RUSH: Now, I read a piece by a guy named Ben Domenech over the weekend called "The Trouble with Mitt," and it's got a couple points here that are worthy of pointing out. Actually, they belong to Jim Pethokoukis, who writes at Reuters, and is also, I think, a sitting fellow (as opposed to a standing fellow) at AEI. This was Pethokoukis' point: "Mitt Romney wants to be the next president of a country in need of serious and sweeping economic reform. And here are the first two points in his 59-point economic plan: 1. Maintain current tax rates on personal income. 2. Maintain current tax rates on interest, dividends and capital gains."
In an era where vast reform is necessary, where rolling things back is a must? Pethokoukis says, "Now imagine private-equity boss Romney back at Bain Capital sitting down to read his team's 59-point turnaround plan for some troubled widget maker. And imagine if the first two action items started with the phrase 'Maintain current ....' Romney probably wouldn't bother reading any further before tossing the report in the trash," and it's a good point. Here we're in the need of vast reform, and the first two items in Romney's 59-point economic overhaul are "Maintain current tax rates..."
RUSH: Las Vegas is next. This is Mark. Great to have you, sir. Hello.
CALLER: Rush, halfhearted dittos from battleground central. I listened to you at the top of the hour go out and misrepresent Governor Romney and just about drove off the road. And my complaint is... My complaint is that you're doing a better job with Operation Chaos in our own primary than Andrea Mitchell. I mean, you... She was going off on -- on Mitt at ten o'clock, and now you continue it. And it's disingenuous for somebody who -- who I grew up with telling me how we should be rewarded as a meritocracy. That's who that guy is. When did we...? When did we say...? You know, the -- the -- the phrase is, "It's not the economy, stupid, anymore," right?
RUSH: Wait. Hold it just a second. I am so unused to and unaccustomed to people disagreeing with me that I need to ask you to start again. What is it you are upset with me about?
CALLER: The way that you are mischaracterizing Governor Romney.
RUSH: How did I do that?
CALLER: At the top of the hour you said his 59-point plan, which I was... By the way, they rolled that out in north Las Vegas, which has been devastated by the Obama economy.
RUSH: All I did was read from a blog post quoting a guy named James Pethokoukis, and I happened to think he made a good point. He talked about the first two points of Romney's 59-point plan, which are to "maintain current tax rates."
CALLER: And if you were -- and if you were -- and, Rush, and if you were gonna play it straight you'd say, "Well, what is that...? What's that saying? What does Obama want to do with the tax structure? He wants to increase the rates on everything."
CALLER: And so because he uses the word "maintain" instead of --
RUSH: You really...?
CALLER: -- taxes --
RUSH: You really...? You're a Romney supporter, and you really want to think about what you're saying to me.
CALLER: (screaming) No, Rush! No! I AM A CONSERVATIVE! Don't... Don't label me! I am a conservative, and I want to beat Obama! That's who I am!
RUSH: All right. Then let me tell you something: A Republican seeking the presidential nomination who doesn't propose tax cuts has got a problem, plain and simple. And it's not a tax cut if you're gonna say, "Well, Obama's gonna raise taxes, maintaining 'em..." That's not a tax cut. That does not --
CALLER: It could be tax increases. If we have Barack Obama, it'll be tax increases, right?
RUSH: That does not do anything to change the economic climate whatsoever. I'm simply stating that we're in an era where massive reform is going to be needed if we're gonna reverse the direction we're already headed --
CALLER: I agree, Rush.
RUSH: -- and "maintaining" the status quo is not gonna do that!
CALLER: I agree with that. Are we gonna get massive reform from a guy who has done nothing in his adult life other than suck at the teat of government? And then when he left, he became a multimillionaire, quote, unquote, "consulting."
CALLER: He's never had an executive position in his life!
RUSH: Wait a second. I need names. Who is it?
CALLER: Santorum! Santorum! And Newt as well.
RUSH: Okay, so Newt and Santorum suck on the teat of government?
CALLER: (screaming) Look at how they make their money! And I love you, Rush! I love you! I'm upset with myself that I'm getting upset.
RUSH: Don't worry about getting upset. Don't worry. I can handle it. I'm not used to it, but I can handle it.
CALLER: When did we...? When did we...?
RUSH: But you are for Romney. Why can't you just say you're for Romney?
CALLER: (stuttering) I'm for Romney! So now I'm being attacked because I'm for Romney?
RUSH: No, you're not being attacked.
CALLER: (shouting) What are you sticking up for? Excellence?
RUSH: You're not being attacked, and I didn't say I was opposed to Romney.
CALLER: Well, you don't have to be Nostradamus to make the inference that you are opposed to Romney.
RUSH: The thing is, I know, for example, what's in my mind, and nobody else does, and I know what my next words are gonna be, and you don't. You are assuming here just with a casual observation of a guy on a blog, and I said, "You know, I think this is a good point, pure and simple." It was not meant to crucify Romney. It was not meant to end his candidacy. If anything, it might have been meant -- who knows -- as some advice.
CALLER: Anyway, Rush, I love you. I always have, no question. But the argument here is are we gonna have an entitlement society or a meritocracy society, right? Being rewarded for excellence. And the one candidate on our side who has actually lived it, and has lived excellence and has made something out of it, is Mitt Romney. You know, greed, for lack of a better word, is good.
CALLER: Newt will not win Florida.
RUSH: All that's fine.
CALLER: Mitt will win South Carolina, and Santorum can't win Florida. He can't win Nevada.
RUSH: I told you, you were not gonna want to go down this road. How many primaries has Romney won? Just tell me. How many has he won?
CALLER: Which one since he won? But aside from that --
RUSH: No, you're assuming he's the frontrunner. You're assuming a whole lot of things here. You're assuming he's the only guy that can win. You're assume he's the only conservative. You're assuming that he's the only guy that understands the free market.
CALLER: No, he's the only leader, Rush, he's the only leader.
RUSH: Okay. So we got a new one added here, new leader. Okay.
CALLER: It's leadership, stupid. What have those guys ever done? They worked for government, they left government, and they made money.
RUSH: I said last week, this Republican primary is causing people to lose friendships. I mean in their personal lives, it's probably happening the same to you out there. But this is, I think, a good illustration of just how roiled the whole Republican side is. Now, I could sit here, I could refute everything you're saying here by telling you what people who are opposed to Romney say. They say, "How do you know any of this? He flip-flops on so many things." That's not me saying it; that's what the book on him is. I am the one guy who hasn't chosen anybody. I'm the one guy who has said whoever wins this thing, I'm in 'em hundred percent. I am the one guy who has said the objective here is get rid of Obama. I'm the one guy who's said, when this is all over, I'm gonna make sure I have not put myself in a situation where I cannot with credibility support whoever it is that wins it. And that is the position that I'm taking on all of this.
It's very simple. He's for Romney and he loves me, and he wants me to be for Romney. And since I'm not for Romney, he's upset with me. I didn't say I'm not for Romney. In his words I'm not for Romney. He thinks I'm not for Romney because of the criticism of Romney. So he's upset. He loves me. He likes me. He wants to be on the same page I'm on. But he feels so strong about it that if I told him to get on the Newt page, that would end it. If I said, "You know, buddy, I'm on the Newt page." No, no, he's got his mind made up. That's why the opposition to all these candidates is what is remarkable about this primary. I talked about this last week, and maybe it was the week before.
The opposition to each of these guys is so strong that there's no way -- for example, this guy is so much for Romney, there's nothing that he could be persuaded with to abandon Romney and go support anybody else because the negatives that he's attached to everybody else outweigh whatever his positive attachment to Romney is, or it's pretty close. (interruption) Well, you know, it's always the case, I have to unify the party when it's all over and that's another reason I have to occupy the position here that I occupy. But, you know, it's part of the territory. Look, I appreciate the call. I'm sorry that you got so upset out there, Mark. I just saw that Elton John had to cancel a couple of appearances at Caesars Palace over the weekend for food poisoning. And, Mark, you might want to see if that might not have happened to you.