 billion, you pay $1 billion. You make $10, you pay $1. And everybody gets treated the same way. And you get rid of the deductions and you get rid of all the loopholes.


BAIER: Basically, the point being, we covered a lot of topics, Chuck.

LANE: Yes, and watching that debate, and even more watching it again, I sort of have the feeling there were two debates going on. Over here on one level you had several candidates, Trump foremost among them, but also Huckabee and Cruz who were addressing the people Laura is talking about at a very emotional level, at a very attitudinal level.

INGRAHAM: That's what drives people crazy, let me just tell you that.

LANE: Donald Trump was and is all emotion.

INGRAHAM: Ted Cruz --

LANE: All emotion, but in a very high level of generalities. And then over here you have a bunch of people like Jeb and like Scott Walker and Marco Rubio who are sort of talking about, you know, governance and means and ends and policies and plans and stuff. And it's amazing how little interest there is in the latter group. People really are looking for the kinds of answers that this first group is proposing. I'm sorry if the word "emotional" offends some people, but it remains the fact that Donald Trump, despite identifying all these issues, however real they may be, has yet to say in any serious what he will do.

BAIER: Let's be honest. There would not be 24 million tuning in if Donald Trump was not on that stage, clearly. There were 6.1 million who tuned in to the early debate. That's a really high number for 5:00 in the afternoon, 2:00 on the west coast. There are people hungry for politics, but there's something happening here.

INGRAHAM: There is. There is a coming crack up in the Republican Party if Republicans don't let this play out. Let it play out. If Donald Trump is as ill-equipped, if he's not a conservative, he'll fade away. Donald Trump will stumble and fade away, if that happens. That's fine. Let it happen. The people are going to figure this out for themselves.

And we can talk about it. We can analyze it, this question asked this, this person disinvited that person. But in the end the country is either going in a better direction under Boehner, McConnell, Obama, and all these policies, or it's not. And I submit that there are a lot of people in this country in both parties that think these guys have had their way for a long time. Let's try some new policies.

KRAUTHAMMER: But it isn't as if Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz and Kasich and all the others are the ones that people are angry about, the ones who personify Washington. You had on that stage very strong candidates. And if you were to take away the glitz and the buzz and all of the smoke, you would have seen the strongest field of candidates that the Republicans have had in 30 years.

And I think one of the reasons that at the end of the debate Donald Trump decided that he would make this into a war on the moderators and the war is on FOX is because I think he thinks he lost. If you win a debate, you don't start a war attacking the moderators, and he has succeeded. He's a brilliant showman. He has succeeded in doing, taking all the attention from what actually happened in the debate.

And I think the GOP will rue the day because this is a great opportunity to show off the field.

BAIER: We're big boys and girls. We're fine. Not But n lot of people on my e-mail are worried about us.

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm not worried about you. I'm worried about the GOP and the changing the White House a year-and-a-half from now. And it won't happen if these good candidates are completely obscured.

INGRAHAM: It also won't happen if the 20 percent, let's say it is 20 percent of people in the party who ultimately like Donald Trump, it also won't work if those people feel like there's no place for them anymore. So I think we have to grow the party. But if they feel like they're the vulgarians that they're being described as I could say all of our emails are going to get a lot uglier.

KRAUTHAMMER: You're saying in the absence of Trump there is nobody who can win?

INGRAHAM: No. I'm not advocating Trump. I just told you he's a symptom, Charles. What I'm trying to say don't exclude those people.

KRAUTHAMMER: Who is excluding those people?

INGRAHAM: Don't call them emotional. They're real people with real lives.

LANE: My Twitter feed has a lot of emotional tweets on them.

INGRAHAM: Right. They're angry not for the sake of being angry. They are angry because feel like America is slipping away. And they'd like an America back that works for all people, including them. That's all. They're not terrible people.

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm not attacking them. All I'm saying you're implying there is a certainly person that can represent them --

INGRAHAM: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

KRAUTHAMMER: There isn't.

INGRAHAM: I completely agree with you.

KRAUTHAMMER: So we agree.

INGRAHAM: Yes. Isn't that nice?

BAIER: I'd like to end that panel with that.

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