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Thompson on Leno Seems Wrong

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Andy in St. Cloud, Minnesota, welcome to the program, sir.

CALLER: Rush, it's an honor to talk with you. I've been listening since I was a kid and I'd like to think I'm following in your footsteps to some degree.

RUSH: Thank you very much, sir. It would be very difficult to do, but I admire the effort.

CALLER: I'm (laughing).

RUSH: Was that being rude? Was that being rude?

CALLER: I'm from Missouri, work in music radio in Kansas City, and now I host a conservative talk show. So anyway, I want to hear what you have to say about Fred Thompson before going to the debate today. I missed the program yesterday, I must confess, but what do you think about that and his appearance on Jay Leno? I read an article just recently that said he's losing some support because of his indecisiveness when it comes to how he's going to make his announcement.

RUSH: Losing support because of his indecisiveness? Fred Thompson? You've read stories that that's happening to Fred Thompson?

CALLER: Yeah, I was just reading an article on Fox News about that just a few minutes ago.

RUSH: Oh. Well, it's on Fox News, it must be true.

CALLER: (Laughing.)

RUSH: (Laughing.)Look, normally we don't repeat previous programs. That's what the website's for. It's $49.95 for a full-year subscription with the newsletter, but, in your case, you're so nice and you're from Kansas City, so I'll make an adjustment. What I said yesterday was I'm not fully decided on this. This is my instincts. But I'm not crazy about presidential candidates announcing their candidacy on these late-night shows, Leno or Letterman. I know why they're doing it. Thompson has been very up-front and honest about why he's doing it. He's saying, hey, look, I can reach far more ordinary Americans on Jay Leno's show than are going to be watching the debate tonight from New Hampshire on the Fox News Channel. Well, there's no question. But the debate may draw, what, two, three million people, if that? Leno's audience is five or six million, something like that, and of course it's not political, the audience. It's not as political as an audience that would be watching the debate. That is understandable, and we live in a telegenic age, presidential candidates have to do well on TV. The one thing about it that bothers me -- and I'm not rooted in fuddy-duddiness here, although it may sound like it to some of you but -- is I think the office of the presidency has a certain stature, and I don't like to see it linked or tied to pop culture. Pop culture is by definition one of the low common denominators of our society.

If a president won't go on The Tonight Show as president, he shouldn't go on as a candidate. I guess it's one of the things I've always noticed. Presidential candidates will go do all kinds of things that once they become president, they'd say, "I'm not going to go see the Butter Princess at the Iowa State Fair! What do you mean?"

"Well, sir, you did it when you were a candidate."

"Yeah, but I'm going to wait 'til I'm a candidate again, but I'm president now and I'm not going to go sit around and get my picture taken with the Butter Queen, or what have you."

You know damn well that presidents don't go on The Tonight Show. So why should they as candidates? When you link the stature of that office to the pop culture, I don't think the damage is instantaneous, but it's just a slow erosion of the stature of the office. It's just my instinct here. It could be anybody. This is not directed at Fred Thompson. I was watching Meet the Press Sunday, and they had Mary Matalin on there with James Carville and Bob Shrum and Mike Murphy, and they were talking about this, and they all thought it was perfectly fine and normal. I was a little stunned, but their job is to get people elected and get them exposed to as many people as possible, and what Thompson's trying to do here, I know, is everything as unconventional in a campaign as he can do. He's announcing late, going on The Tonight Show to announce, so forth and so on. Anyway, I hope that answers the question out there.

END TRANSCRIPT

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