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Cracks in the Establishment as Republicans Whisper About an Open Convention

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I need to issue a warning.  If you were not here yesterday, you missed one of the most volatile phone calls that we've had in a while on the program. It was from a listener, a supporter, a man who professed throughout the call that he loved me, been listening a long time, but yesterday he hated me.  Well, that may be a bit of a stretch, but he was really, really ticked off.  And it was all because I simply read the first two of the 59 points of Mitt Romney's economic plan.  I was quoting from a piece, a blog post by a guy named Ben Domenech, and all hell broke loose. 

So I need to issue a little warning.  There is a lot of Rick Santorum news today.  There's not much Mitt Romney news.  We talk about what's in the news, so there will be a bit of discussion about Santorum today, and I don't want any of you to think that it means anything in terms of where I am.  No, no, no.  I'm not being defensive.  I'm just giving everybody a warning.  I'm telling you there are people who are losing close friends over this primary race.  It's volatile, it is causing friction between a lot of people who have a lot of affection for each other.  Even me, my friends, your host is not immune to this.  It's even happening to me.  As such, I just want to give you a little warning.  There's gonna be Santorum news.  (interruption) I'm not worried about that.  Obama is gonna unify everybody.  That's what's gonna happen here.  This is not something to be worried about.  That's so far down the road, that doesn't bother me at all, the lack of unity or will there be any. 

You know, by the way, there's some Ron Paul news that you "Paul-bots," you're not gonna be happy to hear, but I'm duly duty-bound to mention it, and that's gonna happen on the program today.  We have a great list of audio sound bites.  We have ten that I didn't get to from yesterday that I asked Cookie to hold over.  So I've got those. 

PBS is doing a multipart series on presidents Clinton and Kennedy.  We have some audio sound bites from the first episode of the Clinton biopic, documentary, whatever, last night.  (interruption) Well, no, it's really about, because both of their dalliances with women, one in the mob in the case of Kennedy, and Clinton with the interns, this documentary in part, part two is tonight, focuses on how vulnerable these guys made the country.  They subjected themselves to blackmail.  The piece points out that neither guy could pass his own administration's security clearance.  PBS.  I kid you not.  PBS is doing this. 

We got the continuing whisper campaign in the heart, in the bowels of the Republican establishment.  In fact, I have a piece here from CNN:  "Some Republicans Whisper About a Plan B."  This is nothing you haven't heard.  It's just another day of it.  This one's from Mesa, Arizona.  "In a whispering campaign not ready to go public, some senior Republicans are so anxious about the state of the GOP race they are actually considering the unheard of: a scenario that would lead to another candidate entering the Republican primary race, and potentially an open convention. They are not unhappy enough, however, to go on the record calling for another candidate to enter the fray."  They are whispering it amongst themselves and to their friends in the State-Controlled Media. 

According to CNN: "In fact, when pressed, many Republicans say the chatter about another candidate is inevitable in this long and inconclusive primary process. They also say it’s just not likely to happen."  Well, that's just it.  Stop and think of this for a moment since it's a whisper campaign.  The establishment is saying, "Hey, Santorum, screw you.  Hey, Newt, screw you.  Hey, Paul, screw you."  That's what they're saying.  They're saying, "Mitt, Mitt, we love you.  What happened?"  And now, if they go to an open convention, they're basically gonna be saying -- what do you think Santorum and Newt are gonna do?  You think they're just gonna lie down and let the establishment run an open convention and pretend these guys don't even exist? 

For those of you who are intrigued by the concept of an open convention, I understand that, but who do you think is gonna run it?  The Tea Party isn't gonna run it.  He-he.  It would be fun. They're gonna try, no doubt.  They would try, but the same Republican establishment that's gotten the party in this mess is the same bunch of people who would run the open convention.  And, by the way, there are cracks in the establishment.  That's right.  I have two audio sound bites today from members of the Republican establishment who are also whispering.  "Psst, psst, psst, do you know what? Santorum could actually win all of this."  Yes, one's Ed Gillespie.  The other is Ari Fleischer, and they are whispering.  "Hey, Santorum could actually win, you know, he's not that bad." 

So there's all kinds of things happening below the surface, all kinds of things above the surface.  The regime continues to flounder.  Their approval numbers continue to fall.  Obama is out.  He has said one of the most amazing quotes.  It's nothing he really hasn't said before, but the way he put it all together in this paragraph about the American dream and what the middle class in this country wants, it is so indicative, so illustrative of just how limited a scope Barack Obama, as president of the United States, has for people and their ability to achieve in this country.  The bar is so low in his mind, for what you need and want to be happy.  Wait 'til you hear it. 

So we got, folks, lots of stuff today.  There are cracks in the establishment.  You might say chinks in the armor.  A dent!  Oh, it's a good thing I don't work at ESPN.  Dent in the armor out there.  Now, the primaries, let's go back to this brokered convention business, or this managed convention.  The primaries were invented to take the power away from the party elites who used to pick the nominee at the convention.  When was the last time it happened, Snerdley?  When was the last time there was one of these conventions where the nominee was chosen on the Republican side?  Wrongo, dude.  But I know you got a bad sciatica nerve out there and you've got an excuse for being wrong.  It was 1976.  It was in Kansas City at the Kemper Arena. It was Reagan and Ford.  That was managed.  That was a convention where the nominee was chosen at the convention. 

I lived in Kansas City at the time.  I have so many memories.  Nelson Rockefeller came to town and of course he had to do the obligatory thing, tour the art museums.  He went to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the media is in tow, and he stands there, he's pointing at some painting.  And then he had to go find the finest restaurants in town, and they showed him drunk, practically on the floor of the convention one night with the New York delegation all out of whack because the Rockefeller Republicans were on the verge of taking it on the chin with Reagan. It turned out Ford ended up winning things, but I also remember on the last night of that convention,
Reagan stayed at what was the Alameda Plaza Hotel, Country Club Plaza, just a fabulous, fabulous place.  And the orchestra, the music for the convention was provided by a guy I think his name was Benny Benack.  I was watching ABC's coverage. 

David Brinkley was there. I think it was ABC in ’76. Yeah, it would have been ABC in '76, and one night -- it might have been the last night -- the convention was almost out of control and they had Benny Benack playing music trying to soothe everybody, trying to get everybody calmed down and ready to move forward. (laughing) And I remember Brinkley was one of the driest wits I ever saw. He was just hilarious. Marion Barry was delivering a speech '84 convention San Francisco. And he's ranting and raving as the mayor of Washington. He’s just going on and on and on. He sounds... You can't understand what he's saying, except, “Tonight, tonight we on the inside!”

And Brinkley said, "And that is my mayor." That's all he had to say to tell you what he thought. Anyway, Benny Benack is playing the music at the Republican convention trying to calm everybody down and Brinkley said, "It's not that Benny Benack's repertoire is so limited. It's that the delegates [laughing] don't seem to be able to be controlled here." Every time Brinkley opened his mouth, I laughed. It’s like Rick Perry. Rick Perry makes me laugh. When he stands up and smiles he makes me laugh. So we've set the table. There's gonna be a lot of Santorum news. Right now there's not a whole lot of Romney news. There's not a whole lot of Gingrich news but there is some: “Mitt should get out of the race if he loses Michigan.” That's what Newt thinks.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I mentioned there was a couple of cracks in the establishment where Santorum's concerned. Here are the bites. Last night on CNN at Anderson Cooper 360 he spoke with Ari Fleischer, former Bush 43 press secretary, about the Republican primary and Santorum. Anderson Cooper said, Ari, “Do you think he should just get back to focusing on economic issues and leave all these social and cultural things behind?”

FLEISCHER: I think for the first time today in this race that Rick Santorum has a very decent chance of beating Mitt Romney for the nomination.

RUSH: (Gasp!)

FLEISCHER: Two things happened over the weekend that have been building since his three-state win. One is that the conservative angst with Mitt Romney is really coming to a head. People are really saying, “We don't want to support Mitt Romney. Is there finally somebody else to go to?” And Rick Santorum has really now energized the social wing of the Republican Party, which is a very powerful and vociferous part of the party. A little bit different from the Tea Party part where Rick Santorum's gotta get back to, but in the process of the conservative collapse in Romney, with the social movement toward Rick Santorum, he really has propelled himself forward into this primary contest.

RUSH: Yes, he has, and as such the long knives are coming out. They've gone back now to a speech that Santorum gave back in 2008 in which he said Satan had set his sights on America and other institutions in America. That's highlighted on Drudge. It's all over the place. We got the audio sound bites of the speech coming up. So he's now the new kid on the block, the fresh face. Some might even say Santorum's the new front-runner. So here come the long knives from everybody, and opposition research is going back in his past and dredging up anything they can find, everything that he said. And he knows full well what's in store for him. In fact, there was a really good piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Might be published today. It's by Bill McGurn. It is titled, "Sex, Lies and Rick Santorum,” and it's an advice piece for Santorum on what to do. And it really is good.

I'm gonna share with you elements of it, excerpts of it in just a moment. Ed Gillespie, by the way, said similar thing that you just heard Ari Fleischer say. Ed Gillespie said over the weekend that: Hey, you know, Santorum could win this. It's clear that there is, in the Republican base, a significant not-Romney segment and it's shifted from... Well, Newt had it for a while, Bachmann had it for a while, Rick Perry flirted with it. Others in the primary process have had it. And now it's Santorum. And Gillespie said it. Here is Mike DeWine. Mike DeWine is Ohio's attorney general. He was on MSNBC last night speaking with Lawrence O'Donnell about his switching his endorsement from Romney to Santorum. And Lawrence O'Donnell said, "You did something I've never seen before: Jumping from an endorsement of Mitt Romney before the candidate has dropped out."

DEWINE: I was a Romney delegate and I guess I bought into the conventional wisdom and -- and -- and felt it back in October when I endorsed Romney, and actually became a Romney delegate -- that he was the best candidate to beat, uh, Barack Obama, to beat the president. We run campaigns for a reason and we learn a lot of things. What I'm seeing in Ohio and what I was seeing is that the Romney campaign was going nowhere. Uh, it didn't get any better from day one until last weekend. Uh, it’s still’s not getting any better. Uh, there's no excitement. And the excitement that we're seeing in Ohio, at least, uhhh, is in regard to the Rick Santorum.

RUSH: Folks, something is happening out there. A former United States Senator Mike DeWine and the Ohio attorney general, and he was deep in the bag for Romney? Those are incredible statements that you just heard. No excitement? Romney campaign going nowhere, didn't get any better from day one until last weekend, still not getting any better. No excitement. The excitement that we're seeing in Ohio is in regard to the Santorum. Now, it could well be that there are things going on that we don't know. Maybe Romney and DeWine had some kind of a personal falling out. I don't know. But this is very rare.

I wouldn't say it's unprecedented, of course, but this is very rare for something like this to happen. And particularly after all of these high profile endorsements of Romney. He had Chris Christie; Donald Trump; Nikki Haley, the governor South Carolina. None of it has seemed to matter. None of it seemed to help, and all these endorsements are coming from establishment Republicans or having that much influence in terms of the voting preference of the Republican base. It's fascinating. That statement that DeWine made, you couple that with Gillespie over the weekend and Ari Fleischer, and all three of these guys would fairly be categorized as in the Republican establishment.

All this talk of a brokered, managed convention, all the whispers, pretty sure it's gonna be shouts. And pretty soon these anonymous voices talking to the media about brokered or managed convention are gonna start speaking out loud and they're going to be quoted. Their names will become known as the panic increases. And, believe me, there is abject panic in the Republican establishment. To try to understand it, understand that they hoped that this nomination would effectively be over before the first Hawkeye Caucis took place. They thought the polling, the money would be such that Romney would simply not be beatable -- and certainly after the Hawkeye Cauci and the New Hampshire primary, those two would have been the final nails in the coffin and it would be over.

They desperately wanted an early conclusion for a host of reasons, among them they wouldn't have to spend a lot of money during a protracted primary -- and for another reason. It was political. And this is also worthy of note. The standard formula for winning a nomination in the presidency is, in the primaries (as you know), you campaign exclusively to win the base voter of your party. And then after you've done that, and you win the nomination, then you move to the center, where you try to add undecideds and independents to the people in the base that have supported you. And in so doing, you create a majority and you win. The Republican establishment tried something unprecedented. That may be a bit of a stretch, too. I don't know that it's unprecedented, but in my lifetime I haven't seen it. The Republican establishment attempted to win the nomination for Mitt Romney from the start by securing moderates. They welcomed as many conservatives into the Republican presidential primary as possible.

They wanted to split the conservative vote.  The more the merrier. Nine or ten of them, that's fine, versus Romney.  So here's Romney as the conservative moderate, that's what they hoped to portray, and the other conservatives would split the votes of the base, and in the process secure the nomination for Romney.  But it didn't pan out that way, as we all know.  Romney wasn't able to take advantage of the conservative vote being split, because it was.  What happened was that a new non-Mitt seemed to show up or arise every week or two, and it became clear that the establishment's formula was not only not gonna work, it became clear that Republican voters were sending a message to the Republican establishment:  "Not this time." 

So the Republican establishment is sitting there with this grand plan, with this brilliant strategy, and imagine how they're feeling today and how they're thinking.  These are the wizards of smart.  These are the people with all the experience.  These are the people with all the power.  These are the people that have the ability to marshal all of these disparate forces and have them coalesce and combine, and it didn't happen.  Their preferred candidate hasn't been able to, as of yet, close the deal even with the conservative vote being split so many ways in the primaries.  So now the whispers of a brokered or managed convention, and an unnamed Republican senator suggesting that we gotta pick somebody brand-new.  'Cause everybody knows that Newt and Santorum and Paul and Perry and Bachmann, what a collection of losers. We can't win anything with those people, for crying out loud. 

So we can't have any of them, and now Mitt can't seem to pull it off. We can't close the deal for Mitt, so we gotta go get somebody new, and the two top names are Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush.  And Mitch Daniels is saying every time he gets a knock on the door or a phone call, "No, I'm not interested. I never was interested," is what he's saying.  Jeb Bush is saying much the same thing, although a couple things changed.  Jeb Bush might actually be willing to get into this.  But I don't think they're gonna change in time for a decision that he could make to get into this this time around.  His public posture is, "I don't want any part of it, no, no, no, it's not my time," as is the case with Paul Ryan, anybody else. 

So now there's abject panic.  The Republican establishment has, in effect, for the past year, in its own way, governed against the will of its own voters. And they find themselves where they are today trying to figure out how to save their own bacon by having a convention that simply ignores everything that's happened so far in the primaries.  Well, you know that Santorum and Newt and Ron Paul and the rest aren't gonna just sit idly by and let this happen.  There's polling data on this.  USA Today has gone out and asked Republicans what they think about a brokered or open convention, and here's their report. 

"While most Republicans wish they had different choices in the party’s presidential field, a nationwide USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds overwhelming resistance to the idea of an old-styled brokered convention that would pick some new contender as the nominee.  By 66%-29%, the Republicans and Republican-leaning independents surveyed say it would be better if one of the four candidates now running managed to secure enough delegates to clinch the nomination. Most are happy to see their roller-coaster campaign continue: 57% say the battle isn’t hurting the party."  And I'm here to tell you it isn't. 

Let it play out.  This is all good.  Mike DeWine was right.  There's a reason why you have campaigns.  There is a reason for this.  Let it all play out.  Everything's gonna be fine, because at the end of the day this campaign, whoever runs it, is going to be aimed right at Barack Obama.  And that's gonna be the animating feature for the vast majority of people that vote in this coming election.

END TRANSCRIPT

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