Is the GOP shifting on the issue of free trade?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 27, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESUMPTIVE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think that's why I'm doing so well in the polls before I even really start. I think that you look at some of the states I'm up, and I'm even in some of the major stating. And, yes, I think that's probably a part of it. It's happening. It's really happening. And I see it very strongly in the United States, and you see it, really now you see it all over the world.

HILLARY CLINTON, PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: When Britain voted to leave the European Union, he crowed about how the disruption could end up creating higher profits for his golf course, even though in 24 hours, Americans lost, we Americans lost $100 billion in value from our 401(k)s.


BAIER: Well, the two major candidates talking about Brexit and the political fallout here. This as some new polls that came out today. NBC/Wall Street Journal poll between Clinton and Trump has it at five points. There you see 46-41. The ABC/Washington Post poll separates it by 12. You can see the difference from May to June. It's down to 10 with all the candidates, the third party, as well. And then the Real Clear Politics average of polls, this is the latest polls. And there you see 6.8, I believe it is.

So with that, let's bring in our panel: syndicated columnist George Will; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and editor in chief of Lifezette, Laura Ingraham. George, we debated what we're going to put you in the middle seat tonight after the weekend's news. We wanted to clear the deck. You talked about it. You said the Republican Party is leaving you, and the fallout obviously Donald Trump saying that you lost your way long ago.


GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think I'll find my way even without his guidance. I think the Republican Party is in some turmoil. Turmoil can be healthy. And there are those who say we should wait and rule the rubble after November.

BAIER: So for the people who say by encouraging Republicans to vote -- to not vote for Trump, that you are essentially voting for Hillary Clinton, what do you say?

WILL: I say, a, not voting is an expression of opinion, which is what voting is for. Second, Hillary Clinton for four years would be a terrible thing, but it would be a terrible thing resisted tooth and nail by a united Republican Party. A President Trump vowing to double down on the executive authoritarianism of the current president would confront, I'm afraid, a supine and invertebrate Republican Party.

BAIER: And last thing, because I got tweets and and everything else, for those who say you're voting not necessarily for Trump but you're also voting for the Supreme Court seats that this next president will put on the bench.

WILL: That's serious consideration, and those who have supreme confidence in Donald Trump's jurisprudential thinking, they can say perhaps he should be trusted with that. On the other hand, there's the other two branches of government to worry about.

BAIER: All right, Mara, the fallout of the Brexit, how does it play?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: The fallout of the Brexit was really, really interesting. Donald Trump was triumphant. He said I was for this, it amplifies my message. He's against trade deals, although the Brexit vote, some of the leavers were actually for free trade by they were against immigration. And now I think the question for Donald Trump is, can he amplify that message, that anti-elite, anti-globalization message? Is he a disciplined enough messenger to do that? And I think that's been the question all along. But he's got another opportunity. Tomorrow he's going to go to two rustbelt state, Pennsylvania and Ohio. He's got a real opportunity to do that, and we'll see if he can.

BAIER: Laura?

LAURA INGRAHAM, LIFEZETTE.COM: First of all, I just want to respond a little bit to what George said. It's a pretty big gamble to think that we can withstand four years of Hillary Clinton knowing that she's going to do. We know what she's going to do. It's very clear and she's laid it out. A radical leftwing agenda, at least two seats on the Supreme Court. We've seen two terrible decisions just in the past two days. We saw a terrible affirmative action decision. We saw an abortion decision which was five-three so it wouldn't even have made a difference with Scalia. But nevertheless, two seats would make a difference.

So I think just on the Supreme Court alone, that is just a catastrophic loss for conservatism. Anyone who cares about original meaning, original intent, and everything from Steve Colloton to Allison Eid, who are both on Trump's shortlist of Supreme Court justices would be fabulous. I respect George and people can do whatever they want in November, but that's a big gamble.

On the issue with Brexit, it's an independence movement. And we're -- George wrote a great column about this. I wrote about this as well on Lifezette. This is a moment to think about sovereignty, national interests, national defense, borders, immigration. And he's not against trade, Mara. Trump is for trade deals that work for the America people. And the last three big trade deals, NAFTA, even the Korean free trade deal and obviously China going to the WTO have been disastrous for the American worker. He's not against trade. He's for smart trade.

Tomorrow he's giving a speech about trade. I think we'll see whether he can put together this message in a coherent way that ties some of his economic ideas to a smart, more market efficient trade policy, which I think would be great.

BAIER: Is the GOP changing on this issue of trade? Is it shifting or is it temporary?

WILL: It clearly is shifting somewhat. The only academic field that has moved to the right in the last 50 years is economics, in part because the Chicago school and others, Milton Friedman, Stigler and the rest, have convinced the world of what seemed to be obvious from David Ricardo on, which is that under the doctrine of comparative advantage, everyone benefits from free trade. That is now in doubt.

Now, there's really no election evidence in this -- in the last century that protectionism is a political winner. What Mr. Trump is doing is going back to -- he's a good 19th century Republican when the Republicans, the government was funded, had no income tax, it was funded by selling land and tariffs, and the Republican Party was the party of tariffs to protect industry with crony capitalism writ large.

LIASSON: Can I just say something about trade? Free trade was once described as everyone gets a discount, some people lose their jobs. And that's what is so tough about selling free trade because the everyone gets a discount part is pretty abstract and ephemeral and people don't really feel that. But if you lost your job because of trade, if you had a steel plant in your community and it's not there anymore, you know it's gone.

BAIER: Is Trump closer to Bernie Sanders or the GOP on trade?

INGRAHAM: He and Bernie Sanders come at it for different reasons. But I think, back to this point about whether trade is always going to be unfairly punishing one sector. Ronald Reagan imposed temporary tariffs on Harley Davidson, wildly popular. George W. Bush posed temporary steel tariffs on cheap Chinese cold-rolled steel which is notoriously cheating on their obligations under interview agreement.

So it's nice to cite high economics and Milton Friedman and that all sounds very high and intellectual. But the bottom line is, if the trade deals cost so much to enforce for American corporations, at what point does America stand up and say, you know something, we actually have to stand up for ourselves. It doesn't mean you just flat tariffs on anything for just fun. But when we are not getting relief and the cheating is notorious, why should we sell out our sovereignty and our economic future to some unaccountable bureaucrats on the international trade committee?

BAIER: Quickly, because I want to turn to one more topic, but go ahead.

WILL: Mr. Trump has promised to go down the aisles of Wal-Mart stamping 45 percent increases on all the Chinese imports.

INGRAHAM: Are you ever for tariffs, George?

WILL: Never.


WILL: It would send people that go to Wal-mart, making Wal-mart our largest private sector employee.

BAIER: Let me turn to this last topic, and that is Elizabeth Warren, she has rolled out today, she has this event with Hillary Clinton. Is this a test run for a possible VP?

LIASSON: I tend to think she's on the bottom of the very short list of VP possibilities. But she is some wingman, or wing woman for Hillary Clinton. And you saw that today. She really gives it to Donald Trump in a way that Hillary Clinton doesn't. And I think she's a great asset for Clinton. I think she'll help bring some of the Sanders voters into the fold. No, I don't think she's going to be on the ticket.

BAIER: And they both like blue. OK, Laura, last word.

INGRAHAM: Elizabeth Warren is an attack dog, and I think she does a great job of it, most of it is personal insults. When Trump insults her, everyone says this is horrific. When she insults Trump, it's like she's so brave and so effective. So two different standard, and I think she can play the woman card for the insult game.

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