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Trump — with his delegate lead widening — could clinch the nomination next week

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a map, the states that voted on Super Tuesday form an almost unbroken band across the middle of the country, plus a few in the Midwest and New England. In Democratic caucuses and primaries, they all voted for President Biden. Republican voting nearly all went for Donald Trump. Vermont was one exception, choosing Nikki Haley. So what do Republicans do now? Hugh Hewitt talks with a lot of leading Republicans. He is host of "The Hugh Hewitt Show" on the Salem Radio Network. Mr. Hewitt, welcome back. Good to talk with you again.

HUGH HEWITT: Good morning, Steve. It's good to be back. And you are absolutely right. Donald Trump rolled last night in a rather stunning display of electoral strength. A lot of Republicans had always wanted a one-on-one match between the former president and a well-funded, good quality candidate, which Ambassador Haley is, and he rolled her. And not, as you noted, across the middle of the country, not just there, but in the states where I thought she would do best. Maine, Donald Trump won 72%. In Utah, which is traditionally more rugged territory for Donald Trump...

INSKEEP: Yeah.

HEWITT: ...Donald Trump won 58%. And in Virginia, our own beltway, he won 63%. So it was quite the romp for Donald Trump.

INSKEEP: Yeah. I wondered if Haley would do better in Virginia, myself, but she did not. But let me ask, we've heard from Republican voters then, are leading Republicans who think about November and beyond entirely comfortable with their candidate?

HEWITT: No, but I don't think they are any more uncomfortable than they were in 2016 when he won. And I do not believe they are uncomfortable with the Alvin Bragg prosecution that is coming up. I think they were worried about the Jack Smith prosecution to a certain extent, because that's a January 6 prosecution somewhat. It's not really. He wasn't charged with insurrection or...

INSKEEP: Right.

HEWITT: ...Aiding and abetting a riot.

INSKEEP: He's charged with crimes relating to the 2020 election. Right.

HEWITT: Right.

INSKEEP: Go on.

HEWITT: But I do think they were uncomfortable in 2016. I didn't give him a chance. I was wrong. I'm not predicting anymore. But they will rally. I believe most of Nikki Haley's troops will come home to him. And Steve, a question - turnabout is fair play - which demographic do you think is moving most significantly towards Trump that did not go with him in '20 or '16?

INSKEEP: You tell me.

HEWITT: Black Democrats. Male Black Democrats. There is a theory that this is because of the continuing pursuit of lawfare against Donald Trump. But so I put it to the man who knows the numbers best, in my view, Steve Kornacki. He says it's real. It's approaching between 15 and 20%. And so I think it's going to be a different coalition behind Donald Trump. And at the same time, we have an infirm president who had a very bad day yesterday on media. I don't know if you had a chance to watch him either at the White House or listen to his radio interviews or see him on the tarmac...

INSKEEP: President Biden, you mean. Go on.

HEWITT: Yeah. President Biden. I'm sorry about that. But with immigration as the No. 1 issue in the country, followed closely when it gets close by the economy. And with the Israeli war largely supported by supermajorities of America on the side of the Jewish state, I think the issue set is lining up for Donald Trump. The vice president...

INSKEEP: Let me...

HEWITT: ...Selection by Trump matters the most.

INSKEEP: Let me just ask about this, though. You're talking about margins here. And it's true that Republicans have tried for years to get even a few Black voters, and even a few would make a difference, even if the vast majority stay with the Democrats. I think the opposite problem applies to Republicans. You said you think that most of Haley's supporters will come home to Trump in the end, but if some of them do not, if they go third party, if they go to Joe Biden, if they stay home, that really matters. What happens if some large fraction or some meaningful fraction of the Republican Party does not come to Trump?

HEWITT: Same thing that happens if that occurs with President Biden. He does need to work on suburban women, all right? The best way to do that is with the crime issue, which is real. And with the education issue, which is No. 2 or 3...

INSKEEP: Does abortion cost...

HEWITT: ...On those people.

INSKEEP: ...Those suburban women for Republicans, kind of irrevocably in some cases?

HEWITT: He has lost some women irrevocably. I know some who he's lost irrevocably. On the other hand, people vote their self-interest, and they especially vote the interests of their children. The border bothers people. When you find people like Laken Riley murdered on the campus of the University of Georgia, another migrant violent crime last night. These stories are one-offs in a tidal wave of migration, but it keeps the issue at 28% of people's No. 1 issue. So I think it's set up very nicely. And I think Alvin Bragg - I'm sort of an outlier here, Steve...

INSKEEP: About 10 seconds.

HEWITT: ...But I think the Alvin Bragg prosecution will convict the president, and I think it will help the former president.

INSKEEP: That's one of the four indictments, one of the trials we might see this year. Hugh Hewitt of "The Hugh Hewitt Show." Pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much.

HEWITT: Good to talk to you, Steve. Thank you.

INSKEEP: Take care. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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