Exclusive - Ryan Lizza Extended Interview

January 28, 2016 - Ryan Lizza 01/28/2016 Views: 24,695

The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza discusses how the GOP is coping with billionaire businessman Donald Trump as a presidential frontrunner. (7:28)

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My guest tonightis a CNN contributor

and alsoa Washington correspondent

for The New Yorker magazine.

His latest article appears in the new issue.

Please welcome Ryan Lizza.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)

-Wow. -Thank you so muchfor being here.

Thank you. That's the first timethat anyone has applauded

for a political journalistall campaign.

We love political journalists.These guys are amazing.

-These guys... Yeah.-You obviously haven't been

to Trump rallies.

I actually haven't.And you know what?

Now that you brought it up,let's go straight into it.

First of all,fascinating article

-in The New Yorker. -Thank you.

You took it upon yourselfto just start pitching up

at Trump rallies.

Yeah. Well, I was sentout there, yeah, and just...

I like how you clarifythat, "No, I was sent out."

-(laughter)-I was sent out. You know.

-This was not my choice!-I got paid to do it. Uh...

Yeah, you know, he'sgot these things every week,

and they're sort oftheir own little world.

I mean, after a whilethey feel like

Grateful Dead showsof the right.

You know what I mean?Like, the people who watch them

on YouTube all the time,they kind of know the lines,

they know the thingsthat Trump's gonna do...

-Are you being serious?-Oh, I'm serious.

There's a call-and-response--you know, like Trump will say,

"Who's gonna build the wall?"and the crowd will yell,

-NOAH: "Mexico!"-Or he'll say...

Oh, I... that's what...I was just guessing.

It's so infectious,even I was in it.

I was like,yeah, that's the line.

Yeah, so they're... you know,he's got this hard-core base

that, you know, knows allof the-the sort of set pieces

-that he's gonna do.-That is so fascinating.

So do people gofrom rally to rally,

or do they just goto one rally?

What's happening? Is this a cultthat's filling one stadium,

or is Trump really bringingpeople out from every place?

When I was in New Hampshirethere were people

that I talked to that had beento more than one rally already.

It wasn't just their first timeseeing him.

Now, that's a little bit commonin New Hampshire,

'cause in New Hampshire you'reused to seeing the candidates

all the time and, you know...

So this is, like,a hobby that they have.

They're professional voters,in a sense, right?

But his people are, you know,they're diehard.

They go and...if they don't go to the rallies,

they watch them on YouTube, and,you know, they know the lines.

They, you know, they...they know the equivalent...

Some of the lines thatyou talk about are fascinating.

I mean, in the articleyou talk about, um,

how he calls, uh,journalists "scumbags."

So there's, like, a...Could you explain that scene?

Because it seemedlike you were saying

all the journalists haveto sit together in, like, a pen,

-Yeah. Yeah. -and thenall the people boo them.

Yeah. So... there's sort ofone moment at every Trump rally

where, uh, he pointsto the press in this...

in this... which is containedin a steel pen,

-Yeah.-like, you know, barricades

like you'd seeat the Thanksgiving parade.

Is that for your protectionor the people?

You know, it's...we joke about it, but, you know,

there are some, uh...there are some reporters

that have actually discussedwhether they needed

-to bring security along.-Wow.

Nobody's done this, but this...I had some discussion

with some of the reporterswhere they were actually talking

to their bossesback in Washington saying,

is it getting so weirdwe have to bring security?

Now, that hasn't happened.

I think Trump has actuallytoned it down a little bit.

But he turns to the crowd,he points at us--

you know, the press--and he calls us,

you know, usually "scum"or "sleazebags."

And one of the first thingsone of the journalists

who's been covering himfor months said to me, she said,

"Yeah, it's the same termhe uses for ISIS terrorists."

-(laughter)-You know, so...

And so then the crowd turns,and, like, boos and stuff, so...

The people turn to youand they boo?

You know, believe it or not,especially on the right,

there is not a lot of lovefor the media in this country.

And you feel itat a Trump rally. So...

Here's somethingthat fascinated me, though.

You didn't only go as media--you've been to a Trump rally

and you joined the supporters,for a change.

Yeah, 'cause I didn't wantto be in the pen all the time.

You know?'Cause then you can't go...

Why not?Why would you not want to be

in the pen all the time, Ryan?

The advantage of the pen is, youcan get right into the event.

-Yes. -But thenyou're kind of stuck there,

-and you can't go and talkto the people. -Ah, okay, okay.

So access-- you get in... soyou got to wait for a few hours,

and then you're inwith the crowd.

Is it different, though,when you're with the crowd?

It is different.You know, I waited in Biloxi,

uh, Biloxi, Mississippi,for three hours.

I mean, that's...you know, people waited on line

for three hours justto go see him give a speech.

And, you know,once you're in there

you can walk around,you can talk to people.

If you're down close to him,

you can actuallyget up close to him

and, you know, ask a question.

Um, so it's... you getthe feel of the event more.

And then when he does thekind of turn to the press boo,

you know, I was like,"Yeah, yeah, you guys are scum!"

-You know, along with the crowd.-Oh, wait, you joined in?

I love that you were like,"Yeah...!"

You don't knowwhat's gonna happen...

And they were like,"Is that Ryan?" "Aah...!"

Here's a big question.This is what's so fasc...

I really recommendeverybody read this article,

because it breaks it downso... so wonderfully.

I mean, how did we getto this point?

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz

seem to be running awaywith the race,

and the Republican establishmentdoesn't seem happy with this.

-Yeah.-This is not what they planned.

This is not what they planned.And I think, you know,

there are all sorts of reasons--I think it starts

with the issue thathe seized on in the beginning,

where there'sthe biggest difference

betweenthe Republican establishment

and its grass roots,and that is immigration.

Right? And oncehe started pounding that issue,

he had this sort ofnatural base of Republicans

who were very frustrated withthe party, most of which wants

comprehensiveimmigration reform, right?

-Yeah. -And has been tryingto push it through congress

for the last decade.

So I think that gets him an in.

The second thing is,it's been Trump versus ten guys

you never heard of--except Bush,

and if you've heard Bush, youprobably don't like him, right?

Well, we feel bad for him.It's not that we don't like him.

And-and Trump's just been ableto dominate the airwaves

in a way that no other candidateever has, right?

I mean, it's, like, a hundredto one, Trump, the coverage,

-Trump versus others.-So, I mean, with that,

do you think there'sa point that'll come where

the RNC steps in--do the Republicans say,

"Okay, we're gonnashut Trump down at all costs"?

Or do they at some point acceptthat he may be their nominee?

You know, six months agoI thought that was the case,

when, like a lot of people,I was predicting,

well, there's no wayTrump can win this thing

because you can'tactually take over a party

that doesn't want you.

-But we've seen no... Right?-(laughter)

Right? I mean, the partyleadership doesn't want him.

He's literally--it's a fascinating phenomenon.

He's... This isa hostile takeover

of the Republican Party.

He doesn't have oneelected official in congress

or a governor that is saying,you know,

that is endorsing him, right?

Um, so that it's totally newin American politics.

Do you think that meanshe coul go all the way?

-I do now. Yeah...-Wow. You sounded so...

you were just like, "I do now."

-I don't... Look... -"I wasn'ta believer, but I am now."

There's no, you know,there's no, uh, circuit breaker.

The RNC, none of the...there's no rules in the...

buried in the book that says,"Oh, okay,

if someone like Donald Trump isabout to win our nomination..."

"In case of emergency,break glass."

That doesn't exist. Right?

It's a...it's a democratic system.

It didn't used to be that,but they changed it in the '70s.

-Got to love it.-In the old days...

you could get togetherin the back room

and pick anyone you want--now the people decide.

And... you know.

(laughter)

It's... and...

Your silence-- the wayit spoke so many volumes

about the people, the people.

Well, uh, the people...

We're gonna haveto end it there.

The February 1 issueof The New Yorker

is available on newsstandsand online now.

I suggest you read it.Ryan Lizza, everybody.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)