CBS This Morning Asks, Do Republicans 'Deserve' Donald Trump?

In a discussion on Trump's chances to win the Republican nomination on CBS This Morning today, anchor Norah O'Donnell bluntly asked Republican guest and CBS contributor Rick Davis, "Does your party deserve this candidate?"

Davis, the former presidential campaign manager for John McCain, stated that Trump was “exactly what we created.” Blaming the conservative movement’s criticism of government and the establishment GOP over the years, Davis asked rhetorically,“[W]hen you throw people under the bus constantly, what do you think the voters are going to get the message on?”

Then Davis announced this race was all over.

"It’s wrapped up. I mean, last night, someone needed to land a knock-out punch, and it didn’t even look like they came to box."

O’Donnell brought up an average from Real Clear Politics, which shows Trump as the only GOP candidate that stands to lose to Hillary Clinton, if nominated.  Davis reiterated that though Trump was the least likely to do well, electability was not an issue for most GOP voters.

Co-anchor Charlie Rose then jumped in to add, [W]ill he [Trump] destroy the party?” to which Davis responded, “I think the party is in the process of trying to figure out how to do that to do themselves, right?”

See the full transcript from the March 4 episode of CBS This Morning below:

CHARLIE ROSE: You know politics, has Trump wrapped this up already?

RICK DAVIS [CBS News contributor, former campaign manager for John McCain] : Yeah. It’s wrapped up. I mean, last night, someone needed to land a knock-out punch, and it didn’t even look like they came to box.

SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: Chris Christie has said that the real risks, if you alienate the voters if you tell them your choice is just wrong, isn't that why at the ends of the night they sort of wrap it all up and say, “ We support what the voters do?”

DAVIS: Well I think you got to start with the real risk is nominating Donald Trump, right? Because he is the least likely person to win this election but we’ve seen throughout the course of all of this election voters don't seem to care about electability they care about wanting to throw a brick at a glass wall of Washington. Yeah, I think that there’s something to that. And I think that’s what the establishment of the Republican party has to start getting used to the idea that Donald Trump’s going to be their nominee.

NORAH O’DONNELL: You talked about a knockout punch. I mean, In the past, if a candidate said I'm changing my position, I'm softening my position that usually would have been enough.

DAVIS: Yeah, but Donald Trump, his entire candidacy is not based on ideology or issue position. It’s based off of, “I’m not one of them.” And basically everybody on the stage was basically the establishment and the people coming after Donald Trump and what they did was they gave him nine months to solidify his base. He has the most intense supporters in this entire election. When you look at the numbers, his people aren't going anywhere. 

O’DONNELL: Does your party deserve this candidate?

DAVIS: I think it's exactly what we created. When you spend years, you know, saying that the institutions that you have built, the Republican party, the Congress, the White House are all corrupt and even within your own party when you throw people under the bus constantly, what do you think the voters are going to get the message on?

O’DONNELL: I want to show you this. One point that Donald Trump made repeatedly last night was about his electability and his ability to defeat Hillary Clinton. He claimed multiple times the polls show that he would beat Hillary Clinton. But if you take a look at Real Clear Politics average, in fact, he is the only one on that stage who would not defeat Hillary Clinton if the election were held today.

DAVIS: Yeah. He is the least likely candidate to do well and I think that is the panic that the establishment has is that we could actually drop an election that’s in a very good year for Republicans, a third term of Barack Obama is not an attractive concept. And she has taken that as part of her campaign.

O’DONNELL: And just to be clear. Donald Trump said that is one poll. This is the average of the polls here and Donald Trump fares the worst.

DAVIS: Yeah, but I don't think it's an issue, right? When you look at these exit polls from these primaries, it's maybe 12, 15% of the voters think electability is the number one issue.

ROSE: What is interesting about this it seems from John McCain and from Mitt Romney and from other Republicans, they just don't think he’s qualified to be president. They seem to be saying we genuinely worry about the future of the country if Donald Trump is president.

DAVIS: I think their concerns are well-founded and concerns are legitimate. They come at this with an open mind. They know politics isn't bean bagging and you don't always get the candidate you want. But this candidate particularly raises concerns about whether or not he could really administrator the nation.

ROSE: And secondly, will he destroy the party?

DAVIS: I think the party is in the process of trying to figure out how to do that to themselves, right? I mean, I wouldn't blame Donald Trump. The rest of them have been complicit in this. They let Donald Trump grow. Ted Cruz stood next to Donald Trump for nine debates and never attacked him one single time. Now he is complaining that, you know, he doesn't get enough time to beat him up.

ROSE: As Norah said, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

O’DONNELL: I didn't say that. No, I didn't say that.

ROSE: Not me!

O’DONNELL: No, I said is this the candidate that the party deserved? I asked the question. Yeah. Okay. Rick Davis, thank you.

 
Kristine Marsh
Kristine Marsh
Kristine Marsh is an analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division.