RUSH: We have this 13-minute interview I did with Scarborough today on his show on PMSNBC. But to understand the beginning of the interview, you have to hear this. They had Erin Burnett on preceding me, ‘the Street Sweetie,’ and she was upset that she was being ‘bigfooted’ by me. This is what she said.
ERIN BURNETT: I do want you to know, since you moved to 30 Rock I’m just patents, you know? I’m getting ‘bigfooted’ by Rush Limbaugh today.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Mmm-hmm.
BURNETT: I like Rush and everything but, you know, I used to be a part of this show and now I just get the boot every day. All right. I’m going to listen in to Rush. I want to hear what he has to say.
RUSH: All right, so they went to a break after that. I was wired up and listening because I gotta get ready for my own interview. So it was time for my interview, and here’s how it went…
BEGIN MSNBC AUDIO
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to Morning Joe, live from 30 Rock. Let’s bring in Rush Limbaugh right now, a guy — you know, we’ve got ‘radio talk show host,’ but this guy actually helped create New Media and certainly helped elect a lot of us in 1994. Rush, thanks so much for being with us.
RUSH: Nice to finally be with you, Joe. Good morning.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, greatly appreciate it. Let’s start by talking about the Republican field. There was a story in the Washington Post this past week that a lot of —
RUSH: Wait a minute. Joe, Joe, Joe, before you go there, I have to say something.
RUSH: I just heard Erin Burnett —
RUSH: — sounding a little wifey worrying about you guys ‘bigfooting’ her.
SCARBOROUGH: (laughs) Yeah.
RUSH: Erin, you said you’re going to be listening.
RUSH: It’s a thrill for me to know that you’re listening to me. I love listening to myself, and it’s great to know that you’re listening to me, too. Nobody can ‘bigfoot’ you, Erin.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. Erin is truly an international superstar.
SCARBOROUGH: Have you had Erin on your show yet?
RUSH: Pardon me?
SCARBOROUGH: Have you had Erin on your show yet?
RUSH: No. You know I don’t have guests. I don’t have time. I’m the expert, Joe. (laughter)
SCARBOROUGH: That’s right. That’s right.
BURNETT: I’ll have Rush on.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, well, you need to get Rush on your show. But, Erin, what do you think about Rush saying you were a little ‘wifey’ today?
BURNETT: ‘Wifey today,’ he said?
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, kind of —
RUSH: Well, you were whining about all these guys ‘bigfooting’ you, and then they invite you to the studio, and you act like, ‘I’m not coming to your studio if you’re going to ‘bigfoot’ me.’
BURNETT: Well, I got ‘bigfooted’ out. That’s what happened, Rush. It’s a long complicated saga.
RUSH: Erin, nobody can ‘bigfoot’ you. You’re too big; nobody can ‘bigfoot’ you.
BURNETT: (laughing) Thanks for believing in me.
RUSH: The truth is that anybody who follows you, Erin, can’t match what you’ve done. So that’s the way you need to look at it.
SCARBOROUGH: That’s big.
BURNETT: Oh, thank you, Rush.
RUSH: You’re welcome.
SCARBOROUGH: That is big. You’re getting that from ‘the’ Mr. Excellence in Broadcasting right there. Erin Burnett is —
BURNETT: You made my day. I’m done now. I’m going home.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah? All right. Very good. You can just quit your job. So, Rush, obviously Erin Burnett has drawn your attention. What do you like about her?
RUSH: I’m sorry, what was that? Who’s drawing my attention?
SCARBOROUGH: Erin Burnett!
RUSH: Oh. Oh.
SCARBOROUGH: You’ve talked about Erin Burnett on your show a good bit before. What do you like about her?
RUSH: She’s fabulous on economics. She understands it, and she’s not afraid to go against the conventional wisdom on economic thought. Fresh voice. It’s great when you stand out against conventional wisdom, and she’s obviously — I mean, I’m not sucking up here. I’m giving you an honest professional assessment. She’s extremely educated and understanding of the economy, which most people aren’t, and I think it’s refreshing for people to be able to hear what she has to say against all the inertia of the conventional wisdom.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, what about this economy? You have the president over the past several years who obviously has been bogged down with the fight in Iraq, but, actually, we’ve had a strong economy, and that’s a message that hasn’t gotten out in the past.
RUSH: Well, the reason it hasn’t gotten out is because we’re in an election year and the Democrats don’t want it to get out, and they have many allies — Joe, as you know in the Drive-By Media — who will do what they can to suppress the good news or to shave it in such a way so it’s not going to have too much political impact. But the truth about the US economy on any given day of the week is that there has never been a country with this prosperity, this level of a standard of living, and the opportunity to improve on it for all citizens each and every day. We are truly blessed. When I make speeches, one of the things I often ask people is, ‘Have you ever wondered why in less than 230 years a population of 300 million people has become the most powerful, the most prosperous, the most affluent society in the history of human civilization?’ The Europeans and others, the Asians, have been around thousands of years longer than we have. Human beings are no different from one continent to the next. We’re all identical. What is it that sets our country apart from all the rest?
There is an answer to this, and I think most people ought to be positive and upbeat about the opportunities that exist in this country. If you’ve traveled internationally, you see real poverty. I did a troop visit to Afghanistan two-and-a-half years ago. We don’t know poverty in this country like it exists around the world. I know things are relative, and there are people here that don’t do nearly as well as others. But they have the opportunity to, if they’re taught high expectations, if they’re taught self-reliance and rugged individualism. Too many people have made them dependent. We’ve got an ever-growing Nanny State. It’s a bit of a concern. I actually think… You asked me about the presidential candidates. I actually think the election in ’08 is not going to be so much about Iraq. I think it’s going to be about the future of the country. I think by the time we get there, nobody is going to be able to saddle the president with defeat in Iraq — probably quite the opposite — and so it will drop off of the radar screen. The future of the country, mark my words, will be what the ’08 presidential race is about.
SCARBOROUGH: Why is Rudy Giuliani doing so well? Here’s a guy that’s 15, 20 points ahead, and yet he’s pro-choice, he supports gun control, he supports gay marriage — not exactly what Republican primary voters have embraced in the past. Why are they embracing Giuliani now?
RUSH: Well, what are his numbers, about 30% against the rest of the field? You know, there’s still a big field, and it’s spread out. I think it’s still early, Joe. I think everybody is all hot-to-trot about this stuff. I don’t think most people are really — I’m talking about most voters — paying that close attention to this stuff. You can look at the ratings that all the debates are getting on television. They might get a million-and-a-half to two million people, but that’s zits! That’s nothing compared to what it’s going to be once we have nominees actually get into the primary voting states. Once that starts, then I think the interest will peak a little bit. But, as you know, the real interest in the ’08 presidential race is not going to happen ’til after Labor Day next year, especially with all these front-loaded primaries. You’re going to have both nominees, perhaps, chosen by February or March. So that’s going to be a tune-out factor. As to Giuliani: I think among the top-tier people, he sounds optimistic. He sounds funny. He sounds upbeat. He sounds casual. He’s quick on his feet. The thing that I think people have to understand is that, even though the Republicans were in the House for all those years, ’95 through last year, 2006, and have had the White House for the last seven, Republicans and conservatives still constantly feel on the defensive, feel like they’re in the minority, feel like the Democrats are able to skunk ’em at every turn. It’s not the case anymore, but you have so many years of experience of having that attitude, that Republicans want to win. They just want to win, and they want somebody to fight back. And I think the key to Rudy is that he has been leading that pack in running against Hillary already. He is really focused on her, and that is energizing the Republican base right now. They want to win more than anything else right now, and that’s what elections are all about.
SCARBOROUGH: Is Mitt Romney a true conservative? Would you be concerned if Romney won the nomination?
RUSH: Well, let me tell you something. This ‘true conservative’ business… Here’s the one thing that concerns me. I’m a Reaganite, a Reagan conservative. Conservatism is like 2 + 2. It equals 4. The one thing about this whole primary that upsets me is that some people are trying to redefine ‘conservatism’ to accommodate some of these candidates or all of them, who don’t necessarily fit the bill. Now, I will end up supporting whoever the nominee is, but I don’t want conservatism to be redefined in the process. So whether or not Rudy has got these things that stray off the so-called conservative reservation, in the end, if he ends up being the nominee, those things, for the most part… I’ve heard the evangelicals are a little concerned here about that, which is going to excite the Drive-By Media. ‘Splits’ in the Republican Party always do. But I find it fascinating, Joe, as I watch these debates and I listen to the analysis afterwards, the focus — among the candidates, in fact, and some of the media — is, ‘Well, who is the real conservative here?’
RUSH: And the Republicans are arguing about it. You don’t hear that on the Democrat side. You don’t hear them say, ‘Well, who’s the real liberal here,’ or, ‘Who’s the real progressive here?’ The argument over ideas, the genuine intellectual debate over ideas, as always is the case, is happening on the right. Right now, the Democrats are simply repeating whatever MoveOn.org, Media Matters, or some of their lunatic fringe in the blogosphere tell them to say because it’s still primary time.
SCARBOROUGH: But you and I both know, though, one of the reasons Republicans are talking ideology, they’re concerned about who the true conservative is — and we’ve talked about this before — it’s because Republicans haven’t been acting like Republicans other than the past four or five years. You look at spending, the pork barrel spending. You look at the miserable job we did in Congress. Of course, people will say, ‘Well, Democrats have done just as badly.’ In fact, there’s a Wall Street Journal column saying as much today. But, you know, Republicans expect Democrats to spend a lot of money. Aren’t we in a difficult situation now because [of] how badly we handled the federal budget and other issues when we were in charge?
RUSH: That is an excellent point. This is why you have a morning show on television.
RUSH: Because everyone thinks the ’06 election was about Iraq and the Democrats getting a mandate to get us out. Had it really been about that, we’d be out of Iraq. If the vast majority of the American people actually threw Republicans out to get out of Iraq, we’d be out. They can’t get us out of Iraq. They don’t even have the votes to defund the war, which means public support for doing that really isn’t there. The problem the Republicans had, Joe, is that you had President Bush in the White House who was the author of that spending. If you’re John Boehner, if you’re Denny Hastert, if you’re the Senate minority leader, majority leader, in many cases you can’t go against your own president. You can’t go against ‘No Child Left Behind.’ You can’t go against letting Ted Kennedy write the education bill. The president sort of hamstrung them on this. But you’re right: The perception of voters is that Republicans in Congress campaigned as conservatives, and got there and failed to govern that way, and then appeared to get a little arrogant with power, which is seductive. You’ve experienced it and seen it, and written about it. So, I think that while there’s plenty of blame to go around for the House Republicans, they’re sort of hamstrung. It was much easier for Newt, for example, to be Newt bouncing off of Clinton.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. Yeah, I mean it’s a lot easier to stand up [to] the president of the other party instead of the president in your own party, and when they start breaking your arms and saying, ‘Pass this education bill that Ted Kennedy co-wrote,’ you don’t have a whole lot of Republicans that are going to stand up.
RUSH: Oh, you can’t stand up. You can’t stand up against the president of your own party. I mean, that’s suicide — especially when you’ve got the Iraq war going on. You just can’t do it. So they were kind of hamstrung.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, the debate the other night, it was interesting that most of the (laughing) Republican candidates spoke more about Hillary Clinton than they did George Bush or the Republican Party. I’m curious. Do you think a Hillary Clinton nomination is the best thing that could happen to the Republican Party, or could this end up being like the Jimmy Carter White House cheering for a Reagan nomination back in 1980?
RUSH: I was speaking about conventional wisdom earlier, and there’s too much conventional wisdom that Hillary is already elected — not just nominated, but already elected. There’s too much conventional wisdom of this inevitability. She’s got 49%, 50% disapproval numbers. That is more polarizing than any presidential candidate that has ever been elected in my lifetime. I’d have to go back to American history to find anybody who was that polarizing a figure that got elected. I think this next year, this campaign, and this election is going to be so full of surprises that nobody will come close to even predicting what’s actually going to happen. Mrs. Clinton, obviously, has the funny fundraising techniques and so forth. You know, what I find most interesting is that the Democrats are not going after her, on her side, in their primary. The Republicans are, because they know that they’re going to end up running against Democrats in November of 2008. So, I don’t think she’s inevitable. I think she can be beat. The idea that she can’t be, is ridiculous.
SCARBOROUGH: So you think it’s possible that we could, uh, have a President Barack Obama?
RUSH: Well, that… No. No, no, no. I think she’s going to get the nomination, because they’re not even opposing her on this. They’re not even contending, in truth. I mean, they’ve got a real problem. You know, despite the advances of feminism in this country, there’s still an axiom: ‘You can’t hit the girl,’ and that’s why Edwards is sending his wife out there, and that’s why Obama is sending his wife out there to criticize her. The Republicans are not sending their wives out to do it. They’re doing it themselves. They’re not trapped by conventional wisdom and the old adages of political correctness. Another thing, Joe: The last senator that was elected president in this country was John Kennedy in 1960. So that’s not the route to go, because senators have these huge egos. They don’t delegate much. They have to know everything that’s going on, and they end up being in too much hands-on control of things. It’s not an executive position like being a governor is, or maybe running a cabinet post or some such thing. There are just too many things that argue against her inevitability here.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. They don’t call it the House of Lords on Capitol Hill for nothing.
RUSH: (laughing) That’s right.
SCARBOROUGH: Rush Limbaugh. Thank you so much. Greatly appreciate you being here.
RUSH: Thank you, Joe. I appreciate it. It’s always nice to speak to you — and thanks for, you know, over the last three years, for your support. I really appreciate it more than you know. Best to you.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much.
RUSH: All right.
SCARBOROUGH: We only support you when you deserve it, when people go after you and it doesn’t seem right — and also I think, most importantly, you’re a big Erin Burnett fan, and that means a lot around here.