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Romney Attempts to Display His "Severe" Conservatism at CPAC

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I promised Mitt Romney sound bites from CPAC and we're we go. We have one, two, three.... We have four of them here.  And, well, just run 'em here. We'll comment on 'em as warranted.

ROMNEY:  As conservatives we're united by a set of core convictions.  Not everyone has taken the same path to get here.  There are college students at this conference who are reading Burke and...

STUDENTS: (cheering)

ROMNEY: My guess is some of you got here by reading Burke and Hayek.  When I was your age you could have been told me that they were infielderers for the Detroit Tigers.

AUDIENCE: (laughing)

RUSH:  Whoa, that doesn't sound like it went over very well.  No, what Romney's doing there is he's acknowledging that he hasn't been a conservative from conception or he has arrived at his conservatism via his own path.  By the way, I'm told anecdotally -- I haven't seen picture myself -- that the crowd at CPAC this year is huge and that it is large.  I don't know how many of them are Ron Paul bots, but that could be account for some of the yutes who are there.  But Burke, of course, is fundamental to understanding conservatism.  So is Friedrich Von Hayek.  And Romney is saying, "Look, I'm one of you. I'm a conservative. I just didn't get her the way you did.  Back when I was your age, I didn't know who Friedrich Von Hayek was. And I know, some of you, when did you learn who Von Hayek was."

And I know some of you are asking (snidely), "When did you learn who Friedrich Von Hayek was, Limbaugh?" That would be from National Review, William F. Buckley's magazine.  In fact, I'll tell you a little story -- a short little story.  Back in the seventies, I heard about National Review, and I thought you had to have permission to subscribe to it.  I know that sounds stupid, and it was. It was silly. I remember I kept hearing about it, but I'd never seen it so I thought it was very exclusive. I never saw it on newsstand, I'd never seen anybody that had it, but I'd heard about it.  So I got the guts one day to call them and I'm sure I sounded very tentative and nervous on the phone. 

I didn't even know if I had the permission to even call, so the operator answered, "Hi, National Review." 

I said, "Hi, I'm calling from Kansas City.  Is there anything special I have to do to subscribe to the magazine?" 

She said, "Yes.  Pay for it."

"Is that all?  I don't need permission?" 

She was dumbfounded that I was asking permission to subscribe.  So, anyway, I subscribed to it and I started reading it.  Next up was the American Spectator.  I don't even remember who wrote the piece. It might have been Mr. Buckley himself, but he talked about Hayek and taxation.  I was enthralled immediately, and I said, "I never heard of this. Who is this?" I began to learn everything I could about Friedrich Von Hayek, and the two primary books are The Road to Serfdom, which the Heritage Foundation has given way to people in this audience for a time when they joined the Heritage Foundation) and then The Constitution of Liberty, which is a really deep. That's deeper than The Road to Serfdom, but they're brilliant books. They're definitional. They're defining.  And all Romney's saying here is, "I didn't know who Hayek was."  It almost might be just dropping the name now, in fact.  We don't know that he's read Hayek, Von Hayek.  He wants people to think that he has.  Here's the next bite, and we will analyze as warranted.

ROMNEY:  In business, if you're not fiscally conservative, you're bankrupt. 

AUDIENCE: (applause) 

ROMNEY: I mean, I spent 25 years balancing budgets, eliminating waste. (chuckles) By the way, keeping as far away from government as humanly possible.

AUDIENCE: (applause) 

ROMNEY:  I did some of the very things conservatism is designed for: I started new businesses and turned around broken ones.  And I'm not ashamed to say that I was successful in doing it. 

AUDIENCE: (cheers and applause.)

RUSH:  So there.  He's explaining had you his business experience brought him to conservatism and you heard the applause.  It went on and on a little longer.  We've edited it for brevity here, but again he's making the proclamation that he's an ashamed of his success.  Here's the next bite.

ROMNEY:  When I am president I will defend the Defense of Marriage Act --

AUDIENCE: (applause) 

ROMNEY: -- and I will fight for an amendment to our Constitution that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. 

AUDIENCE: (applause) 

ROMNEY: During my term in office I also stood up to those who wanted to call into question the very definition of life.  I vetoed a bill that would have opened the door to cloning and to embryo farming.  I vetoed a bill that would have allowed young girls to obtain access to abortion-inducing drugs.  I fought for abstinence education in our schools. 

AUDIENCE: (applause) 

ROMNEY: My state was a leading indicator of what liberals would be trying to do across the country and they're trying to do now, and I fought against long odds in a deep blue state, but I was a severely conservative Republican governor. 

AUDIENCE: (cheers and applause) 

RUSH:  I've... Look, I don't want to make anybody mad here.  It's the end of a really hectic and busy week here -- and you know I'm not a complainer.  You people have no idea of the distractions that each program has had this week that I've had to fight through and try to ignore because I don't complain. So don't get mad.  I may be a little giddy here.  I have never anybody say, "I'm severely conservative."  Don't get mad. I'm not... (interruption) No, I've never heard anybody say it.  (interruption) No, I'm not challenging his claim to be conservative, don't misunderstand. I don't want to get inundated here by Romney supporters. I'm not putting him down. 

I'm just observing here. I've never heard it said, "Yeah, I'm a severe conservative."  But I know what he's trying to say.  Now, I should add something here.  Remember last year during the early days of the campaign -- before the votes even began, before any of the primaries had taken place -- I successfully, correctly identified for you what the Republican establishment strategy was.  They were running a primary campaign 180 degrees out of phase from normal.  The way you normally run a primary campaign, either party, is (and this is conventional wisdom) to get the base of your party's votes, you pander to them.  You speak to them.  You just go, in this case Romney's, and you be conservative. 

And then after you win the nomination and go to the general election, then you "move to the center; try to get the moderates."  That's the formula.  I frankly reject it, but that's the formula.  I hate formulas, period that involve people.  There's too much dynamism there for a formula to be constantly applicable.  Nevertheless, this year the Republican establishment did it the exact opposite way.  They tried to secure the moderates first.  That's why there was such an effort to get this nomination wrapped up for Mitt Romney before the votes even took place.  You may have forgotten, but going back through last fall and into the last Christmas holidays, there was a full-court press. "Let's get these primaries going!" Nobody else had a prayer and they wanted Romney nominated.

"Let's have this thing done with," and they were doing it running not for the conservative vote, but for the moderate and independent votes.  And I'll tell you what that's resulted in.  This morning, before his speech, Romney (or maybe it was yesterday) had a meeting with conservative leaders to assure them that he is one of them.  He had a private meeting in a presidential suite in the hotel to assure various leader from the NRA and other such conservative groups that he is conservative, "severely conservative." He had a meeting to say, "I'm severely conservative." (interruption)  I don't know if it was a "severe" meeting.  I wasn't there. But... (sigh) I don't know.  Let's just go on to the next Romney sound bite, shall we?  And I've lost my place.  Where are we? 

Oh, "severely conservative" governor. Here's the big finish.  This is the last Romney bite that we've got.

ROMNEY:  We believe in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence!  We believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!  We know the brilliance that suggested that individuals pursuing their own dreams would make us the most powerful nation on earth, not a government trying to guide our lives.  This is who we are! This passion we must take to the American people.  This is our moment! This is why we're conservatives.  The task before us now is to reaffirm the convictions that unite us and go forward, shoulder to shoulder, to secure victory that America so desperately needs and deserves. 

CROWD: (cheering)

ROMNEY: Let's do it together! Thank you, and God bless America. 

CROWD: (cheers and applause)

ROMNEY: Thank you.

RUSH:  Right on, dude.  Right on.  I mean, that's... What did you think of that, Snerdley?  Did you it? That was! It was severe.  It was.  It was "severely conservative."  You know that I'm just gonna get beat up so bad for this.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I haven't had a chance, obviously, to watch much of what's gone on at CPAC. But apparently all the speeches that people telling me about it, all the speeches they have seen have been excellent.  Positive, uplifting. Especially the Republican candidates and their supporters. They have, for the most part, stuck to laying out their vision for conservatism rather than sniping at each other.  If that's an accurate representation of what's going on there, it's a good thing.  Newt's up this afternoon sometime, and that'll take care of the candidates for the most part. 

RUSH: Paul in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, great to have you on the program.  Hello, sir.

CALLER: (heavy static) Yeah, great to speak with you, Rush.  Listening to those clips by Mr. Romney, I have to say that it's going to take some kind of a Jedi mind trick for him to convince those of us on the conservative side of the party that he's conservative.  But, anyway, the last --

RUSH:  Hold it! Hold it! Whoa! Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold it a second.  So the sound bites we just played did not convince you, Romney did not convince you of his conservatism there?

CALLER:  Not at all. If you look at his record and what he's been saying so far in the campaign, they're almost polar oppose.  But what I wanted to do is get to --

RUSH:  Okay, wait, wait, wait. No, no. You'll have time.  I just want to make sure I get this.  So you didn't think that that speech that you heard, the sound bites from the speech, alleviated any fears people might have over the record that you think he's got? That speech didn't make you think, "Okay, that's the past. This is the real Romney now. This is the guy, I can go forward with." It didn't work like that with you?

CALLER:  No, it's a wonderful speech. He presses all the right buttons, he says all the right words, but the problem is we know what he's been doing in the past.  He has a record he has to live with.

RUSH:  Okay, so is there...? For you, is there anything he could do to change your perception of him?

CALLER:  In my case, no.

RUSH:  Okay.  That's fair.

CALLER:  I'd like to speak for a moment if I may about the last true conservative in the rate, Senator Santorum, and you play some clips of his speech at CPAC earlier. Not only is he giving strong speeches at CPAC but he's also winning primaries.  On Tuesday he won three primaries. Two caucuses. He won Colorado and Minnesota, he beat Romney 45-17, and Minnesota caucus, 28-point win.  And the Missouri primary contest, which was actually a presidential preference primary, he beat Romney by 30 points, 55-25.  And what was particularly notable about the Missouri contest was that on the Democratic side of the house, Barack Obama was at the head of the ticket and received 64,405 votes; and Mr. Romney on the Republican side got 63,826.  So the president outscored Mr. Romney in the Missouri presidential preference primary contest.  More bad news for Mr. Romney, the ... um ... secretary of state of... I'm sorry, the Department of State of Florida released the final statistics from the January 31st Florida primary, which revealed that although Mr. Romney won the overall contest with 46.4% of the vote, he lost almost all the northern counties, which is essentially -- since we both live in Florida, I'm sure you're aware...

RUSH:  Well, that was somewhat expected and it's also expected that Newt and/or Santorum are going to do better in the southern state primaries of Super Tuesday, than Romney.  That's not unexpected.  It's not slam did you think for Romney that they thought it was going to be.  There's no question about it.  The Not-Romney, somebody still continues to surface in that role.  Right now it's Santorum.  Thanks, Paul, for the phone call.

END TRANSCRIPT

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