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Journal Editorial Report

Republicans begin the Trump takedown campaign

This is a rush transcript from "Journal: Editorial Report," November 28, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST:  This week on the "Journal: Editorial Report," fellow Republicans begin a campaign to take down Donald Trump but will the strategy really hurt the GOP front runner?  And who is the most likely to benefit?

Plus, as protests continue to spread at colleges across the country, is free speech the latest casualty of the campus left.

All that, and Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan, on culture, politics and the time of our lives.

But first, these headlines.

(FOX NEWS REPORT)

GIGOT:  Welcome to the "Journal: Editorial Report."  I'm Paul Gigot.

Well, as Donald Trump continues to hold his lead in national polls in an early primary state, the "Wall Street Journal" reported last week that some GOP super PACs are setting their sights on the Republican front-runner.  This week, one supporting Ohio Governor John Kasich released its first direct attack featuring some of Trump's more controversial comments.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  He's not a war hero.  

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP:  He's a war hero because he was captured.  

If Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps I would be dating her.  

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That's so weird.  

TRUMP (voice-over):  I have a great relationship with the blacks.  I have always had a great relationship with the blacks.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The blacks.  

TRUMP:  Well, I just don't respect her as a journalist.  You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her -- wherever.  

Somebody's doing the raping, Don.  You know, I mean, somebody is doing it.  There are women being raped.  Who's doing the raping?  

It moves this way.  It moves this way.  

How stupid are the people of Iowa?  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIGOT:  Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; columnist, Jason Riley; and columnist, Kim Strassel.  

So, Kim, let's stipulate since the Paris attack, Donald Trump has risen in the polls a few points in Iowa and the early states.  It hasn't hurt them.  Is this kind of saying he isn't presidential, shouldn't be trusted to be commander-in-chief?  Is this the kind of attack that will work against Donald Trump?  

KIM STRASSEL, COLUMNIST:  The people putting it out there hope this one will work.  They have tried pretty much everything else.  They have gone after him for his past liberal positions.  They have gone after his policy positions that he has now, things like eminent domain, which aren't necessarily Kentucky.  This is a new attempt to say, do you really want this guy in charge?  

GIGOT:  What do you think, Kim?  Is it going to work?  

STRASSEL:  There is a possibility that it will.  The electorate is unsettled after Paris.  They want steady leadership.  Some immediate things he said have given him help in the polls.  As people look at it more closely and as the ad made clear, there will be more to come, this is a renewed focus on bringing him down.  

GIGOT:  Kim doesn't sound confident that it will work.  

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST:  It's interesting.  This Kasich super PAC is merely a vessel for a lot of people to put forward the attacks --  

GIGOT:  Oh, absolutely.  

RILEY:  -- Donald Trump.  A lot of people putting money into this aren't even John Kasich supporters.  

GIGOT:  That's correct.  

RILEY:  So there are a lot of people.  I think there is some desperation on the part of the Republican Party.  They fear that if Donald Trump is the nominee, they could lose in a landslide to Hillary Clinton, presumed Democratic nominee.  And it is simply because he's managed to offend so many subgroups from Muslims to blacks to --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  Hispanics.  

GIGOT:  -- Hispanics.  The country is so diverse.  The Republican Party feels it needs to tap in to some of these voters come the next election.  He's just offended too many people.  

GIGOT:  These are the quotes, Dan.  They are using Donald Trump's words against him.  I talked to Republicans and their reaction is who cares what he says?  It doesn't matter.  He's just sticking it to the man.  He's standing up to all the media, you, me, media elites.  Standing up to them so good for him.  

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR:  Yeah.  I think that has a lot to do with it.  His support seems to be solid at around 25 percent.  Goes up sometimes, down a little bit.  I think Trump is conveying contempt for the political system.  That reflects that 25 percent.  They, too, have contempt for what's going on in the political system and can't be moved off --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  So do we sometimes.  

HENNINGER:  Having said that, I think since the Paris attacks and the elevation, again, of the war on terror and what we are going to do about it.  Donald Trump has suddenly become vulnerable.  Questions will be asked whether he could serve as commander-in-chief.  I believe the rise of Ted Cruz in the latest poll this week in Iowa, at the expense of Ben Carson, the one who is immediately suffering because he may not have the --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  The commander-in-chief credentials.  

HENNINGER:  -- commander-in-chief.  Is beginning to show that people are focused now on substance.  Trump could have a problem there.  

RILEY:  I agree.  Carson clearly has shown since Paris he doesn't have a command of foreign policy that people are looking for.  Cruz is able to take advantage of it.  Trump doesn't have the expertise either, by the way.  He just has bluster.  Carson doesn't do bluster.  

GIGOT:  He has attitude.  

RILEY:  Yeah.  So I see that.  The problem I think Cruz has is he's managed to consolidate the most conservative elements of the GOP base.  You still have more moderate elements, business folks that are not satisfied with Cruz.  He'll have to work on getting people outside of his conservative base.  There is work to be done there.  

GIGOT:  Kim, who else?  Ted Cruz might benefit.  Who else might benefit if Donald Trump slides in the polls for the reasons Jason mentioned?  

STRASSEL:  Potentially anyone.  And I think that his why you see --  

GIGOT:  Anyone?  

STRASSEL:  -- so many of the donors willing to put money into the super PACs to go after him.  There are so many people in this race.  Things remain so fluid.  You talked about Ben Carson.  He shed a few points and it went to Ted Cruz and now people are talking about Ted Cruz as a contender in Iowa.  All of these other candidates are thinking if they could pull off seven or eight points from Donald Trump and it went to one of them or any of them that would be the opportunity to break out.  You have seen Chris Christie up in New Hampshire.  He's been very dogged in the work he's doing up there.  But he's having a moment, too, taking some points away from other people.  This is just still a very fluid race.  

GIGOT:  I agree.  I agree with you, Kim.  People should watch Chris Christie.  The New Jersey governor is somebody who is trying to hit the theme of commander-in-chief.  Somebody, day one, serious.  He has a really solid, blunt manner, but not with some of the extreme statements Donald Trump has.  

All right.  When we come back, as protests continue to spread at colleges nationwide, is free speech the latest casualty of the campus left?  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHANTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT:  Well, from California to New Hampshire, protests have now spread to an estimated 100 college campuses with students alleging systematic racial injustice.  At Dartmouth last week, about 150 protesters stormed the library chanting "Black Lives Matter" and reportedly cussing at students as they studied.  The protests at Dartmouth and elsewhere follow the resignation earlier this month of the University of Missouri's president after students there claimed he didn't do enough to address issues of racial intolerance on campus.  

We are back with Dan Henninger and Jason Riley.  And Wall Street Journal assistant editorial features editor, Kate Bachelder, also joins us.  

So, Kate, these institutions we're talking about are some of the most racially and gender conscious in the history of mankind, if I can use that word.  

(LAUGHTER)

Yet, these students are protesting racial and gender insensitivity.  What's going on?  

KATE BACHELDER, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL FEATURES EDITOR:  These are also, Paul, some of the most prestigious institutions in American history, right?  That sends students into the world to accomplish huge things.  What's going on here is students have basically been allowed to demand whatever they want, different curriculum, different faculty, and they are succeeding with administrators.  So why not?  Some tossed in "Please renovate our dorms."  

(LAUGHTER)

GIGOT:  Better health care!

BACHELDER:  Right.  

(LAUGHTER)

BACHELDER:  If you have administrators willing to give you what you want, you will ask for a lot.  

HENNINGER:  Honestly, I think this has been going on for a long time.  You have the office of diversity affairs in place for at least 15 years.  They have gotten bigger and bigger.  The left supported it.  I would go so far as to say what's happening here is a coup d'etat.  Coup de university.  They are trying to seize power at these universities.

(CROSSTALK)  

GIGOT:  A children's coup?  

HENNINGER:  A children's coup.  

(LAUGHTER)

At the University of Missouri they drove the president out of office.  They did with the dean at Claremont McKenna.  They will ruin these places once they gain control of them but I don't think they care about that.  

GIGOT:  Isn't free speech implicated here, Kate?  One of the things they don't like is when people dissent or speak up.  At Dartmouth, the protesters said they were criticizing the students because the students were studying instead of joining them in the protest.  They were accused of racial insensitivity for not joining the protest.  

BACHELDER:  Yes.  There is a disconnect between what students are asking for and what the sympathizers in the press are saying.  Oh, no, they are not trying to kill free speech.  The students say we don't want what offends us, programs and courses we don't like from people who are sinners and bad people.  This is -- basically there is a disconnect.  People aren't believing them for what they are saying, which is that we don't want free speech on campus.  

GIGOT:  Banishing Woodrow Wilson from Princeton.  

RILEY:  These kids are not victims of discrimination.  They're victims of liberalism, is what they are.  For the past 50 years, the left has controlled these campuses.  They have bent over backwards to make them more inclusive, more diverse using affirmative action, creating ethnic and gender studies program and so forth.  What they have inadvertently created is a culture of grievance, which is what we are seeing on display here.  To the extent they give in to these demands, they will only exacerbate the problem.  These kids mistake slogans like Black Lives Matter for arguments.  They don't know how to coherently address issues and policies.  It's sad.  These are bright kids who have been, I think, nurtured to the point where they are unable to coherently express a point of view.  

GIGOT:  Is there any pushback on administrators, students, anywhere across this system?  

BACHELDER:  At Princeton, a group of students sent a letter requesting a meeting with the president, not occupying his office --

(LAUGHTER)

-- and asking to discuss concerns that the university is an intellectual space, not a safe space, is under threat.  

GIGOT:  Will they get the meeting?  

BACHELDER:  That's a good question.

(LAUGHTER)

He should have said, come right now, I'm free immediately.  

(LAUGHTER)

GIGOT:  The larger question is why is there so little pushback other than isolated incidents like this, by a few students who, let's face it, will probably be vilified for doing this once word gets out who they are.  

HENNINGER:  I think often the presidents feel there is federal money at risk.  They don't want to inflame the federal government that controls the purse strings.  But the real question is, where are --

(CROSSTALK)  

GIGOT:  Because the federal government is pushing these kinds of --

(CROSSTALK)

HENNINGER:  Student loans, Pell grants, plus --

(CROSSTALK)

HENNINGER:  The government under Obama has been suggesting there should be more of this sort of thing.  But where are the boards of trustees of the universities, the adults who supposedly are trying to maintain them as places of learning instead of places of chaos?  

GIGOT:  Is that the answer, Kate?  Basically, we'll hold your checkbook if you're a donor?  I mean, you know.

BACHELDER:  I'm not sure.  I think being more involved in going to campus, putting pressure on these trustees and presidents and saying, hey, this isn't what the institution stands for is a better route.  

GIGOT:  I don't think that's going to happen, as much as I wish it would.  

(LAUGHTER)

All right, thank you all.  

When we come back, Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan, joins us with her take on campus culture and campaign politics.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT:  There's nobody better to weigh in on the current battles being waged on college campuses and the campaign trail than Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan.  She is the author of the new book "The Time of Our Lives, A Collection of Writings on Politics and Culture."  

Peggy, welcome back to the show.  

PEGGY NOONAN, WALL STREET JOURNAL COLUMNIST:  Thank you, Paul.  Thank you.  

GIGOT:  So a question I get a lot about is this is a book of a collection of your writings and some auto biographical information on how you became a writer.  Is it harder in your estimation to write for somebody else as you did for politicians and presidents or under your own name?  

NOONAN:  It's very funny.  A variation on what you just asked is the question I get, which is how do you find your voice?  I tell people, you have a voice, you sound just like you when you write because you are you.  

(LAUGHTER)

When I was writing for Ronald Reagan, we knew what he knew, what he'd read.  You could listen to him and hear a certain rolling speech, a kind of easy, ambling speech.  

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  You have to find his voice.  

NOONAN:  You have to find his voice.  That's how I imagined him.  I have never quite defined how I expressed myself.  I would probably get self- conscious --

(LAUGHTER)

-- if I did.  It just occurred to me.  

GIGOT:  And we'd see what that is.  

NOONAN:  It's easier for you to be yourself, sure.  

GIGOT:  OK.  Let's talk about the college campus uprisings.  You've watched them.  What do you make of this?  

NOONAN:  I think it is a real movement that we are properly alarmed about.  
This is an actual movement that is a censorship movement that is being carried out by people who seem to have no awareness of, understanding of, or appreciation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  They seem to me -- they claim to be intimidated.  "I need a safe space.  You can't say things that hurt me."  In fact, when you watch them on videotape at all of these schools, they're surrounding people, trying to push them away.  They seem not intimidated, but intimidators.  It feels -- I've been trying to figure out, what is the right word?  Is this Stalinist?  Is this like the Chinese cultural revolution?  The most irritating thing about it perhaps is that these young people are very lucky and don't seem to know it.  They're operating at America's greatest universities.  They are so lucky.  

GIGOT:  Some of them are elite.  They're going to run the country.  

NOONAN:  Yes.  They come from something lucky is sort of what you can infer from the pictures of them.  And what they have from that is bitterness and wild anger, which doesn't make sense.  

But anyway, I think they should be stopped.  I wish an administrator would stand up and say, guess what, we stand for academic freedom here, intellectual freedom.  The free exchange of ideas, they may hurt you, they may make you happy, it doesn't matter.  This is life.  We stand for that.  If you can't take it, you're allowed to leave.  This isn't prison.  It's a college you paid to go to.  

GIGOT:  Let's talk about the presidential campaign.  You've written a lot about the outsiders in the campaign, the populist, for lack of a better word,  mood out there in the general electorate.  What do you make of the Trump phenomenon?  Could he win the nomination?  

NOONAN:  I think he could win the nomination.  I think it might come down, as Dan Henninger says, it might come down to a heck of a fight at the convention between --

(LAUGHTER)  

GIGOT:  We're not that lucky, Petty.  I don't know.  

(LAUGHTER)

NOONAN:  -- forces and establishment forces, whatever these words mean now.

But one of the things going on about Trump is that he's making a big mistake.  When Trump first came forward and announced and garnered popularity, he got that popular because he hit a nerve about immigration --

GIGOT:  Right.

NOONAN:  -- illegal immigration.  I am going to stop.  I'm going to build an actual wall.  I'm going to make that end.  People want that.  They like it.  You can see it in the polls.  Then he goes to, and by the way, we're going to deport 10 million immigrants that live here.  Nobody really knows the number.  Everybody is fibbing or really just unformed.  Here's the thing.  I talked to Trump supporters all the time.  They are in love with this stop illegal immigration.  They're not in love with this deportation stuff.  They never talk about it.  I think they believe he's kidding about deporting people, but serious about the wall.  

GIGOT:  Fascinating.

NOONAN:  Yeah.

GIGOT:  Very interesting. Peggy Noonan, thank you.  

The book, "The Time of Our Lives."  

Thanks for coming. We have to take one more break.  When we come back, "Hits and Misses" of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT:  Time now for our "Hits and Misses" of the week.  

Kim, start us off.

STRASSEL:  A hit to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley who is simply refusing to let this Clinton e-mail scandal fade away.  In the past week, Senator Grassley has sent a letter to the woman who we now know was in charge of deleting some of Hillary Clinton's e-mails to ask more about that process.  He's got a hold on a senior State Department senior official that the president has nominated and says he will not allow that appointment to go forward until he gets more documents from the State Department.  The Clintons depend on this, on the media and the public losing interest in their misdeeds, so good for Senator Grassley for not letting it drop.  

GIGOT:  All right, thanks, Kim.

Kate?

BACHELDER:  This is a miss for a Texas family who is suing a city and school district for $15 million in damages.  A young boy brought in a clock and his teachers overreacted and thought it was a bomb.  But as an apology for this, he won an invitation to the White House to chat with the president.  

(LAUGHTER)

He got internship offers from Twitter messages from Mark Zuckerberg and many more.  But this was not enough.  And the family announced they are moving to Qatar, but not before shaking down a school district.  

(LAUGHTER)

GIGOT:  All right.

Dan?

HENNINGER:  This is a miss that even Democrats themselves talk about, which is that once you get past Barack Obama, the only conceivable Democrats who could run for president are all oldies but goods, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry.  There's just no up-and-comers in the party.  Look no further than the announcement this week by Congressman John Conyers, of Detroit, that he would run again.  He has been in Congress since 1964.  27 terms.  These impenetrably safe House seats and Senate seats are the reason the Democrats have turned into a gerontocracy.  

GIGOT:  All right, Dan, thank you.  

Remember, if you have your own hit or miss, be sure to tweet it to us @jeronfnc.  

That's it for this week's show.  Thanks to my panel and especially to all of you for watching.  I'm Paul Gigot.  Hope to see you right here next week.

END

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