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Journal Editorial Report

Can Trump win without the Republican establishment?

This is a rush transcript from "Journal: Editorial Report," May 7, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, FOX HOST:  This week on the "Journal: Editorial Report," Donald Trump now the presumptive GOP nominee and Democrats are on the attack. Will Republicans unite behind him?  Does it matter?  

Plus, political chaos in Baghdad and a Navy SEAL killed in an ISIS attack. Is the U.S. losing Iraq?  

And the "Wall Street Journal's" own Jason Riley, the latest victim of the liberal lunacy on college campuses.  Will he speak at Virginia Tech after all?  Find out after these headlines.  

(FOX NEWS REPORT)

VARNEY:  Welcome to the "Journal: Editorial Report." I'm Stuart Varney, in this week for Paul Gigot.

Donald Trump now the presumptive Republican nominee, after a big win in Indiana Tuesday knocked both remaining rivals out of the presidential race. And Hillary Clinton?  She may have lost to Bernie Sanders in the Hoosier state, but she's not wasting any time looking ahead to the general and attacking Donald Trump with the words of his fellow Republicans.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I am a unifier.  We're going to be a unified party.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA., FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  He's a con artist.  

MITT ROMNEY, R-FORMER WISCONSIN GOVERNOR & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: A phony.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Donald Trump is the know-nothing candidate.  

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Donald is a bully.  

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C., FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.  

CRUZ:  A narcissist at a level I don't think this country has ever seen.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARNEY:  Well, now that we're off and running, joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; columnists, Mary Anastasia O'Grady and Jason Riley; and Mary Kissel, host of "Opinion Journal" on "Wall Street Journal Live."  

All right, Dan, I'll start with you.  

Can Donald Trump win without the support of the establishment Republican Party?  

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR:  I think it would be long shot. Let's start by saying if the election were being held next Tuesday, he would probably lose.  

Look, let's understand that in the primaries, only 19 percent of the available electorate has voted so far.  Upwards of 80 percent of the people are still sitting out there trying to make up their mind, so he has a long time to make the sale.  But two days after the nomination, having this division created between Paul Ryan and himself, suggests that the party is not unified no matter what he says.  And that is going to create, at this point, confusion all through the party and in the states.  I mean, surely, he can run a campaign based entirely on his persona, but in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin, he needs the party leadership to be able to get behind them, but they have to know what they are voting for and, at the moment, it's not clear.  

VARNEY:  His ace in the hole, Mary, is that, if you don't vote for me, rally around me, you give the election to Hillary Clinton.  That's a pretty strong card to be played.  

MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, COLUMNIST:  I think it's safe to say that Hillary is the unifier for the Republicans by -- you know, there's no question about that.  But I think that he's going to have an extremely difficult time bringing on board limited-government, free-trade Republicans.  He's more like a Democrat in every way except he doesn't have the nice manners.  He believes in --

(LAUGHTER)

He believes in protectionism.  He wants to tax the rich.  You know, he is not a free-market Republican.  And that is what Republicans have spent the last 25 years trying to build.  And Mexico is exhibit "A" of that and he wants to destroy it.  

VARNEY:  Jason?

JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST:  I'm not so sure Trump's goal is to unify the party so much as to remake the party, the traditional Republican coalition, defense hawks, free-market conservatives and social conservatives.  Donald Trump leans towards isolationism, is pretty much anti-free trade, and he's still learning the language of social conservativism because he's only been one for a short period of time.  He's going to -- I don't think that his goal is to go into this general election and try to assemble that traditional coalition.  He thinks he can pick off traditional Democratic voters, particularly blue collar whites in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.  So I'm not sure his goal at this point is really unity.  

VARNEY:  All right, Mary, can a reformulated Republican party win the election in November?  

MARY KISSEL, OPINION JOURNAL HOST, WALL STREET JOURNAL LIVE:  I think as Dan said, that's very, very difficult.  He has historically high negative ratings, 65 percent, compared to Hillary's 56 percent.  Republicans are basically getting a choice between Hillary Clinton and a former funder of Hillary Clinton.  

And I think, Jason, you may give him too much credit.

Donald Trump said this week it's not about the party.  It's about me. Indicating this is a cult of personality.  He waffles on every major issue, whether it's the minimum wage, tariffs against China, building the wall.  I think Americans are going to look at Donald Trump and say, is he going to be good for my prosperity.  And so far, the answer is no.  And will he keep us safe.  Again, so far, the answer to that is also no.  

VARNEY:  Let me chuck my two cents worth in here.  Donald Trump will argue, if you don't vote for me, Hillary's the president, and I'm the guy who's brought millions of people into this party, vote for me.  The Republican Party will say, OK, Donald, but you need our money, you need a billion dollars, come closer to us, maybe we'll come closer to you.  In the end, a deal, a unity deal.  

Am I crazy, Dan Henninger?  

HENNINGER:  Oh, I don't think you're entirely crazy.  He does need their money.  You need a lot of money to run, a billion dollars, and he's not going to put up a billion of his own money

I'd like to make one point about this election, which is that Trump and Bernie Sanders have proven to me, at least, that for a lot of voters, these discreet issues that Mary was just talking about don't matter that much anymore, as much we don't like to believe that.  They want to either make America great or, on Bernie's side, it's about income inequality.  That's all they need to know.  For Trump, the question is, how much of that percentage, the 80 percent who haven't voted yet, are being driven by pure emotion, which has been the content of his campaign so far, or how many people out there want to hear the message Mary's talking about.  That's what we're going to find out in the next six months.

VARNEY:  I do want to address the down-ballot votes because they're very, very important.  Is anyone here saying that Trump simply cannot carry those down-ballot votes?  Anybody?  

(CROSSTALK)

O'GRADY:  No.  No, if Trump is the Republican nominee, there will be big losses in the House.  Maybe the Republicans will hold, but there will be big losses, and I don't think they'll hold the Senate.  

VARNEY:  Mary?  

KISSEL:  I agree with that.  And I think the Paul Ryan comments this week gave some room down-ballot for Republicans who don't agree with Trump to distance themselves with the permission of the House speaker.  

VARNEY:  You're a bit more optimistic about these down-ballot votes, aren't you?  

RILEY:  No, no, I'm not.  I think that the Republican majorities will be in trouble and, of course, that means that picking Supreme Court nominees, in terms of Republican, will be in trouble as well.  

VARNEY:  All right, I think we've dealt with Donald Trump in the "A" block successfully.  

Thanks very much, everyone.  

When we come back, a large-scale ISIS attack outside Mosul leaves a Navy SEAL dead as political chaos in Baghdad continues to mount.  Question: Is the Obama administration losing Iraq?  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VARNEY:  U.S. Navy SEAL Charles Keating killed this week in Iraq in a gun battle with more than 100 Islamic State fighters outside the city of Mosul.  
It's being described as a coordinated and complex attack, one of the largest the terror group has launched in recent months.  It's just the latest in a string of setbacks for the Obama administration, which, last week, dispatched Vice President Biden to Baghdad amid the growing political turmoil there.

Wall Street Journal Global View columnist, Bret Stephens, joins us with more on this.  

Key question, Bret -- and I have to ask this -- is Iraq lost?  

BRET STEPHENS, GLOBAL VIEW COLUMNIST:  I think Iraq may have been lost in2011 when President Obama withdrew all troops.  Troops were leveraged. Troops were balanced between the competing interests.  Troops were our ability to control Iraqi politics and Troops were our ability suppress Shiite militias and Sunni militias, most of all, the Islamic State.  So, now you have president flying the kind of incrementalist strategy that's reminiscent of the Vietnam War in its very early stages under President Kennedy.  It's not -- it hasn't, so far, dislodged is from Iraq.  It hasn't prevented a political crisis from unfolding in Baghdad.  And it's very unlikely that anything like that is going to happen unless you have a commander-in-chief who's willing to be serious about the stakes of yet another Middle Eastern state that becomes a home to or a big home for ISIS.  

VARNEY:  On that note, the commander-in-chief, Barack Obama, does he want basically to leave, to get out?  Does he want to do that?  

HENNINGER:  He never wanted -- he wanted to leave, and he never wanted to be there.  I think it is a fundamental goal of Barack Obama's presidency not to commit himself to the Middle East.  Notwithstanding the fact he now has over 4,000 troops there.  Pretty much a brigade, which Bret has just suggested, he has gradually sent in there.  His goal in the Middle East was the Iranian nuclear deal.  He's got that done.  That's part of his legacy.  In his mind, what's going on in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan has nothing to do with him, so it's left the people like his defense secretary, Ash Carter, to try to hold the fort until we can get past this presidency.  I'm afraid that's the --

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHENS:  What's worse is that -- look, this hands the next president, whoever it may be, a terrible problem.  Because what we've learned is that we may want to leave the Middle East to itself, but the Middle East doesn't want to leave us alone, whether that's in the form of refugees or terror or intercontinental ballistic missiles in the hands of Iran.  So all of these are compounding problems that the next president is going to have to address with few more tools than the previous president has.  

VARNEY:  Mary, what does beat ISIS?  

O'GRADY:  Well, there's no doubt that to beat ISIS, we have to fight over there.  We can't sit here and try to pick them off through police work. And this is Barack Obama's big problem because not only, as Bret said, did he give Iraq back, but then when he finds our there's a problem in Syria, it's very hard to get the American public behind him when he says, OK, well, let's see, let's start over again in Syria.  What?  After we lost 4,000 guys and 10 times that with injuries, severe injuries?  So the problem that he has is this war has to be fought in the Middle East.  And you know, whether it's securing again Iraq or going into Syria, it's going to cost American lives again.  And his job, if he wanted to do his job, would be getting the American public behind that, and they are not behind it right now.  

VARNEY:  Can you see the American public at any point getting behind another large-scale troop operation --  

O'GRADY:  If there was an attack.  

VARNEY:  -- over there?

O'GRADY:  If there was an attack, another attack on our soil.

KISSEL:  Yeah.  And if the president described why we need to be over there.  This is what -- the other mistake that President Obama has made in this gradualist approach.  He hasn't explained why he's sending troops.  At least Defense Secretary Ash Carter had the decency to call this a combat death, which is exactly what it was.  We've effectively ceded the Middle East to Iran, whether it's Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and the next president is going to have to deal with this.  And it won't just take troops on the ground.  It will also take a political effort to get the moderate Sunnis back on our side.  

VARNEY:  Bret, last one, looks to me like this is shaping up to be a huge victory for Iran.  

STEPHENS:  Yes.  Look, the Iranians have been extending their influence not just in Iraq, which is 60 percent Shiite, but they've managed to support their man in Damascus, the Assad regime.  Hezbollah effectively dominates Lebanon.  So that Shiite crescent that people were warning about 10 years ago, that's very much -- that's exactly what's happening.  Tehran is the big winner from Obama's retreat from the Middle East.  

VARNEY:  All right, everybody.  

This is this is what we have still ahead.  The Wall Street Journal's own Jason Riley, the latest victim of the campus less speech police.  But will he deliver that address at Virginia Tech after all?  He will tell us when we come back.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VARNEY:  More of, dare I call it, liberal lunacy on campus?  The Wall Street Journal's very own Jason Riley is the latest victim.  And he's back, he's here to tell us about being invited, then dis-invited, and then re-invited to speak at Virginia Tech.  

That's quite an intro.  

(LAUGHTER)

So you were invited, you were dis-invited, now you have been re-invited. Here's the question: Are you going to speak?  

(LAUGHTER)

RILEY:  Yes, I do plan to speak.  

VARNEY:  Ah.

RILEY:  I said that if they issued an apology, public apology, for the way I had been mistreated and mischaracterized in their previous public explanations, I would, in fact, come back.  I was satisfied with the apology.  

VARNEY:  They apologized?  In writing?  

RILEY:  Yes.  They initially offered me to come speak, as someone in the business school invited me to give a pretty prominent lecture on campus that's given twice a year.  And 10 days later, they rescinded the invitation based on what they told me in the dis-invitation letter because of my writings on race in the Wall Street Journal. And I wrote a column about what happened to me, put it in the context of what's happened to way more important people than me.  This has happened to Condi Rice.  This happened to prominent journalists like George Will.  So there's a pattern here.  I talked about why campuses are so threatened by conservatism in general and black conservatism in particular.  

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHENS:  I do some public speaking as well.  I have dis-invitation envy.  

(LAUGHTER)

A dis-invitation from a university today is the single greatest honor one can receive.  

You mentioned some of the people, George Will, Secretary Rice.  This is really proof that you have gotten under the skin of liberal intelligencia. You've driven them so nuts that they will take this extraordinary step.  

There's the dis-invitation dinner that's now become a big event in New York among conservatives.  

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY:  Wait.  Are you serious?  There is such a thing?  

STEPHENS:  Yes.  

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY:  An invitation dinner.

VARNEY:  Wait a second.  You were dis-invited by the faculty.  Is that accurate?  Not the students?  

RILEY:  That's what's so sad about this.  You know, I have been speaking on campuses for 20 years.  I go give my speech, there's typically a spirited Q&A, but it's always civil.  I have never been shouted down by protesters, asked to never come back again, nothing like that at all.  I think I'm doing what college life is supposed to be about, challenging opinions, not seeing your ideological opponent as simply evil people that should be silenced, but debating them and hearing them out.  That's my typical experience on campuses.  

VARNEY:  You are describing the way a university should be, the free exchange of ideas.  

(CROSSTALK)

RILEY:  And what's really sad here is that it took pressure brought to bear from the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the Manhattan Institute, the National Association of Scholars, that's what it took for them to do the right thing.  They obviously didn't do it because they suddenly realized the importance of having a diverse set of views on campus.  They did it under pressure because they were embarrassed into doing it.  

(CROSSTALK)

KISSEL:  I think it's also important to note the ideas you were going to talk about, some of these themes, personal responsibility, not blaming white cops for black-on-black violence, talking about school choice and empowering minority --

(CROSSTALK)

RILEY:  Right.  If I wanted to go around the country praising the Black Lives Matter movement, I think I would have been welcomed at Virginia Tech with open arms.  I might have been invited to give the commencement.  

VARNEY:  In colleges today, black people are supposed to have a certain line of argument, a certain set of opinions.  Breach that, those lines, and you are out.  

RILEY:  Exactly.  

VARNEY:  But how far away are we from actually reversing that, so we get back to genuine give-and-take debate?  Are we close?  

RILEY:  We're quite a ways -- we're quite a ways away.  Again, this was the faculty doing this.  At other schools -- I recently spoke at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where the college Republicans invited me to speak.  They told me they vetted my name with black-student pressure groups to make sure I was acceptable and that there wouldn't be trouble if I came.  So conservative groups must vet their invitation list with liberal groups on campus.  These are kids doing it but they are taking their cues from adults like the ones at Virginia Tech.  

STEPHENS:  This is Orwellian.  And it's one of the many reasons why our system of modern education needs to be exploded.  I mean that figuratively, obviously, not literally.  Because we have a system of education in which ideological conformity has become the absolute litmus test for any kind of exchange of ideas.  That's not a place where you can make any kind of intellectual progress.  

VARNEY:  Congratulations.  

RILEY:  Thank you.

VARNEY:  You're going to go back and speak freely.  We like that.  We love it.  

RILEY:  They did the right thing in the end.  

VARNEY:  All right.

We do -- we have to take one more break.  I would like to continue forever but we have to take a break.

(LAUGHTER)

When we come back, our "Hits and Misses" of the week.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VARNEY:  It's time now for our "Hits and Misses" of the week.  

Jason, you're first.  

RILEY:  Stuart, this is a good riddance to Federal Judge -- New York Federal Judge Shira Sheindlin (ph), who is retiring from the bench.  She is best known for her rulings against Stop-and-Frisk and other pro-active police policies that keep New York City safe.  She's one of these liberals who sides with the criminals instead of their victims.  And I hope she enjoys her retirement as much as I will.  

VARNEY:  Wow, Jason, all right.

Mary, it's your turn.  

O'GRADY:  Stuart, this is a miss for the Venezuelan government, which has managed to make itself incredibly unpopular, not by destroying the supply of toilet paper in the country or bread or milk or cheese or meat, but beer.  Venezuelans are among the largest consumers of beer per capita in the world.  And apparently, now there is no more beer and no more beer- making ability in Venezuela.  And that is why the recall referendum, the collection of signatures for the recall referendum has gone so well.  

VARNEY:  One does drink heavily in a Socialist society.

(LAUGHTER)  

Dan, your turn.

HENNINGER:  Well, I'm giving a miss to Bernie Sanders, who is still out there running for the Democratic nomination.  And he was in West Virginia trying to exploit Hillary Clinton's problems with the miners down there.  What Bernie told them was, look, I'm all for climate change and I know this is going to destroy a lot of jobs down here, and what am I going to do about that?  I'm going to spend $41 billion rebuilding your community. Now, Bernie's from Brooklyn and there's a bridge there they are willing to buy.  

(LAUGHTER)

VARNEY:  All right, Dan.

Remember, please, if you have your own hit or miss, be sure to tweet it to us at JER on FNC.  

That's it for this week's show.  Thanks to my panel and to all of you for watching.  I'm Stuart Varney.  You can catch me weekdays on "Varney & Co." on the Fox Business Network.  We start sharp at 9:00 eastern.  Paul's back next week.  And we hope you can join us then.  

END

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