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McCain Campaign Manager Blames Rush Limbaugh for McCain's Loss

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, have you thought back to the 2008 election? Have you asked yourself who was responsible for that loss? Have you asked yourself who really should shoulder the blame and the burden for the defeat of Senator McCain? A lot of people have been speculating this, a lot of postmortems on the election. Let's go to the BBC. BBC World Service, host Stephen Sackur spoke with former McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and asked Rick Davis on whose shoulders rests the burden of the McCain defeat.

DAVIS: We didn't successfully reach out to them. I mean, but you look at the leadership John McCain gave which is counter to the direction that the party was headed, when you have the Rush Limbaughs of the world who, you know, literally almost feed the nativist attitude toward immigration reform, what do you think the Hispanic voter, the Latino voter is gonna remember? They're gonna remember the attacks, not the efforts by people like John McCain to try and reform.

RUSH: So there you have it, Rick Davis, the campaign manager for McCain, has dumped on my shoulders the reason McCain lost and others like me alienated Hispanic voters. This is so wrong on so many levels, but it explains why this campaign was so inept. A brief time-out. Just wanted you to hear that so you could stew over it.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Look, I don't want to spend a whole lot of time on the McCain campaign because it's the past. I got some e-mails and Mr. Snerdley said, "Is that all you're going to say about it, that it just proves the ineptitude of the McCain campaign?" I'll say a little bit more but it's the past. The thing about McCain that's more interesting to me than he lost is what I'm hearing from a lot of people, and that is, you know, the Democrats in the Senate right now are happy. They have 58 or 59 seats. Depending on what happens in the finals of the Stuart Smalley/Norm Coleman race, they can have 58 or 59 seats. Everybody says, "Well, whew! Whew! Boy, that means they don't have their 60 votes." Au contraire. You know who's going to get the 60 votes for Obama in the Senate? Do you know who's going to get the 60 votes for Harry Reid?

It will be John McCain. John McCain does not want his legacy to be that he lost the presidential race. He wants his legacy to be that he's a deal-maker. He wants his legacy to be that he walked across the aisle, that he's bipartisan, that he's bigger than life, blah, blah, blah. So I guarantee you, McCain will be the guy that shepherds wayward, liberal, Northeastern Republicans to vote with Democrats on some issues, some bills, in order to give the Democrats their filibuster-proof majority of 60 or more votes. Now, that's in the cards. I don't think there's any question about it. It's exactly who McCain is, and that's why he lost! Most Republicans perceived McCain as a Democrat. When you get right down to it, that's how he was viewed.

To the extent that 55 million people voted for him, a good percentage of those 55 million were simply voting against Obama. Now, the fact that Rick Davis goes to the BBC to blame me for McCain's loss because of my "nativism" that I somehow infuriated Hispanics, I reject the whole notion. We were talking about ILLEGAL immigration, and McCain, just like in campaign finance reform, had authored legislation that would have granted amnesty to 12 million to 20 million people that we all knew would become Democrats. We also knew that Republicans succeed not when they go after groups, but when they go after Americans. Groups are victims, and when the Republican Party is going to emulate the Democrat Party, "We gotta get the Walmart middle class voters! We gotta show that we'll spend in early money on them and we gotta get women and we gotta go get blacks and Hispanics, Asians, whatever minorities."

I mean, that's what happened to the Republican Party. They became Democrat Party Light. McCain gave nobody any substantive reason to vote for him. Essentially, he ran a Democrat campaign when it came to illegal immigration, global warming, campaign finance, interfering in the private sector. And this is why McCain is far more comfortable working with congressional Democrats than Republicans, and McCain will be the guy that gets Harry Reid his 60 votes in the Senate whenever Reid needs them. Mark. My. Words. Now, this immigration issue, sure. Minor little things like the rule of law, economic conditions in border states. There's an exodus of people from California for a whole host of reasons, but among them, it's simply too expensive to do business and live there.

One of the reasons it's too expensive to live there is because of all the benefits and services that are parceled out to illegals. We're going to have to refight this all over again, I just know it, because it's going to be at the top of the agenda because these are 12 to 20 million future Democrat voters. They were never going to be Republican voters even if McCain had not been criticized on this. They were being appealed to as liberals. They were being appealed to, "Trust us, the government, to take care of you." That's not the Republican message; it's not a conservative message, but that's what McCain and the Republicans want because the Republicans don't care how they get 'em, they just want votes. You know, sometimes I think I'm the Republican in name only. Not those guys. I think I am!

I'm the last man standing here. Common sense is gone. It's blown out the window. But I enjoy it, don't misunderstand. I'm not complaining about being the last man standing. Democrats don't care about crime and the decaying culture in border states or economic conditions. They're driven by their beliefs, not facts. McCain's no different in this regard. McCain lost people because he couldn't generate enthusiasm for his candidacy. You know, people have long memories, something that you... Rick Davis, you know what you ought to stop and think about, too? When your guy went into the tank with the mainstream media and did everything he could to make the mainstream media love him, calling the mainstream his "base."

You Republican consultants, you're going to have to learn something very fast: Republican voters that you need to win elections think the mainstream media is as much the enemy as any Democrat candidate is going to be. And sidling up and trying to get the approval of a bunch of incompetent boobs who have sided with Democrats for the last 50 years is not the way to engender support, ongoing support and get a mandate. This campaign never had a prayer and everybody knew it from the get-go. It never had a prayer. (sigh) I mean, for crying out loud, McCain became Sominex. There wasn't any caffeine until Palin came around and it just wasn't enough. I'm glad that at least he didn't blame Palin. I think he's a little off message. The Republican Party's message is to blame her! Stop and think that. Back to the phones, or to the phones. We haven't been there yet.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: This is Laurel, Maryland. Ivan's been holding on for a while. Great to have you here, Ivan. Welcome to the EIB Network.

CALLER: Well, thank you very much. I gotta say I'm a little bit nervous, it's my first time calling, but at any rate, I'm a proud black Christian conservative, and you were just talking with Ann about taking blame, and I think strategy-wise, to me, I think some of the talk show hosts, including yourself, could probably take some blame that Obama's going to be inaugurated because back in the primary, when Huckabee -- there was a time in the election when everybody wanted Huckabee to drop out so the conservatives could coalesce behind Romney, but then as it turned out, Romney dropped out first, but then, you know, nobody coalesced behind Huckabee. To me, if you were going to have to hold your nose and vote for a conservative, Huckabee would have been a far greater candidate than McCain.

RUSH: Let me help you with something here. You are asserting here that I had the power to coalesce people around Huckabee, and since I chose not to do it, we got McCain, and therefore you are somewhat blaming me --

CALLER: Yes, I am.

RUSH: -- that we lost because McCain is the nominee. All right, you tell me what I am supposed to do when I am sent an e-mail quoting a Huckabee campaign advisor speaking anonymously saying, "We don't care about Limbaugh, he's just part of the Republican National Committee talking points, he just says what he's being fed to say by the Republican establishment." I mean the e-mail I got was entitled, "Huckabee Forces Attack Limbaugh." Now, what am I supposed to do there, Ivan?

CALLER: Well, Rush, what I want to say is --

RUSH: I don't endorse people during primaries anyway. Candidates are supposed to win elections, not me.

CALLER: You're absolutely right, Rush, and I'm gonna say I agree with what you said, but at the same time I believe that for the sake of the country, I believe that you are bigger than that, to jump past it, and you have to look at what's best for the country, and I think, you know, while I don't know a lot about Huckabee, I just know that Huckabee would have been a better candidate than McCain.

RUSH: Well, I should be a bigger man than that. It's not that it insulted me, it's not that I was being petulant and saying, "Oh, yeah, you're sending your guys out to anonymously insult me, then screw you," that wasn't my attitude. My attitude was why did these guys need to start taking shots at everybody else in the Republican Party? It showed a temperament and a campaign organization that kind of did not inspire confidence. So it had nothing to do that I was offended and decided I wasn't going to support. Besides, at the end of the day what happened out there, Ivan, was that McCain and Huckabee teamed up because Huckabee at some point realized he was not going to win the nomination and both McCain and Huckabee hated Romney, because of the negative ads he was running, and so they sort of combined forces, starting in West Virginia, where Romney won in the first ballot, but not enough to win, so Huckabee and McCain combined forces in the second ballot to beat Romney, and that pretty much is what started the Romney decline, and then of course there's what happened in Florida with Charlie Crist on the Saturday before the election endorsing McCain, when he had said he was going to endorse somebody else. It was a comedy of errors. But what it boils down to, and the reason the Republican primary -- and I will agree with you, by the way, Ivan, I will agree with you that I have the power you have assigned to me. I don't doubt it at all, and it's just a question to me of the responsible use of the power. And I must tell you as I -- well, I'm long here. I gotta take a time-out. Nobody inspired me, is the point.

END TRANSCRIPT

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