Rep. Jim Bridenstine: Why Trump Won

Conservative champion explains the keys to Trump's stunning political upset at Restoration Weekend.

Below are the video and transcript to Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s speech at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2016 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 10th-13th at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

Congressman Jim Bridenstine from DHFC on Vimeo.

Well it’s an honor to be here.  I had the opportunity to address the Freedom Center about 2 years ago and I just thoroughly enjoyed it.  Honored to be back.  Thank you, Michael Finch, for inviting me.  Thank you, David Horowitz, for having me.  And thank you to the Freedom Center for all the great work that you do and the enthusiasm that you bring to the conservative movement.

I want to talk for a second. I had a speech planned today about national security issues, but in light of what happened last week or Tuesday – God, it seems like it was a long time ago, not a lot of sleep between then and now – I wanted to talk about something else, and that is how we got to a position where Donald Trump is going to be the president of the United States.  And I think a lot of people don’t understand it.  David Horowitz summed it up, I think, very clearly: he was the only person that could go into this arena and do what was necessary in order to win.  And when you have a candidate like Hillary Clinton and there’s all of this political correctness going around the question is what other Republican would have brought up the sexual assault victims of Bill Clinton?  What other candidate would have talked about how Hillary Clinton attempted to silence and shame the victims of Bill Clinton?  What other candidate would have brought up the fact that Hillary Clinton said that they were part of a vast right-wing conspiracy?  By the way, all of these women worked for Bill Clinton in the Democratic Party and yet somehow they became part of the vast right-wing conspiracy.  Donald Trump, I believe, is potentially the only candidate that would have brought these things up on national television in a debate and talked about how Hillary Clinton not only claimed that they were part of the vast right-wing conspiracy, but she said that we’ve got to find out who these people are and when people do find out who they are they’re going to have a lot to answer for.  She said that they were part of a cadre of “bimbos” (her quote).  I mean this is who Donald Trump was running against and the question is would any other Republican nominee have gone after that in the way that he did?  And this is what it looks like when Republicans fight back.  That’s what it looks like when Republicans fight back.  And for the first time in a long time we had a Republican that actually fought back using the same tools as the left.

So I want to talk for a second about, as a member of Congress, some of the things I’ve witnessed and how we get to a position where he becomes the nominee.  We have seen Republicans campaign on things like repealing Obamacare and de-funding Planned Parenthood and stopping the Syrian refugee resettlement and stopping sanctuary cities and ending executive orders for amnesty.  When you hear about this amnesty issue the answer is the Constitution itself says that Congress has the authority to create a uniform rule of naturalization.  That’s the United States Congress.  So when you have a president who issues an executive order violating the Constitution, the United States Congress has one of two choices:  (1) we can de-fund his executive order for amnesty or (2) we can impeach the president of the United States.  Those are our two powers to put a check on the executive branch.  And yet we kept sending Republicans back to Washington, DC and these things never happened. And the question was, “Why?”  And any one of us who went to a town hall had to go and answer these questions why.

Well, I’m going to share with you for a second why that happens.  When you think about the federal budget of the United States, two-thirds of it is on auto-pilot:  Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps and Obamacare.  Members of Congress do not authorize and we do not appropriate those funds on an annual basis.  If you qualify for the money you get the money.  There is no annual authorization or appropriation. Based on laws that were passed years ago, those policies stay in effect and those policies go forward, unless Congress intervenes and changes them.  It’s the only way they change.  Well, when you’ve got Democrats that want to spend more money – and by the way, this two-thirds of federal spending is growing rapidly, exponentially, mainly because the demographic shifts.  We’ve got a population that’s getting older and we’ve got people that are older and we’ve got people that are not making as much money as they used to.  So these demographic shifts have occurred and the Democrats want to spend more money.  And they say that it stimulates the economy.  That’s not true when you have 100 percent debt to GDP ratio. But they say they want to stimulate the economy.

Well, I’m here to tell you that Republicans should have a different message, and that message would be no, we need to balance the budget.  And you don’t – Republicans unfortunately have been afraid.  What have they been afraid of?  Well, you guys probably have seen commercials in the past. The Democrats would make a commercial of Paul Ryan throwing grandma off the cliff.  You guys have seen this.  So Democrats want to spend more on this two-thirds.  By doing nothing, they get their way, just by default.  Republicans are scared to touch that two-thirds because somebody might make a commercial of Paul Ryan throwing grandma off the cliff.  So that leaves us with only one-third of federal spending that we deal with on an annual basis.  That’s called discretionary spending.  That other two-thirds is called mandatory spending.  Some people call it the entitlement programs.  But one-third is what we have to reauthorize and reappropriate on an annual basis, and if we don’t, you have a government shutdown.

So I want to share with you what a lot of people in the media don’t tell you, and that is this:  in the House of Representatives under Republican leadership we pass appropriation bills to fund that one-third of federal spending that has to be re-appropriated every year.  We pass those appropriation bills in what’s called “regular order” where members of Congress can represent their constituents.  I can go to the floor of the House and I can say we need to cut spending in one area and we need to plus up spending in another area.  It is an open amendment process, so whether or not my amendment wins, I can’t tell you, but I can tell you that I had the opportunity to represent my constituents in the American democracy the way the founding fathers of this country intended.  That’s why those 12 appropriation bills that constitute one-third of federal spending, they are important.  So there are 12 of those appropriation bills that constitute that one-third, and we go through those in the House of Representatives.  We start with defense appropriations, then homeland security, military construction and Veterans Affairs, transportation and housing and urban development.  Financial services, commerce, justice, science.  We pass these appropriation bills in the House of Representatives funding the government in regular order where members of Congress can represent their constituents, and we can put checks on the executive branch.  If the president issues a rule or regulation that we believe is not in keeping with the will of the American people, we defund it.

We pass these bills in regular order in the House, they go to the Senate, and Harry Reid kills them dead.  All of them.  My first 2 years in the House of Representatives, 2013 and 2014, Harry Reid was in charge of the Senate.  He didn’t pass a single appropriation bill.  Zero.  Not one.  So we passed the bills in the House of Representatives funding the government, Harry Reid passed zero appropriation bills, and then what happens at the end of September?  You have a shutdown.  The government will shut down because Harry Reid hasn’t passed a single bill – zero.  If you read your 8th grade textbook it says that the House of Representatives passes bills and the Senate passes bills.  Those bills might not agree with each other but at the end of the day that’s when you appoint conferees that come together, they negotiate a settlement and then the bills go back to both chambers for final passage.  That’s how the American process is supposed to work.  But under Harry Reid we would pass bills in the House, Harry Reid would pass zero, Harry Reid would set up a government shutdown at the end of every fiscal year.  I want to be clear, Harry Reid would set up a government shutdown at the end of every fiscal year and somehow the Democrats would call it a Republican shutdown and then Republicans would say “Well, we can’t shut down the government,” crazily Republicans would take it upon themselves, the media would call it a Republican shutdown, and the Republicans are the only ones that have done anything to fund the government.  It’s astonishing.

The question is why does Harry Reid pass nothing?  Zero?  Well he knows that Republicans in the last minute on the last day before the shutdown will bring to the floor something called a continuing resolution.  Where you roll all 12 appropriation bills into one massive spending package, and you say we’re going to fund next year exactly as you funded last year.  Take off the table the power of the purse.  Take off the table representational government.  You either fund everything or the whole government shuts down.  And Republicans, being crazy, jump off that cliff and fund it.  And what happens?  You’ve got a Republican majority in the House, a Republican majority in the Senate now, and you’re funding Planned Parenthood and Obamacare and Syrian refugee resettlement and sanctuary cities and all the EPA rules and regulations.  Friends, this is how this works.

David Horowitz talked about radicals.  Setting up intentionally a government shutdown in order to force people to fund Planned Parenthood is a radical idea.  They are so committed to funding Planned Parenthood that they’re willing to shut down the Department of Defense in order to force Republicans to fund Planned Parenthood.  That is radical.  And yet they’ve been doing this.  A lot of times I get the question, “Well, if Harry Reid is not in the majority anymore how does he do this?”  Well, he uses the filibuster.  It used to be in this country that if you wanted to filibuster a bill you had to go to the floor of the Senate and hold the floor.  That used to be how it worked.  You guys have probably seen “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.“  And guess what?  You could hold the floor but eventually your bladder is going to catch up to you.  And at that point there’s going to be an up or down vote.  That’s the way the filibuster used to work.  Well now the filibuster is that you just send an email, Harry Reid sends an email, and then he goes and eats a steak dinner with his lobbyist friends laughing about how he’s going to compel the Republicans to fund all of this liberal garbage.

Well those guys – friends, this is how Republicans get so infuriated and frustrated.  We’ve been running against this now for – I mean I’ve been running against it for 4 years – and everybody says, “Why are you still funding Planned Parenthood?”  We’ve now seen who they are and what they do.  ”Why are you funding Syrian refugee resettlement when the CIA director is saying that they’re going to use it to infiltrate the United States and you’ve got the FBI saying there’s no way to properly vet the people that are coming in through Syrian refugee resettlement?  Why are you funding this?”  My answer is I’m not.  Here’s what’s interesting:  the American people – I don’t think, not all of the American people understand these inner workings in Washington, DC.  But I will also tell you what they did understand is that they’ve been electing Republicans, and Republicans had not been following through on what they said they would do. 

That, my friend, is how Donald Trump gets the nomination:  He ran against the Republican Party.  And then he ran against the Democratic Party, and then he ran against what Ted Cruz called the “Washington Cartel.”  And I was a supporter of Ted Cruz in the primary.  He was correctly identifying it for what it was, which is the Washington Cartel.  Oh yeah, we know.  I know this.  We all love Ted Cruz.  But he ran against the Washington Cartel.  And Rand Paul called it the “Washington Machine.” And Donald Trump called it “the swamp.“  So I wanted people to understand the dynamics that I’ve been dealing with in Washington.  And here’s what they say:  If you’re not willing, when they bring this massive continuing resolution to the floor and they say, “You have to vote for it or you’re going to shut down the government,” and if you say, “No, I’m not voting for it because this is not representational government, this is not what the Founding Fathers of this country envisioned when they established the Constitution of the United States, so I am not voting for it,” well, then they say, “Well you’re for the shutdown.  Well you’re part of the Tea Party caucus.  You’re part if the ‘shutdown caucus.’“  And these aren’t Democrats saying it; these are Republicans saying it.  That is the mistake that Republicans have bought into, which is to say that because the media, and because the Washington Machine and the Washington Cartel, the lobbyists, the special interest groups, the political action committees and even the party apparatus; because they say these things, then you have to vote for it.  And that’s why nothing ever changes in Washington, DC.  So I will tell you, Donald Trump is a phenomenon.  And I will tell you that I do think that given the problems of Hillary Clinton, I might disagree with David Horowitz a little bit here, I think another Republican could have won.  But I also believe that Donald Trump was unique in the sense that he could bring to the table things that other Republicans couldn’t bring and he turned out a vote that nobody anticipated.  And thank God for those people showing up to vote.

So we have a new day in the United States of America, and I believe the economy is going to fundamentally transform.  We’ve already seen it in the stock market.  We’re going to see tax reform.  We’re going to see a lot of these rules and regulations being rolled back in ways that are good for the American economy. And it is true that Republicans do not want to damage the environment.  You’re going to hear all kinds of stuff about that, but what is different now is that you have a president of the United States who values economic growth more than a radical ideology.  He values jobs and the growth of the American economy and he’s going to put the United States of America ahead of all other countries because he represents exclusively the United States of America on the world stage. And that is something that we haven’t had for 8 years now.  So I do believe that the future is looking very good for us. 

There was a point in time in the campaign a number of weeks ago when you saw the Access Hollywood report come out and all of the sudden there were 24 Republicans in the House and the Senate that said, “We’re done with Donald Trump. We’re not going to back him anymore. We’re not going to support him. We’re not going to campaign with him.“ And if you look – I got so frustrated because I would turn on the TV and I would see Michelle Obama and Barrack Obama, and Joe Biden, and I would see Bernie Sanders and all of the other high-level Democrats out there campaigning for Hillary Clinton.  And then who was campaigning for Donald Trump?  Donald Trump and Mike Pence.  And I got so frustrated.  By then Hillary Clinton also had Al Gore and all these others, and I got so frustrated I sent a tweet.  Ha!  And it got a lot of attention.  And in the tweet I said:  “Given the stakes of this election if Paul Ryan is not for Donald Trump then I am not for Paul Ryan.“  It is true that Donald Trump has not been in the political arena nor has he been in the politically correct arena.  He lives in a quite frankly vulgar industry – the entertainment industry.  And I will also tell you that he reflects that.  But in the face of turning the Supreme Court of the United States over to Hillary Clinton there’s not much that could come out his mouth that would encourage me to support Hillary Clinton, and in this election you are for one or the other.  That’s what it came down to.

And I also want to share something else with you that I thought was a nice thing.  And when I was talking, when I sent that tweet we got calls from MSNBC and CNN and Fox News, and I started going on TV and explaining to people why it was so important that Donald Trump win this election. And I focused on the Supreme Court, and I focused on jobs and the economy.  I focused on the southern border of United States, that these are the reasons that all Republicans right now should be standing with our nominee in spite of what might have just come out.  And anybody who believed that Donald Trump would be the nominee and something like that wouldn’t happen was incorrect.  You should have anticipated it and been prepared. Instead of fleeing at the first chance, you should have dived in.  And what was interesting is after doing all of this media, and it was, quite frankly, at the time it was me and Ted Yoho from Florida here.  We were seemingly the only two out there at this point willing to do this, and at that point I was astonished that Donald Trump gave me a telephone call.  I had never met him before.  But my phone rings and it was David Bossie from Citizens United and he said, “Would you take a phone call from Donald Trump?”  And I was at a swim meet for my 8-year-old girl and my 10-year-old boy, and I said, “Yeah, sure, whatever.”  And a couple hours later sure enough he called me and he just said, “Hey I want to thank you for supporting me” and we had a good conversation about all kinds of things.  And one of the things that he said that I thought was important was that he continued to focus on the Supreme Court.  And when you’re talking in Florida – and I told this to David Bossie as well from Citizens United – when you’re in Florida, you need to talk about space because it can transform the American economy, and what’s happening in space from the enemies of the United States, it is now an extremely dangerous environment and nobody is paying attention to it.  Certainly, the Obama administration has not been giving it the focus that it needs.  And after that – this is another thing that’s amazing – Donald Trump every speech he gave after that when he was in Florida he talked about space.

So here’s what I’m going to tell you:  He listens.  If you listen to the media, he’s unhinged and nobody can talk to him and he doesn’t follow directions. I’m here to tell you that’s not true.  He absolutely does listen.  And he takes on board what you’re saying and he responds.  He is, I think, probably the single most underestimated politician in the history of the United States of America.  So I have a lot of hope right now, and I wanted to share that with all of you that our country – and I want to say this as well: You have a candidate that ran against the Republicans.  He ran against the Democrats.  He ran against the lobbyists and the special interest groups and the political parties and the political action committees.  And in spite of all of that, the American people elected him.  I am more proud of my country right now, that the American people in this country, whether people loved Donald Trump or hate Donald Trump, here’s what we now know:  the American people in this country are sovereign and their vote counts and their voices can be heard.  And I think there were a lot of people in this country until this election who believed that really it’s just a bunch of insiders in Washington, DC making these decisions.  Well, Donald Trump proved otherwise, and that’s a great thing for the United States of America.  So thank you all for having me.