Post Politics

In Trump vs. Ramos, conservatives pick a side

By David Weigel
August 26 at 8:01 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Earlier this month, at the end of a press conference in Michigan, Donald Trump was asked how he'd react if someone tried to disrupt his press conference. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had just walked away after two activists claiming to represent Black Lives Matter interrupted one of his appearances in Seattle. Would Trump hand over the mic like that?

"I would never give up my microphone," said Trump. "I thought that was disgusting. That showed such weakness."

On Tuesday, Trump was as good as his word. Jorge Ramos, the Univision and Fusion anchor, stood up at the start of Trump's press conference in Dubuque, Iowa, and started in on a question about immigration. The aftermath has dominated political news for 24 hours, with Ramos, perhaps the most recognizable Latino reporter in the country, winning accolades for refusing to sit down and let Trump talk. A video of Ramos being told to "go back" to his home country (he is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico) has gone viral.

But Trump was ready for Ramos. The key moment of the confrontation was not when Ramos was escorted out, but when he was allowed back in by Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks. Trump called on Ramos and went round after round with him, on live TV. If the downside of challenging Megyn Kelly was that it might alienate Fox News's conservative viewers, the downside of challenging Ramos was -- what? In a Republican primary, there was no downside whatsoever.

That was clear in almost every conservative reaction to the tete-a-tete. The conservative blogger Jim Hoft used the confrontation to promote the (long disclosed) fact that Ramos's daughter worked for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Fox News's Jesse Watters, who specializes in on-camera confrontations with left-wing subjects, said that Ramos "acted like an illegal immigrant" and was treated accordingly. On site after site, conservatives scoffed at the idea that Ramos had done something heroic by standing up and saying Trump's immigration plan was built on "false promises" and racial animus.

"What he wants to say is that he thought he had a greater moral right to question Trump," wrote the anonymous blogger Allahpundit at "Heís an activist. Unlike the other reporters in the room, he was there to push a cause and wanted to use Trumpís media megaphone to amplify it. When youíre speaking open-borders 'truth' to security power, your righteous urgency leaves no room for professional courtesy."

Today, at a campaign rally for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in this eastern Washington city, every voter who was asked about the Trump/Ramos faceoff said that Trump had gotten the better of it.

"You know what Trump showed me?" said Debra Goodwin, a local Tea Party Patriots organizer. "That is a man in charge. It's not your turn yet! It wasn't his turn -- but he escorted him in when it was. And he won the argument."

Meanwhile, in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Trump was litigating the details of the Ramos argument. Hewitt, who will help ask questions in the next televised Republican debate, was on his side.

"He was screaming, and I thought it was actually very unfair not so much to me, which I guess you could say it was, but it was certainly very unfair to all the other reporters that were waiting with their hands up to take questions," said Trump. "I would have gotten to him, 100 percent. I have no problem with doing that."

"It was not professional," said Hewitt. "Iíve been doing this for 25 years. It wasnít professional. But it was successful for him, and it was also, though, very successful for you because of the way you handled him. And I was actually reminded, do you remember when the Iraqi threw the shoe at George W. Bush?"

"Yes," said Trump.

"And he didnít blink, and he just carried on?"


"Thatís what it reminded me of. And you see why?"

"Well," said Trump, "that may have been his best moment, if you want to know the truth, which is pretty sad to say."