OTR Interviews

Huckabee: Trump's playing the delegate controversy 'brilliantly'

Mike Huckabee goes 'On the Record' with his analysis of Donald Trump's Wall Street Journal op-ed and why he believes it sums up his appeal to blue-collar Americans


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 15, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN,FOX NEWS HOST: Donald Trump opens up a new front. It's not just big rallies and debates. Today, the GOP front-runner taking to the editorial pages, writing an op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal" that leaves his usual brash behavior at the door.


DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, my rallies are the safest places to be on Earth. And nobody wants to report that. The dishonest media will never report that.

"Lyin' Ted Cruz." Ever heard of him?

Boy, he's going way down in the polls. He is now third. A lot of people, they tell me, I don't know, but they tell me, they like Trump because he is a straight talker. The honest truth, we have to be straight talkers. This political correctness is killing our country. It's killing us. It's killing us.


VAN SUSTEREN: Former presidential candidate and Donald Trump supporter, Governor Mike Huckabee, goes ON THE RECORD.

Good evening, governor.


Now, I have not endorsed anybody. I think everybody believes I'm a supporter. Look, I have been a defender of Donald Trump because I feel like that a lot of people have misrepresented his message. He beat me, so it's not like I'm putting my arms around him, you know, in an endorsing way.

But, you know, he is the leader. He is the one who has captured the attention of America.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think about the op-ed -- the op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal?"

I mean, he is pretty much indicting the delegates system, at least as far as Colorado goes, saying things like that the nominee is chosen by delegates and not by the people.

HUCKABEE: Well, he is spot-on. I thought it was a brilliant editorial. And what he did, which was so masterful, and frankly, it was an important pivot for him to make.

Because the last couple of weeks, he has talked a whole lot about how he has been mistreated. What he did brilliantly in this editorial was to tie his treatment from the political class to the treatment that Americans are feeling from the political class.

And the last sentence in the editorial, I thought sums it up.

He said, you know, "The politicians and the political class have had it their way for a long time. Let 2016 be the year that the American people get theirs."

And that's why Donald Trump has done so well. He has touched that nerve of people who are sick and tired of the political class running all over them.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why in the "Wall Street Journal" op-ed page? Because chances are when he stands up in front of a rally, and all the news organizations take his words, he is going to get a lot more people hearing it than who may be reading the "Wall Street Journal" at an op-ed page.

And, frankly, do you know what I mean? It's not going to reach, you know, the demographics that he might necessarily want to reach.

HUCKABEE: Well, chances are there were readers of the "Wall Street Journal" all over America, who were spewing their copy as they read Donald Trump's words in the paper. But that was precisely the point.

He took his message to the people who were least ready to receive it. But guess what, we are talking about it tonight. And all day long, people have been talking about it.

So, again, it was a smart move on his part showing that uncanny, savvy he has in getting the media to focus on what he is saying.

VAN SUSTEREN: I get his principle that the delegates in Colorado choose the nominee, and the delegates are chosen by the so-called party elite, not by the voters. I get that objection to it.

What I don't quite understand, though, is that this wasn't something that was sprung on him last week. That this apparently were part of the rules and the rules were disclosed to all the candidates, I assume you as well, on October 1st.

So is it a little bit too late to sort of have this after he has lost those delegates to suddenly complain about it?

HUCKABEE: Well, look, the rules are indeed the rules. But, there is another fact about this that I think he has been right about. Sometimes these rules can be manipulated. And it really means that when a person gets the most votes, you would assume, well, they are going to get the delegates.

But if you don't even have votes, it may be what's legal. But I think a lot of people would say, but that's just not right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Right. I got that.

HUCKABEE: We're supposed to have an election, not a selection.

VAN SUSTEREN: I got that. But the problem is because of the timing of it, that because it wasn't done last October, after he lost the delegates.

Naturally, the criticism is going to be that he might not have criticized it had he won all the delegates in Colorado. And I guess that's still a problem. And maybe it's just his campaign was a little bit behind in terms of reading the rules of the various states.

But it's a timing issue, I think, that's going to come back to haunt him a little bit on this.

HUCKABEE: Oh, no doubt.

But, look, Greta. Let's be honest. If Trump had won Colorado and gotten all the delegates, he wouldn't have said, gee, that's not fair. I got all the delegates. Let me give some away. But I understand that.

But in politics when you're explaining, you're losing. And here's what has happened.

He has made the charge that it was a rigged deal. And now you have the Colorado Republican Convention, you have the RNC and you have Ted Cruz trying to explain the process.

They're losing. He is winning the argument. Because all he has to do is to say, gee, it wasn't fair. And they have to go in and explain the fine print. And that's where you always lose, politically, is when you have to explain something.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, you know, I think I agree that the whole process seems a little bit silly. Every state has a different set of rules. And so, I mean, I can understand why everybody thinks -- a lot of people think it's a pretty nutty system from coast to coast. But, anyway, governor, thank you for joining us.

HUCKABEE: Great to be here, Greta.