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RUSH: All right, Ed Rollins is on the warpath now for his candidate, Mike Huckabee, and he sat down for an interview with CBS News on their — I guess on their website, and here’s the first question: ‘Let’s start with the attacks on Governor Huckabee from a lot of Republican establishment figures lately.’ Republican establishment figures lately? ‘Rush Limbaugh has called him ‘the Huckster.’ Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review has said it would be ‘suicide’ to nominate him. Why do you think, Mr. Rollins, that Governor Huckabee has provoked all of this criticism?’ Ed Rollins: ‘Well, I think first of all he’s not an established candidate. I don’t think anybody anticipated early on when he started to run that he would do as well as he’s doing. Some of these guys have already picked their candidates and I think to a certain extent the alleged wise men have sat around in either their studios or the newsrooms, basically writing magazine articles. They didn’t see it coming, and I think they underestimated him.’ Ladies and gentlemen, and Mr. Rollins, and for those of you in the Huckabee campaign, I want to turn back the hands of time. We’re going to go back to the archives of this program, specifically November the 8th of this year. This is what I said to my audience on that day.

RUSH ARCHIVE: What if Mike Huckabee wins Iowa? What does that do to Mitt Romney and Thompson in New Hampshire and South Carolina, respectively? Secondly, what if Hillary continues to stumble and either Obama or Edwards ends up being the nominee? Now, I know nobody thinks that’s possible, which is precisely why I focus on it. The conventional wisdom is she’s got it wrapped up and the conventional wisdom is that Mrs. Clinton’s got Clinton, Inc., and that Clinton, Inc. can get rid of anybody in her way. But Mrs. Clinton has gotta get out of her own way for 13 months in a row or 12 months in a row in order to stop gaffing. But just think about it. If Hillary continues to stumble, and either Obama or Edwards ends up the nominee, what kind of general election does this lead to? Do you realize the shock? Everybody figures it’s Hillary and Giuliani right now, but what if Huckabee wins Iowa, and what if Hillary loses Iowa?

RUSH: That was November the 8th on this program. Mr. Rollins, who’s now the campaign chieftain for Mike Huckabee, is saying that I am part of the New York or Wall Street-DC axis, the media elite axis, that didn’t see any of this coming. I would maintain, ladies and gentlemen, that if you were listening to this program on November 8th and you heard me say, ‘What if Mike Huckabee wins Iowa?’ you probably thought I was nuts, and you probably thought, ‘What’s he smoking?’ I was the first to bring it to attention. I saw it coming — and I now may be seeing it going, ladies and gentlemen. Now, what I’m reacting to here — and we brought this up yesterday — is there was a post on a blog at the Atlantic magazine’s website. An unidentified Huckabee supporter in Washington said, ”Honestly…Rush doesn’t think for himself. That’s not necessarily a slap because he’s not paid to be a thinker — he’s an entertainer. I can’t remember the last time that he has veered from the talking points from the DC-Manhattan chattering class.” And I thought, as I told you yesterday, ‘What in the world here? Anybody that’s running a Republican candidate or is on the staff of a Republican presidential candidate can’t possibly believe this. Maybe it wasn’t Huckabee or anybody in his staff leaking this. Maybe it was somebody else.

One of the names that I thought of at first, which I have since rejected, was McCain, because McCain’s surging in New Hampshire and needs for Huckabee not to do well there if he wins Iowa. And McCain, you know, he’s gotten mad at me a lot, and he refers to me as ‘an entertainer,’ just an entertainer that nobody should take seriously and nobody does take seriously. But I’ve rejected that. After having read Mr. Rollins’ comments, and we’ve got more audiotape of Ed Rollins, but let’s just review, ladies and gentlemen. By the way, like I said at the beginning of the program: I hate that it has come to this, but this little blurb, it’s in the Atlantic, and now, of course, CBS asking Ed Rollins about it and so forth, these people are coming after me personally, which I have not done on Huckabee. They’re coming after me personally like the libs do. But let’s just go back. There are four or five things here and let’s just see how well I fit into this so-called Wall Street-DC axis. Harriet Miers? The Wall Street-DC axis was all over Harriet Miers and trying to get the president what he wanted. How about the Dubai Ports Deal? I think I was the lone voice in major media saying, ‘Hey, wait a second. It’s not a bad deal. It could be very good.’

How about Republicans’ spending abuse? I’ve been all over them. How about illegal immigration? You talk about the DC-New York axis being all for it — and I was not there. So I don’t know who it is that said this, but whoever they are doesn’t listen to this program, because they also said, ‘I also have to think that he’s dying to have Hillary in the White House. Bill Clinton made Rush a superstar.’ I became a megastar, folks, long before the Clintons got into the White House. I really am uncomfortable with this. I was hoping that it wasn’t going to come to this kind of thing. (interruption) Yeah, I’ve never called Huckabee ‘a huckster.’ I’ve called his fans, his supporters ‘hucksters.’ I’ve not called him a huckster. Of all the people that are out there criticizing Huckabee, it has not been me. I’ve tried to be very judicious throughout this whole Republican primary. The thing is, I saw the Huckabee boom coming before Rollins was even hired to see it coming after the fact. But it doesn’t mean there’s a path that’s cleared to the nomination, either. Now, I remember Ed Rollins after he left Ronald Reagan, he worked for the axis of DC-Manhattan in New Jersey where he was leading the Christie Todd Whitman campaign. If anybody is an elite and part of the DC-New York axis, Ed Rollins should look in the mirror. Christie Todd Whitman, by the way, is of the DC-Manhattan axis.

So Huckabee goes out and hires the DC-Manhattan axis campaign manager, who then starts ripping people like me for being part of the DC-Manhattan axis! I’m part of the Cape Girardeau-middle America axis. I grew up in Missouri! I think Rollins and his candidate need to stick to the issues. They need to stick to the record. They need to stop with this Clintonesque spinning that they’re doing out there. You know, McCain’s starting to look better to me than this guy — and that’s saying something! More I see what Huckster’s — Huckabee’s (laughs) record was in Arkansas, there’s a lot of liberalism in there. There certainly isn’t a lot of Reaganism in there, and I think that the Huckabee campaign is trying to dumb down conservatism to comport with his record, and now they focus on me, challenging me on a personal level here like the libs do. I told you the other day, we had a caller that wanted to know what I thought of the Huckabee campaign. I said, ‘Look, I see a lot of Perot here in terms of the support that Huckabee has,’ and I remember back in 1992, I did everything I could. By the way, Ed Rollins worked for Perot, too. But let’s go back. I said something I learned during the Perot campaign. I tried to warn people every day: ‘This guy is not who you think. He’s not really serious about this. There’s a vendetta or a something that’s driving this, but he’s not who you think he is. There’s something about this that’s not right.’

But I couldn’t talk ’em out of it because he was an outsider, and he was saying all these pithy little things, and he really got on a wavelength with people. It got so bad that my program partners tried to finally get me to stop talking about it because they thought I was driving the audience away. They said, ‘You need to think about supporting Perot because that’s your audience.’ I said, ‘I cannot do that!’ But they were really worried the ratings were going to plunge. The ratings ended up skyrocketing during this. This happened on an airplane coming back from a sales meeting in Atlanta. (interruption) Oh, they were yelling! I know! They were yelling at me every day for not getting it, and, ‘Why aren’t you on board? Why aren’t you leading this movement?’ You know, and it would have been easy. It would have been easy for me to cave; put my finger in the wind, (slurp) moistened and all and see which way the winds were blowing, but I have never done it, and I wasn’t going to start then. What I learned was, you can’t talk cultists out of their cult. You just can’t! When their belief in something has nothing to do with substance or very little to do with understanding, when it’s based on other things, you can’t talk ’em out of it.

So, I see some similarities here in the Huckabee campaign and Perot. You know, Perot, Whitman, Ed Rollins? I guess if you listen to the Huckabee people, Bill Buckley has been read out of the movement by Huckabee as well since he’s lived in Connecticut and he’s worked in New York. Who is this campaign to be defining who is or who is not a conservative? I never heard of Huckabee in an important ideological way before this campaign got going, and believe me, I know who the conservatives are out there. So this elitism they keep talking about… When they’re talking about the New York-DC axis, the codeword there is for ‘elites.’ It’s the elites who want open borders, not middle America. It’s the elites who want higher taxes — and this is Huckabee’s campaign. It’s elites who want to talk to the Iranian regime, not middle America. It’s the elites soft on crime, want to release criminals from prison, not middle America. Look at what Schwarzenegger is doing out there, because of a budget shortfall. If we can choose a candidate… This is my only point, folks. If we can choose a candidate who is pro-life and anti-same-sex marriage and good on national security, illegal immigration, taxes, and spending, why shouldn’t we choose that candidate? Why do we have to choose somebody who’s trying to get a redefinition of conservatism to comport to his views? By the way, this is not just about Huckabee. This has been my lament from the moment this campaign began, if you recall.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Let’s go to the audio sound bites.

RUSH: We’ll start with last night’s Hardball with Chris Matthews on PMSNBC. He was talking to Romney senior advisor Ron Kaufman, and the new Huckabee national campaign chairman Ed Rollins, and Matthews said, ‘Ed, does faith bring you guys together or separate you?’

ROLLINS: Well, first of all, you and I are Catholics and our candidates are different, and, uh, Ron, are you still an atheist, or have you basically converted?

KAUFMAN: (nervous laugh) Okay.

ROLLINS: Now that you’re rich. (laughs)

MATTHEWS: We’ve had a Mark Penn moment on this show already, Ed. We don’t need another one.

ROLLINS: He’s my — He’s my very dear friend.

MATTHEWS: I know, but you just accused him of being an atheist.

RUSH: That’s the Huckabee national campaign chairman Ed Rollins asking if one of Mitt’s guys, Ron Kaufman, is an atheist. So then Matthews says, ‘Relevant to this campaign, is there any religious difference between Romney and Huckabee. Relevant to this campaign, is there a religious difference? Ed Rollins, you know exactly what I’m asking.’

ROLLINS: I know exactly what you’re asking, and I think the bottom line is that the voters themselves will make that decision.

MATTHEWS: Whoa! Whoa! Ron Kaufman, he just dodged on the question of whether there’s a religious difference between the two candidates and what they’re offering in terms of policy!

RUSH: Yeah, he just did. So there’s the latest in the campaigns. You know, the Huckabee campaign is apparently very thin-skinned. There are a lot of stories out there, one of the AP headlines: ‘Huckabee: Woe is Me,’ a couple of others that I have here in the stack. I just want all of you to know: I have nothing against Mike Huckabee personally other than he is for exercise, and I’m not. I don’t know him. But the purpose of a primary is to try to take the measure of a candidate, to try to discern what kind of president he would be to try to cut through all the clutter, determine what kind of record a candidate has and so forth. This is how elections have worked since there have been elections. It’s an important process. The president is very powerful. These are very critical times in our history. If the candidate wants your vote, he has to earn it and convince you why he’s worthy of it.

As you know, as a general and practical rule I do not endorse primary candidates, but I do take a careful look at the candidates and comment on what I think their strengths and weaknesses are, and it appears that in doing so, the Huckabee campaign has taken offense. Maybe Huckabee himself, I don’t know, since the source or sources of comments from his campaign are always unidentified. But there are 20 million of you people out there — probably more today. As you know, I’m a conservative, and I make no excuses for it! I do not try to hide it. There is not one thing about conservatism that embarrasses me. I do not apologize for it. In fact, I celebrate it. I try to promote it, and I believe that individual liberty, national security, homeland security — which would include secure borders — faith, respect for the sanctity of life, the rule of law; I think these are fundamental conservative principles. Belief in the individual to triumph over the odds in life. I didn’t invent these principles. They have been learned over time.

They’re based on human experience. The Declaration of Independence is our founding document, and it makes clear that we as human beings have certain unalienable rights that have been given to us not by man, not by any government, but by God — and within this context, the Constitution sets forth both the powers and the limits of the federal government, the purpose of which is to secure and advance our God-given rights, not to diminish them. This is where I’m coming from and where most of you are coming from in this audience, and we want a candidate for president — and ultimately a president — who shares these fundamental understandings. So when I raise questions about public reports regarding a candidate’s record or position, I’m comparing the record and position with our founding and conservative principles and my own beliefs. It is not personal. When I talk about Huckabee’s illegal alien position, tax increases, the release of hundreds of criminals, the rhetoric about our war effort, it isn’t personal.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Again, when I raise questions about public reports regarding any candidate’s record or position, what I am doing is comparing the record and position with our founding conservative principles. I am a conservative first. I am not a Republican first. It matters. When I raise questions about, say, about Governor Huckabee’s positions on illegal aliens, tax increases, the release of hundreds of criminals via pardon and his rhetoric about our war effort, sorry, I’m trying to develop an understanding of the guy so I can determine for myself whether he is in fact the kind of conservative you and me want as our president. I’ve not ‘attacked’ him. I have studiously avoided it. But I’ve raised questions — and, of course, in this climate, questions will be considered an attack, but I’m going to keep asking the questions if I believe it’s warranted to do so. Yet the mere fact that I have commented on his record appears to have caused great anguish in his campaign. They accuse me (and apparently others, too), who are going through this process of being part of the DC-Manhattan axis. Last time I checked, I was born and raised in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Now, it may not be Arkansas, but it is Middle America.

If the suggestion is that my conservative views reflect the culture and mind-set of most of the liberal cities in our country, then I think Huckabee is having serious difficulty distinguishing between conservatism and liberalism. If he wants to tag me or some of his supporters, whoever said this, want to tag me in the New York-DC axis… You know, the response to inquiries about Huckabee’s record is to accuse whoever asks the questions of being a New York City or Washington, DC, liberal! Name for me a conservative in the New York-DC axis. The New York-DC axis is the Drive-Bys. Now, occasionally you can find some conservative magazine writers on certain issues that might team up now and then, but it’s not where their heads are in an institutional way. So what it suggests to me as a… I’m just an amateur observer out here, folks. I’m just watching it go by as you do. I’m very fortunate. I have a microphone to share with you my analyses and observations. But the fact that any question raised about issues in Governor Huckabee’s governance causes a reaction to say, ‘Well, part of DC-Manhattan axis, you can’t listen to them,’ must mean that these questions represent a sore point for his campaign.

I mean, individuals who have fought immigration for years are not happy with his open borders positions as governor. They’re just not. Anti-tax groups are unhappy with his tax increases when he was governor. Conservatives who helped defeat the Soviet Union under Ronaldus Magnus are troubled by his statements about our war effort and his desire to negotiate with Iran, for instance — and it raised eyebrows among longtime school-choice advocates when the New Hampshire NEA endorsed Huckabee. They endorsed Hillary on the Democrat side; Huckabee on the right. The NEA is not interested in conservatives getting any kind of power anywhere. So it seems to me that it is Huckabee’s record that is well suited for the axis of liberalism that he decries. Huckabee’s record is a better fit for the Wall Street-DC axis that he is criticizing. At a minimum, it deserves scrutiny, doesn’t it? And let me be blunt about this: Since Huckabee has raised it, or his campaign has, how is questioning such a record an ‘attack’ on Christians and evangelicals in particular?

I find that offensive, as if raising questions about such a record is said to be raising questions on somebody’s faith or the faith of an entire community? That’s a deplorable tactic. You people know I oppose abortion. I oppose same-sex marriage. I oppose the left’s war on faith. I oppose the Supreme Court’s effort to ban religion from the public square. I oppose the left’s war on all those things, and I do not take a backseat to Huckabee or anybody else on these issues, and to suggest otherwise is to attack the character of anybody who dares to question your political and policy positions, and that’s what the libs do, because the libs can’t debate the issues. The libs don’t want to debate the issues because they can’t win. I’m getting the sense that Mike Huckabee doesn’t want to debate the issues, and he’s relying on other things as a firewall to keep the issues from coming up. Folks, we have to force a debate on the issues, our issues. That has to happen. Conservatism is what unites a lot of us together, you and me in this audience.

Any candidate who doesn’t want that debate and is trying to dumb down conservatism and attack those who raise questions about that debate, that’s a red flag to me. So I, again, wish that this had not come up. I wish that this didn’t happen. I did not attack Huckabee. I don’t know him. I don’t dislike him. I have nothing personal whatsoever against him. I have not made one comment about his record as governor, other than to ask questions about some of these policies he engaged in as they relate to what kind of president he would be, and if you’re not entitled to ask those questions without somebody in the campaign launching out with some personal BS, then that campaign seems to be a little thin-skinned. So it is what it is, ladies and gentlemen.

Here it is, the Friday before Christmas. I was planning on just a hunky-dory, happy-go-lucky, maybe some Christmas parody stuff in the past, and look! Look at what has happened. It just means that all is right with the world. Joseph in Houston. Let’s start on the phones, Open Line Friday. It’s great to have you, Joseph, and thank you for waiting.

CALLER: No problem, Rush. Hey, I just want to make a brief comment. I was just thinking that we ought to make a distinction between Rollins and Huckabee. I mean we don’t — I mean Rollins could be getting out there trying to say whatever he knows best to say, and give it a couple of days and Huckabee’s liable to be saying, ‘Oh, we didn’t mean anything against Rush,’ and, ‘That was just Rollins,’ and so forth.

RUSH: Well, you can speculate on the future. I can’t. I’m content to let things unfold. But, you know, what made me bring Rollins into this is this DC-New York axis business; he’s represented DC-New York axis clients.

CALLER: No. No doubt. And —

RUSH: This business that he says here, ‘Well, the alleged wise men, they sat in their studios. They didn’t see it coming. I think they underestimated,’ when I was the first guy before Rollins was even on board, to point out that Huckabee was making a move in Iowa, and asked people to consider what it was.

CALLER: Sure.

RUSH: So, you know, why separate ’em? He’s national campaign chair, and Huckabee’s the candidate.

CALLER: Well, yeah, I’m with you. One other thing I just wanted to say, and that is, in terms of all the candidates, I’m not personally a Huckabee supporter, but I can’t see that Huckabee is, just looking at his record, is less conservative than, say, Mitt Romney or, say, Rudy Giuliani or McCain. So in a way, Huckabee —

RUSH: You know, when you’re talking about Rudy and Romney, you can basically cite two things. In Rudy’s case, same-sex marriage and abortion.

CALLER: Yeah.

RUSH: You can cite four or five things about Huckabee —

CALLER: Right. Right.

RUSH: — and Romney, you can say the same thing. You can cite a couple flip-flops on Romney, but there’s more than two deviations in the Huckabee governing record. I’m just asking questions. I am just asking questions, and I ask questions to make myself think and hopefully you, too.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Austin, Texas, is our next stop. This is Paul. Great to have you with us. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Rush.

RUSH: Hi.

CALLER: A very Merry Christmas, happy and prosperous New Year, and mega dittos.

RUSH: Thank you, sir, very much, and the same to you.

CALLER: Thank you. Rush what I was calling about, I’ve got a little different take on this Huckabee criticism of what I see to be your non-endorsement. Huckabee is seeing you as if he can’t have you. I don’t think he wants anyone else to have you, so his criticism by Rollins is serving the purpose to what — discredit the value, the future value of your endorsement when —

RUSH: Okay, now, wait. Did I give the impression that I thought Ed Rollins was the source for this Atlantic magazine blog that totally mischaracterized what I am, because I don’t know who it is. I originally thought it was McCain. If you go back, I was charitable yesterday. I said, ‘I can’t believe anybody in a Republican campaign would say anything like this because it’s not true.’ I’ve been around here 20 years. That’s a liberal complaint. I’m an entertainer. Don’t take me seriously. Clinton’s made me who I am. The only Republican’s ever gotten off on that tangent is McCain. I thought, McCain. So I thought maybe it was a Democrat plant, somebody acting as a quasi- or a phony supporter of Romney, but I never said it was Rollins. My complaint about Rollins was that in his CBS interview, he was talking about all these experts in their studios who didn’t see Huckabee coming, and I did, the first to see it, movement, back on November 7th, or November the 8th. So I want to clarify that.

CALLER: Okay. Well, thanks for clearing that part up. I did not hear yesterday’s show nor the earlier portion of —

RUSH: Well, that’s all right. I have a good memory. I can tell you what happened yesterday, so I just did.

CALLER: Well, we all appreciate your memory.

RUSH: Thank you, sir.

CALLER: Nonetheless, though, it would — it would not surprise me if any of these candidates would try to poison the well with regard to trying to wrestle the mantle of conservatism from you. They keep trying to redefine conservatism themselves, but once they come to realize they can’t do it without you, you know, I think they’re going to try and devalue it.

RUSH: Well, you know, that — I hadn’t ever thought of that, because I don’t — I don’t personalize things like that, and I frankly don’t think of myself every day as the leader of a conservative movement. I don’t, now, I may be, but I don’t walk around with that attitude. That’s not why I’m living my life. Well, maybe —

CALLER: We under —

RUSH: Maybe they do. The point, maybe they look at it that way, and, of course, they think since they’re all trying to redefine conservatism so it comports with their view, their policy views, Republicanism, that they think they have to take me out. But I mean this — the Huckabee campaign is the only campaign that tried, and it was really feeble.

CALLER: Well, I guess who they’re up against is going to look feeble.

RUSH: (laughter.)

CALLER: (laughing.)

RUSH: I love you ya, man.

CALLER: Well, I love you too, Rush.

RUSH: Thanks for the call. I appreciate it.

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