RUSH: So by now, if you don't know that Bob Dole sent me a letter yesterday afternoon, then you haven't been paying attention. Here's the timeline on this. Senator Dole, for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect, sent me an e-mail that I received here at 2:35 p.m. yesterday afternoon. I assumed that it was a private e-mail and was going to reply to it later in the afternoon when I got home. By the way, Mike Allen of Politico.com, the headline: "Dole Scolds Limbaugh," there was no scolding in this letter. I have it here and I'll read it to you in due course. There are other things that have happened since the letter came out that I want to address first. But it was not a scolding e-mail, not a scolding letter at all. In fact, Senator Dole did not even endorse McCain in this letter, for those of you who are paying attention.
You may think that the letter from Dole was to get me to agree with him and support McCain. That's not what Dole was doing in the letter. It was very respectful, and I was going to respond to him privately, then I get home yesterday afternoon, start working on the show today, show prep, and I see that somebody's leaked the letter, and it's all over the place. I see that Senator Dole is going to be on Hannity & Colmes last night, and he was, I watched it, we have audio sound bites. I think what has happened here, ladies and gentlemen, is the manipulation of Bob Dole by the McCain camp -- Bob Dole is a war hero, by the way. The leaking of his personal letter to the media with a dishonest spin speaks to the insecurity of the McCain camp. In fact, I got an e-mail this morning from one of Bob Dole's associates and it said: "Senator Dole is undergoing a series of medical tests in New York today but he asked that Rush get the following information. One, Senator Dole or staff had no contact with the media concerning the letter, except to send it to Sean Hannity prior to going on his program. Number two, after three o'clock, a friend asked if he could contact somebody in the media, and since Rush's program is over, the senator said, okay."
So I assume the senator thought I was going to reply to this on the air when I got it with 25 minutes left in the program. That wasn't really enough time to fully read and digest it. "Number three, the e-mail was the senator's effort to communicate his personal views to a friend. It was a report, not an endorsement, and it was done in hopes that Rush might respond on his program." I'm going to do that today. "It wasn't an anti-Romney piece, because Dole thinks highly of Governor Romney. There was no press contact, and Senator Dole has declined all requests concerning the election and who he supports." And he explains why in the letter to me, which you will hear in mere moments. "Bottom line, Senator Dole wanted Rush to know about his Senate relationship with McCain and how McCain voted on key issues while I was the Republican leader," while Dole was. "Senator Dole did not have such a relationship with either Governor Romney or Huckabee, so he had no personal knowledge of their records. Senator Dole hopes that he will have an opportunity to personally communicate with Rush." I'll be happy to communicate personally with Senator Dole. We'll get to the letter in just a second. As I say, there are things that have happened since then. On Fox this morning, Fox News, the weatherman, Steve Doocy, had this exchange with former governor Mitt Romney.
DOOCY: Governor, what do you do make of the letter that Bob Dole wrote to Rush Limbaugh that say, hey, lay off of John McCain, he's conservative enough. Do you buy that from Bob?
ROMNEY: It's probably the last person I would have wanted to have write a letter for me. I think there are a lot of folks that tend to think that maybe John McCain's race is a bit like Bob Dole's race, that it's the guy who's the next in line, he's the inevitable choice.
RUSH: Well, this did not sit well with Senator McCain, who had tried, his camp had tried to pass this Dole letter off to me as an endorsement, which it was not. So on Joe Scarborough's show today on MSNBC, it's called Morning Joe, they played this bite from an upcoming report on Senator McCain.
MCCAIN: The fact that someone asked Governor Romney about the letter that Bob Dole wrote on my behalf to Rush Limbaugh, and he said that would be the last person he would want writing a letter on his behalf. Governor Romney disparaging an American hero, our leader, our nominee for president of the United States, that's disgraceful. I think Governor Romney should apologize to Bob Dole for that comment. He's a great American, and for Governor Romney, who has never had any military experience to disparage the service and courage of an American hero I think is disgraceful.
RUSH: I'm sorry, Senator McCain, I think what you are doing here is disgraceful. How in the world is what Governor Romney said a nasty attack on a veteran? What your campaign is doing, Senator McCain, is manipulating Bob Dole, a war hero, by the way, a war hero, Senator McCain, who never talked about it. My father was a war hero in World War II. So was his friend Jim Kinder. Both have passed away. They would not talk about what they did in World War II to their kids, Senator McCain. They didn't parade it around, and neither did Bob Dole. Senator McCain, you are parading it around. Bob Dole is being manipulated by your campaign. The leaking of this letter to the liberal media with a dishonest spin speaks to the insecurity of the McCain camp. Why all the attention to me, folks? Why the manipulation of a personal correspondence, why the manipulation of the media, including Fox News late yesterday afternoon right before seven o'clock with the McCain talking points about Dole scolding me and saying enough is enough.
In the first place, Senator Dole is a gentleman, and he doesn't behave that way. The letter that he sent me was not a scold in any way, shape, manner, or form. If the people in the media had just read the letter, they would have seen that it was respectful; they would have seen that it was gracious. They would have seen he was talking about after the primaries. He was talking about the general election, Senator Dole was. He had no candidate. The letter did not say that he did have candidate. Last night on Hannity & Colmes he was asked point-blank by Alan Colmes, "Who's your guy?" He said, (paraphrasing) "I don't have a dog in this race. Well, I don't want to call them dogs, they're candidates." And so the assumption was all over the place that Senator Dole was another one of those endorsing Senator McCain and the McCain camp put that out. It's not the case, and we have it from Senator Dole's own mouth last night on television.
Now, this shows you just how willing the media are to be manipulated by McCain and they are invested in his campaign and how the McCain camp is unscrupulous to take a private note, lie about its contents, leak it to the media, is not the way you treat a World War II war hero, a former Republican leader, and a wholly decent guy like Bob Dole. Romney's not abusing Dole here in his comment. He's stating the obvious. The obvious is that Dole ran a poor campaign in 1996, he was badly beaten by a Clinton, just as some of us think a McCain campaign would be badly beaten by another Clinton. But since I was the subject of this dirty little trick by the McCain campaign, I want people to understand how this all happened in the first place. I'm going to tell you what's happening here, folks. Senator McCain is resorting to the same kind of politics as Hillary Clinton. Every challenge to Senator McCain is said to be a challenge to his military record or somebody else's military record. Hillary uses her gender the same way. If you question Senator McCain, you're questioning the military. If you question Senator Clinton, you're questioning women. Senator McCain feigns outrage over the slightest challenge.
Nobody questioned Bob Dole's military record, nobody attacked Bob Dole personally, and certainly not Mitt Romney. Senator Dole ran a bad campaign, got his clock cleaned. A number of us think the same thing is likely to happen with the same scenario, somebody who's owed this because of his service, somebody with a great military record. Ask John Kerry how much a great military record helps you in a presidential race and ask Bob Dole how much it helps you. And again, Senator Dole did not endorse McCain, which McCain's camp has put out there. Dole did not scold me, which McCain has also put out there. Dole's letter was private, which McCain also put out. I'm thinking back, I'm not that old in relative terms, but I don't think even Nixon pulled this kind of stunt, twisting statements, putting out lies like this, the attack on Romney, which he claimed Romney wanted a time certain for withdrawal from Iraq, when Romney has never supported that. It's a big lie strategy. You make an outrageous statement, demonstrably false, you hope your friends in the media keep repeating it for you, that way the lie becomes a fact, or so it seems.
RUSH: Damn right, I'm defending Bob Dole! I have known Bob Dole for a long time. You know, people have forgotten. I'll never forget during the days of my television show, there was acrimony for most of their careers between George Bush 41 and Bob Dole. Bob Dole from the heartland, Bob Dole from the Midwest, a war hero; lost his left arm, or the use of it; and he had this rivalry with George H. W. Bush throughout their careers. George H. W. Bush, also a decorated and recognized war hero. But George H. W. Bush, you know, was from the elite Northeast, and they were at loggerheads I can't tell you for how long throughout their careers. People forget these kinds of things because there was not a whole lot of publicity about it. It never really amplified itself. But toward the end of their careers, I'll never forget. Bush made an appearance somewhere in Washington at a museum or something. I forget what the scenario was. I don't know what the situation was. But he made a special point to express his love and admiration for Bob Dole. It was the ending of the rivalry. It was not public, as I say. A lot of people were not fully aware of it, but there was a mutual respect between those two. They had both sought the same things. They both wanted the same things, and it was perceived that Bush had achieved more than Bob Dole had.
But in the end, they were great friends, and I've gotten to know Senator Dole. I've talked to him on the phone. I've met him in Washington a number of times, and he is a gentleman. Bob Dole doesn't have it in him to send me or anybody else a "scolding" e-mail. The Drive-By Media is talking about how this e-mail was treating me like an off-the-reservation son or a juvenile delinquent kid and he was the father. It was not that way at all. It was not an endorsement of McCain in any way, shape, manner, or form! It's another instance here of McCain campaign manipulation. They are the ones using Senator Dole. They are the ones manipulating him. I'm thinking, you know, what I ought to do. I ought to take copy of this letter that Senator Dole sent me; put it on eBay; auction it off much like the Dingy Harry smear letter, and then give the proceeds to Mitt Romney! I'm just thinking about it. I'm absolutely not going to do it. Folks, let me hit you between the eyes and fire with both barrels, here. (sigh) It's uncomfortable. This is not a situation... This is not why I got into this business.
But it is what it is, and if you are principled and honest and you can't be bought or purchased, then that's who you are. The last couple days I have stepped back from this. (interruption) Yes, yes, Mr. Snerdley. I'm going to get to the Howard Kurtz piece. That's another thing. I am the scandal of Super Tuesday. I'll get to it, Snerdley. Don't sweat it. Don't sweat it. I've stepped back from this for a couple of days. What I have found interesting is that Senator McCain and his operatives are insisting that we do what he has refused to do for at least a decade -- and what is that? That is put aside differences and support the Republican Party! We have wanted him to do the same thing, and he has not. McCain-Kennedy. McCain-Feingold. McCain-Lieberman. He reaches out to Democrats. Democrats use Senator McCain. We know what they get. What has Senator McCain gotten from Senator Kennedy? What has Senator McCain gotten from Russ Feingold? What's McCain got from Lieberman? In Lieberman's case, what, an endorsement. Okay. But Kennedy is out there endorsing Obama. Feingold is going to endorse one of those two. What has McCain gotten? What have we gotten from this outreach from Senator McCain to the left?
Now, after ten years of Senator McCain reaching out to the left and embracing the left in order to stab the back of his own party, he's asking us to do what he has refused to do for the last ten years. He's asking us to put aside our differences and support the Republican Party. Indeed, folks, he not only refused to put aside differences, he exploited them. He exploited these differences to create his own political persona and pander to the party opponents. Senator McCain got much more acclaim, much more respect, much more puff piece media treatment by reaching across the aisle and reaching out to Democrats. I find it curious that it's more difficult for a Republican to reach out to his own party members than it is to reach out to Democrats. He seems to be able to do this with ease -- and, of course, it must be easy! I sit here. I've had conversations over the past number of years with people. "Do you know how much more money you could make if you'd switch sides? Do you know we could get you into Hollywood? Whatever you want! If you joined us, if you abandoned it and you start ripping the Republican Party, do you realize what you could have?" Yeah, I do. I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror, and I'd feel dirty and tainted. But, yeah, I know.
I know what Senator McCain gets out of this. He gets adulation. He gets praise. He gets endorsements from the New York Times and the Washington Post. But why is that? Why are these liberal publications endorsing a Republican? It must be he's got a lot of liberal policies, points of view that they feel comfortable with should he win. Could it be that they are endorsing someone they know will lose as a Republican? I don't know the answer to the questions. All I know is they raise huge question marks. But to sit here and to witness the manipulation of Bob Dole with a letter to me leaked to the public, to criticize Mitt Romney for attacking a war hero when no such thing happened; when Bob Dole's letter is not an endorsement of anybody; when Bob Dole's letter is not a scolding of anybody. To have it as misrepresented as it has been is quite telling, and it's quite common, and it's not unexpected. In the midst of all this, people like me are being held up and held out as the problem. "If we would just punt what we believe... Come on, Rush! You realize here what's going on." You know, the Howard Kurtz piece today, the big quote that's got everybody ripped to shreds here is in the third paragraph: "Limbaugh said in an interview over the weekend he would rather see the Democrats win the White House..."
Here's the quote: "If I believe the country will suffer with either Hillary, Obama, or McCain, I would just as soon the Democrats take the hit rather than a Republican causing the debacle, and I would prefer not to have conservative Republicans in the House and Congress paralyzed by having to support out of party loyalty a Republican president who is not conservative." I also added one thing that I don't think Mr. Kurtz put in. I said, "Let me give you an example. If Senator McCain is serious about adopting the left's policies and prescriptions to fix the hoax of manmade global warming, an economic disaster will result. I don't want Republicans getting credit for an economic disaster; given one of the central legs of conservatism and that stool I keep talking about, is fiscal conservatism. But I see Schwarzenegger signing on to it, and I see Schwarzenegger endorsing McCain," but the word that's being misinterpreted -- this is not Kurtz's fault. It's nobody else's fault. I should have been a little bit more specific. "If I believe the country will suffer with either Hillary, Obama, or McCain, I would just as soon the Democrats take the hit rather than the Republicans cause the debacle." By "if," I meant it's unknown yet. It's in the future. This is February, folks. The general election is November, and what I meant when I told this to Howard Kurtz, "if," parentheses, "down the road I think..." It's an open question yet, and yet everybody reading this thinks that I've just said, "Screw it! I'm voting Hillary or Obama." That's not what that meant to say. I clarify it.
RUSH: So yesterday afternoon while minding my own business, hosting and performing yesterday's busy program, at 2:35 p.m. I get an e-mail from Senator Dole. It's late in the day to do anything with it, read it, digest it, comment on it. So I let it go, thinking it was personal. I get home, and find out that the letter has been released to the media. I find out that the way the letter is being portrayed is erroneous. It is being manipulated in ways that could only have meant that the purpose of the letter was actually not even to tell me anything. The purpose of the letter was to allow the McCain campaign to use it to manipulate the media after I had gone off the air. I mean, if you're going to send me the letter, send me the letter before noon. Send me the letter at one o'clock. Not during the last five minutes of the program. So they had all night last night to get their template and their narrative on the letter going, and here's how that template resulted as the result of the successful dirty trick that the McCain camp played on Senator Dole by getting him to write this letter, and the letter is not even an endorsement of Senator McCain. Here's a montage of Drive-By hype after the Dole letter was made public late yesterday afternoon.
RUSSERT: Bob Dole wrote a letter to Rush Limbaugh today saying: Hold on, I know John McCain. I wore his POW bracelet, a true conservative.
SCULLY: Former Senator Dole basically telling Rush Limbaugh to stop it.
JOHN KING: Bob Dole, the former Republican presidential candidate, sent a letter to Rush Limbaugh.
COOPER: Bob Dole telling Rush Limbaugh to give him a second look.
LAUER: Bob Dole writes a letter to Rush Limbaugh...
DOOCY: He wrote a letter to Rush Limbaugh.
COSTELLO: Bob Dole wrote a letter to Rush Limbaugh!
WALLACE: Bob Dole sent a letter today to Rush Limbaugh
HUME: That tells you quite a bit about the primacy of that particular guy and the Republican Party fortunes.
RUSH: That's Brit Hume saying: Hey, if you're going to send Limbaugh a letter, understand what's going to happen to him. I guess I'm relevant again! I went from irrelevant, to not mattering, to suffering great losses and embarrassments, and now back to being relevant. Here is Senator Dole last night on Hannity & Colmes, and Hannity says, "You sent a letter to Rush Limbaugh. Did you leak that to the media?"
DOLE: I think somebody did that after three o'clock.
HANNITY: From your office or McCain's office?
DOLE: Uhhh, I don't know. I don't know the McCain -- well, we did send a copy to Rick Davis.
HANNITY: Did you expect it to be leaked to the press?
DOLE: Well, I figured somebody would find out about it.
DOLE: But anyway, I assumed he wasn't going to use it, three o'clock. So then we did give it to people after three. But I wouldn't -- you know, I'd made it very clear that I disagreed with Senator McCain but I also reported what happened when I was a leader and he was a senator.
RUSH: All right. Hang on. I'm going to read the letter here in just a second, but I want to give you these reactions first, particularly Senator Dole. Later on, Alan Colmes said.... Now, I'm watching this, and Colmes, I'm thinking, "Alan, where's your head?" but actually Alan asked the most relevant question of the night when he said, "Do you have a preference between McCain and Romney?" because you see the manipulation of this letter was meant to imply that Dole was endorsing McCain and asking me to shut up and maybe come on board. So Colmes says, "Do you have a preference between McCain and Romney?"
DOLE: My heart's kind of with McCain, but you know, again, I've stayed out of it. I don't have any dog -- I don't want to say dog, some may say that's saying we don't have a good candidate, but I don't have anybody in this fight.
RUSH: So he sends me the letter. He wants to sing the praises of McCain and he ends up saying on television last night, he doesn't have anybody in this fight. Let me read to you the letter. "Dear Rush: I've not seen you in a long time but I do hear you frequently. I know you have serious reservations about Senator McCain. Not that many care, but I have not been involved in the Republican primary because Elizabeth," his wife, a good conservative, "is running for election, reelection in North Carolina, where Romney, McCain, and Huckabee each enjoy considerable support. Now, Rush, I was a Republican leader from January 1985 until I left the Senate voluntarily in June of 1996. I worked closely with Senator McCain when he came to the Senate in 1987 until I departed," which, again, was June 1996. So basically Senator McCain and Bob Dole worked together for nine years. "I cannot recall a single instance when he didn't support the party on critical votes," and here he lists nine different things that he supports Senator McCain on. "One, a consistent pro-life record. Two, strong advocate for strict constructionist judges," and then, amazingly -- McCain was a strong advocate for strict constructionist judges -- then parentheses "(We were all misled on the Souter nomination.)"
David Souter was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to the Supreme Court. I read this, and I said, "Gee, this I hate to have to point this out. Who was it that suggested to then Chief of Staff John Sununu, David Souter to George Bush? It was none other than New Hampshire Senator Warren Rudman. Who is Warren Rudman? Warren Rudman is one of the national co-chairs of the McCain campaign." So the guy that Senator Dole says "misled" them on the Souter nomination -- and this is important to me because we're hearing, "Senator McCain is going to be right down the line on appointing these great judges, these constructionist judges," and yet Dole admits in his letter to me they were misled on Souter, and the guy that misled them was Warren Rudman, who's a bigwig in the McCain campaign! "Number three, McCain supported voluntary school prayer. Number four, he supported constitutional amendment for balanced budget. We needed two-thirds; we lost by a vote. Strong advocate for reducing spending and opposing pork barrel earmarks. Consistent on defending Second Amendment rights. Opposed to Hillary Care, which would have been devastating," but now supports something just as devastating and that's the left's view of manmade global warming, the economic disaster that would result.
"Probably the Senate's strongest advocate," number eight here, "for strong national defense." Then number nine is where it gets interesting: "Of course, Senator McCain has cast many votes since I left. I totally disagreed with the McCain-Feingold legislation." Yeah. A lot of us did -- and a lot of us, by the way, are not comforted by Senator McCain's statement that he's changed his mind, and do you want to know why? From his own mouth, Senator McCain, he's been asked recently, "If the legislation came before you again, as president, would you sign it?" "Yes, but it's not. It's not going to. We're past that." He has said he would sign it again! He might have the chance, given the makeup of the House and Senate. We're told and we're told to believe that he's seen the light on this, that he's changed his mind on these things; when he's saying right to our face, if the same legislation crossed his desk as president, he would sign it. Now, Senator Dole just kind of says, well, I disagree with the McCain-Feingold legislation. "On immigration, Senator McCain was not in the Senate when Congress passed President Reagan's immigration legislation, which passed overwhelmingly. It granted 2.7 million illegals amnesty. It was not much different than the 2007 McCain-Kennedy-Bush effort." Now, this, you know, some red flags went up here.
Let's go back and revisit President Reagan's illegal immigration effort in 1987. That was called Simpson-Mazzoli, and, yes, we granted amnesty to 2.7 million illegals -- and part of the deal was that that would be the end of them because we were going to enforce the borders. Well, we granted amnesty to 2.7 million, and now we're up to what? Twelve to 20 million! It didn't work, Senator Dole. It did not work, and to send me a letter and claim that the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill: Hey, Rush, it's the same thing Reagan signed in '87. It was like a mistake, and we don't want to compound the mistake. Beyond that, Senator Dole, there are many of us who understand exactly what McCain-Kennedy was all about. The Democrats are running out of victims. With the prosperity of this economy creating more entrepreneurs and more self-sufficient people, the Democrats are running out of people who would depend on them. A flood of illegal immigrants into this country as amnesty and 12 million to 20 million and not shutting the borders -- which was part of that deal -- would just bring an influx of brand-new Democrats across the border, and that itself would have caused great damage to the Republican Party.
Who was the coauthor of a piece of legislation that was going to do great damage to his own party? It was Senator McCain. To say there that this is no different... "Hey, we did it in '87." Yeah, why repeat the error? He then says in the next paragraph, Senator Dole in his letter to me, "I disagreed with his votes against the Bush tax cuts." Well, I put a period in there; Senator Dole doesn't. He goes on. "I disagree with the votes against the Bush tax cuts." Yeah. A lot of us do. Tax cuts are fundamentally a Republican issue. A Republican president proposed them. A Republican senator opposed them, who now wants us to forget it! "I disagree with his votes against the Bush tax cuts but I believe his pledge to make them permanent," meaning again Senator McCain has changed his mind. Yeah, well, think the tax cuts did a good thing. I'm going to make 'em permanent now. Senator Dole believes. There's just too much evidence to make me not as confident. Let me put it that way. He also writes, "I do not agree with Senator McCain that Governor Romney ever suggested a timetable for troop withdrawals in Iraq." Okay, so he disagrees with his votes on the Bush tax cuts. He disagrees with what he said about Romney. He disagreed with McCain-Feingold.
He worked with Senator McCain from '87 to '96. That's nine years. Senator McCain has been in the Senate 11 years since Bob Dole left. It's that record Senator Dole references here, and most of it he says he disagrees with. "McCain is a friend. I proudly wore his POW bracelet bearing his name while he was a guest at the Hanoi Hilton." A lot of people wore POW bracelets in the seventies and eighties. "I believe our major candidates are mainstream conservatives. Our nominee will address our concerns by keeping taxes low, reducing corporate taxes, protecting and assisting the vulnerable, strengthening our traditional values, and above all, keeping America strong militarily whatever the cost. Whoever wins the Republican nomination will need your support. Two terms for the Clintons are enough. God bless America." Yeah, he said "whoever wins the nomination" will need my support.
Whoever. So it's not an endorsement of McCain. Then he goes on and sends me some calculations of Senate voting records and says, "McCain's second only to Jesse Helms." Now, that's going to be a tough sell. Now, one thing before we go to the break. I know I'll be a little long here. It's about Senator Dole telling me what he believes McCain will do. Isn't that the point? McCain has trademarked himself as the "maverick." A maverick is what? Unpredictable. He goes his own way. There's nobody who knows which way McCain will go unless you're Ted Kennedy, unless you are Russ Feingold or Joe Lieberman. Then you have a pretty good idea. Unless you're in the New York Times or the Washington Post. You have a pretty good idea where McCain is going to go. Now, the reason the current dispute with maverick McCain exists is because of McCain's known highly liberal record. By the way, as I said yesterday, "I actually don't think Senator McCain is a maverick. He's swimming with the tide." The genuine maverick American politics today -- sadly, because we need one on our side -- happens to be me.
RUSH: Okay, so let's cut to the chase here. Where are we after this quite interesting exposé that is the first hour of the Rush Limbaugh program? Where we are is this, as far as the Bob Dole letter is concerned. Bob Dole was not in the Senate for the following: McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, McCain-Kennedy-Edwards, McCain-Lieberman, the Gang of 14, the Bush tax cuts that McCain opposed of 2001 and 2003. In other words, ladies and gentlemen, Senator Dole was not around for any of it, to put a fine point on it. You see, Bob Dole is something that John McCain isn't. Loyal Republican.