RUSH: We have a lot to talk about today. We’re going to get to the debate, and I know a lot of you probably want to talk about the debate. We will, but the election is 500 days away, folks, and there’s some larger stories out there: what’s happening in Iraq, the Democrats. That’s one of the problems I had with the debate last night was that there’s not enough attacking Democrats in this debate. I know it’s the primaries and so forth. By the way, Fox showed last night how to professionally do a televised debate. It wasn’t like a school Glee Club the way PMSNBC handled their debate. It was really well done. No complaints about it. We’ve got audio sound bites from it as well.
RUSH: We’re not going to get to the audio sound bites in the debate yet, because there are some things I want to say about it. I watched some of it on the way back into New York from Pittsburgh last night. I know that everybody’s got their own opinions about this. I’m going to tell you what I think’s going on. The media — and I love the way the Fox people ran this. There’s a professional way to do a debate, and they did it, but they limited the questioning and the answers in such a way that Republicans ended up attacking Republicans. We’re talking about winning the White House here. I know it’s the primaries and we gotta pick a nominee, but enough of this beating-each-other-up stuff. There’s plenty that the Democrats are doing and saying that’s attackable and Giuliani did hit the Democrats, but I just didn’t hear enough of it, for me. But I think there’s something more important: the way the media covers all this, and I think the way some of you may even watch these debates, it’s more about the game right now than the substance. I’ll give you an example. Giuliani is being praised, getting rave reviews for the way he stood up to the comment made by Ron Paul in which that we need to examine our policies and listen to what the terrorists are saying if we want to understand why they’re attacking us and killing us.
Now, all the other candidates on that stage wanted to respond to Ron Paul, too. They weren’t allowed to. Rudy just got the first shot in. This is not to criticize Rudy, but, folks, how hard is it to sit there and criticize anybody, Republican or Democrat, who essentially says something that most people are going to hear as criticism of the country? So people say, ‘Well, big-time score for Rudy Giuliani!’ I understand how people think of it. That’s more, ‘Let’s analyze the game of this rather than the substance of things.’ The substance is important to me. A lot of people disagree with this, but I think Romney’s getting stronger. He seems to have his positions nailed down. The flip-flopping charge nevertheless seems to take him off step for a second, but he looked like he was in command to me. That’s just my opinion. I’ve formed no conclusions about anything. I’m giving you the game analysis of the debate last night. I think if McCain were pressed as hard as Rudy is being harassed about his non-conservative positions, McCain would be finished by now. But, there are so many of them. There are so many non-conservative positions that McCain has. The action line in the media these days is Rudy and ‘Is he a conservative?’ Rudy’s finally made it plain, ‘I’m not a conservative. I’m a center-right Republican.’ He’s not going to try to play the game that he’s a conservative anymore, ergo, his new position on abortion.
Now, it was obvious to me last night that both Rudy and McCain want the election to be about the war. That’s what they think their strong suits are. I understand that politically. You have to understand, the reason for this is that neither of them are that conservative. But you can sound conservative and tough on the war and maybe overcome some of your lack of conservative credentials by capitalizing on your strength on an issue that many people in the Republican Party and most people, feel very important, and that’s the war on terror and threats to the country. But a president has to it all. A president is going to be doing much more than just managing or leading a war. He has to fight a war. He has to protect our liberties at home from those who threaten them with their big government agenda. Conservatism is still important to me here, folks — not ‘center-right Republicanism,’ but conservatism. When you focus on the war you like that, because you don’t have to be zeroed in on the positions other than the war.
RUSH: Back to the debate. I want to reiterate this point again. Rudy and McCain obviously want the election to be about the war only or primarily, and the reason is that they’re not all that conservative, and to talk about the war will allow that fact to be not as obvious. You have to remember that presidents have to do it all. They have to fight wars and they have to protect our liberties at home from those who threaten them with big government agendas. Now, somehow McCain has managed to claim the mantle of spending cutter, that big government is more about spending. He would massively increase the power of government with his support for Kyoto and his position on global warming. That is a position specifically designed — the whole policy is designed — to grow government and eliminate as much individual liberty as they can in the process. He’s not getting called on any of this stuff. He was opposed to tax cuts, which is our money. Now says he wanted spending cuts as well but we couldn’t get the cuts, so he would have let the government continue to take more and more of our money! All of this is coming out after the fact. But he’s the guy who undermined the effort to kill the Democrat filibuster of judges when Bill Frist was ready to defeat it. Remember the nuclear option? Frist was ready to pull the trigger on the nuclear option, and it was McCain who put together the Gang of 14.
Conservatism is far more than national security. That’s a very important element of it. There’s no question — and, of course, we’ve got McCain-Feingold. McCain-Feingold is the worst assault on free political speech since our founding. We have open borders, and this immigration bill that they’re trying to ramrod through again here is partly his creation. He’s not getting called on any of this stuff yet, and I don’t know that he will. I think he’s highly vulnerable, but he has not been effectively hit. Romney tried a little bit last night, and some people said that McCain’s attack and response was superior to what Romney did, where he said he’s been consistent, and Romney has not been consistent. McCain can be consistent. He’s been consistently wrong on a lot of things, whereas Romney says he’s learned. McCain hasn’t. I’m just sharing the thoughts here with you, folks, in the game manner that — well, actually the substance manner, because I think most people look at this debate, especially the media, as a game. It’s like the horse race. The media is always involved in horse races rather than the substance of things. An analysis of the debate, as I am offering you now, I have not seen. I’ve seen analysis: ‘McCain scored here, and Romney didn’t score there, and Ron Paul blew up over there, and Rudy really hit a home-run.’ Give me substance on this stuff. If they don’t give it to me, I’ll provide it myself. Rudy? How hard was it really to smack down Ron Paul for his statement that everybody perceived to be blaming America for the 9/11 attack? Rudy was first out of the box to attack him, but every other candidate up there wanted to but they wasn’t allowed to. This is being portrayed as the greatest moment of the debate.
The best pull quote of the debate is about John Edwards. Mike Huckabee said, ‘These guys want to spend like John Edwards in a beauty salon,’ or some such thing. That’s being cited as one of the best pull quotes of the night. But, I’ll tell you what I think. If one of these guys would just take over the debate and start attacking Democrats, whatever the questions are, they’d score a lot more points with voters, which I think is the point here. Now, last night, Chris Wallace was more interested in Republicans attacking Republicans, and that’s okay. It got the debate going, and it was far superior to MSNBC, but from a conservative point of view — remember, I’m a conservative, not a ‘center-right Republican’ — the issue today is the left. The issue today is the Democrats, the American left, liberals, et cetera, et cetera, and how our guys are going to deal with them. Are they going to try to appease them? Are they going to try to reach out to them and try to get along? I want to know how they’re going to deal with the left, and I want to know during the primary season. I don’t want to have to wait ’til we get a nominee to find out, because then it might be too late. That’s why all this is too early for me. This is why I keep telling you that I’m not all that revved up about this yet, because the first primary is 500 days away. Do you people understand this? Five hundred days away.
The media, I realize they have a role here. The media don’t want Republicans attacking Democrats yet. As good as the questions were last night, those guys at Fox didn’t want any attacks on Democrats last night. But the Republicans, let’s be honest, are picking somebody who’s going to run against the candidate of the other party and the point is to see who that should be, not who can best slam other Republicans. If you want to get into a contest slamming Republicans, I could win that one hands down. I could also win the contest who’s best slamming Democrats, but I am not running for any office because of the pay cut I’d have to take. Now, the debate was handled professionally, as compared to PMSNBC, and for one big reason. The PMSNBC hosts are partisan libs — Matthews, Olberdork. For all the talk about Fox being one-sided, Brit Hume is former ABC; Chris Wallace is former NBC and CBS, andWendell Goler is a longtime reporter. Chris Matthews, you’ve got Tip O’Neill’s chief of staff and a Jimmy Carter guy. You’ve got Olberdork, who is the puppet of David Brock’s Media Matters little blog, and you got all these sordid other nuts that they put up there as so-called credentialed journalists. I don’t think there was any comparison last night between the MSNBC debate and the Fox debate last night.