RUSH: From Manchester, New Hampshire: "On the day Mitt Romney rolled out the endorsement of Senator John McCain of Arizona, a 'super PAC' backing Newt Gingrich dug out an old gem and put in on the Web." This is from the New York Times blog, by the way, The Caucus.
"The PAC, Winning Our Future, posted a commercial slamming Mr. Romney by using past footage of him offering conflicting positions on issues like abortion, gun control and what it means to be a Republican." One example is: "'I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard,' he says. But moments later, in another clip, he says: 'You can go back to YouTube and look at what I said. I never said I was pro-choice.' But it's the kicker to the ad that makes it significant. 'I'm John McCain and I approved this message' ..."
So Newt is running PAC ads that are just like Romney's PAC ads against Newt in Iowa, except these ads are chronicling all of Romney's flip-flops -- and then they end up with McCain saying he approved because McCain ran these ads against Romney, too. And it was McCain who endorsed Romney yesterday. So Newt is firing both barrels. In light of that comes this next story from AP News: John "McCain Says GOP Should Settle Quickly on Romney," and just be done with it. McCain "says Republicans need to 'get this thing done with as quickly as possible and get into the main event.'" "Just two days after the first votes in the race to pick a Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain says it’s time to wrap things up."
Let's just nominate Romney and be done with it. (McCain impression) "Let's just move on, my friends! Let's just move on. Be done with it. It's over with." Meanwhile, Rasmussen's out with some polling data: Santorum coming off the photo finish with Romney in the Hawkeye Cauci is now in second place. "The latest Rasmussen Reports national self survey taken the night after the Iowa Caucus shows Romney again in first place, 29%, likely Republican primary voters. Santorum at 21%." He was in single digits. Santorum at 21%. Newt Gingrich has 16%. Ron Paul's at 12%, and Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman have 4% each in the latest survey from Rasmussen.
Audio sound bites. There have been a lot of sound bites here that have been building up. We're just up to number two. Well, we've had some interims come in. But remember yesterday, we played the sound bite of Steve Schmidt, the campaign consultant/the adviser to McCain who said, "Limbaugh doesn't change any votes. Limbaugh doesn't influence anyone! I don't know why people care." Schmidt said, "I don't know why people listen. I mean Limbaugh's not gonna change the way people vote." This morning on Morning Joe at MSNBC, they had Politico executive editor and cofounder Jim VandeHei, and they were talking about the Republican primary. The co-host Willie Geist said, "Jim VandeHei, who's the one that goes to Newt Gingrich and says, 'Newt, you gotta get out of this race! We're getting behind Santorum?' How does that work?"
VANDEHEI: You try to get all these voices to speak with one voice about the candidate that they want to support. So if you had suddenly had a Rush Limbaugh, some of these candidates who might drop out of the race all endorsing one candidate -- pushing for one candidate -- it could get the movement to coalesce.
RUSH: Steve Schmidt, McCain consultant, said nobody listens to Limbaugh. Jim VandeHei of Politico said if Limbaugh would choose somebody. It's what he just said here: "If Limbaugh would go to these guys and say, "Okay, it's Santorum. Everybody get out," then that's what it would take. I'm just playing you what they're saying. Politico guy says, I have that influence. The Republican guy says I don't. On the Record with Greta, Fox last night, Rick Klein, ABC News' The Note. They played a clip of me saying, "This idea that Obama is helped by this ongoing Republican race is poppycock." I said yesterday that they were saying that the Republicans continuing the primary fight helps Obama. I said, that's crazy; and Greta asked Rick Klein about that last night.
KLEIN: I think the White House would rather see a prolonged fight but I think that Rush has a very good point there. During 2008 when Romney (sic) and Obama were going at it no one thought that would be good for future President Obama, ended up making a difference. It allowed President Obama to build a grassroots organization. More than that I think it made him a better candidate and I think that's likely to happen now with Republicans. The Republican candidate will almost certainly emerge stronger from this nomination process --
RUSH: That's exactly right.
KLEIN: -- because they're gonna be better. There's nothing that's gonna be said about the eventual Republican nominee that President Obama and his allies aren't gonna say and be meaner about it.
RUSH: Hey, look, here it's real simple. The conventional wisdom is that the Republican primary fight ought to just stop because the longer it goes, it helps Obama. That's bull! Remember, Hillary and Obama (he meant to say "Hillary and Obama," not "Romney and Obama") went on through June! It went on through June. Operation Chaos. It went on through June. The Democrats want this over, too. They want Romney! The Democrats, Obama, the media, they want this over. They want Romney. But Klein was saying: Look, Rush is right, the longer this goes on, it helps the Republicans. They get their message out longer, they have the debate longer, more people get to know 'em. It's a win-win to have this go on.
RUSH: What was the most important point I made on the program yesterday? Do you remember? I even said to a caller it was the most important point I made on the radio yesterday. It was my proper definition of what big government means to Santorum. They came out and tried to hit Santorum as a big government conservative, people on our side. And I had to put that in perspective, and I did. And from the strangest quarter, from the strangest media quarter, a very unlikely suspect agreed with me.
Mark McKinnon, cofounder of No Labels. Mark McKinnon, who ran all of George W. Bush's media in 2000 and 2004. He was on The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on PMSNBC last night. They played a clip of me saying that the big government that Santorum supports is a government that protects by enforcing the law, be it right to life, the border, immigration, strong government. Not a redistributionist government, not a high tax big government. O'Donnell said, "Can your pals, Mark, in the Romney campaign find a way to make that big government Republican thing stick on Santorum, especially when he has big defenders like Limbaugh working for him?"
MCKINNON: I think it's gonna be hard. Santorum is a clear conservative who's, you know, got a very long record and a consistent record with conservatives, so I think that line of attack is gonna be difficult, and I think it's gonna be tough for Gingrich to go after him. I don't think that Romney's attacks on Santorum as big government, although it's, you know, it is the last "oppo-file" that they've got and they've been through 'em all so they're gonna drop it and put a ton of weight behind it.
RUSH: It's not gonna work because big government means high tax, redistribution, government control over everything, that's not what Santorum is. He's not a big government guy in that way. It was a very important distinction I made yesterday. Here's McCain. I think the question here, O'Donnell said, "Can your pals in the Romney campaign." So one of Romney's pals here is Mark McKinnon of No Labels. He's a moderate. I'll leave it there, leave it there, connect the dots thyself. Here is Santorum himself, by the way. Brentwood, New Hampshire, town hall meeting, Q&A, audience member said, "They're already calling you a big government conservative. I don't believe that, but they're saying it. How are you gonna make government small?"
SANTORUM: The people who call me a big government guy are Libertarians, and that's fine. If you want to be a Libertarian and you don't believe in really any size or structure of government to speak of that's fine. That's not, in my opinion, the founding principles of our country, that's not how our Constitution was laid out. The government does in fact have certain powers and obligations. For example, national security, and it's not just building a wall around America and trying to defend us from attack and keeping everything here, so there is a difference. And so I defend myself and say I am a Reagan conservative.
RUSH: Exactly right, folks. This big government thing is not gonna work. It's an indication that it is a negative for anybody to be big government. They're trying to tack that on to Santorum. But we conservatives have to admit that we want an active government defending the law, protecting the unborn, defending the border, helping to preserve the culture. We don't want a government that robs from people and gives to others. We don't want a high tax, bloated government of omnipotent power.