RUSH: Let me deal with the latest here involving Governor Huckabee that happened on the break. When we were last together on Friday, December whatever it was, I had finally decided to react to a statement made by an alleged Huckabee campaign advisor in Washington. I don’t even remember the exact words, but it mischaracterized me and this program the way Democrats do: ‘He’s just an entertainer, part of Washington-New York media axis. Whatever the RNC talking points are, that’s what you’ll hear from Limbaugh. We don’t begrudge him. He made a lot of money. He’s a great entertainer, but,’ blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. As you know, this is really strange because this is the kind of thing Democrats have been saying, but no Republican campaign strategerist worth his salt who has been around for 19 years, would have that kind of misunderstanding about what happens on this program, nor would they attempt to pass it off to other Republicans as accurate. So I made comments about this on Friday for the first 45 minutes of the program. When the program ended that day, apparently the Drive-By Media in Iowa sought out Governor Huckabee, and they asked Governor Huckabee, ‘What is this with you and Limbaugh?’
On Monday, December 24th — well, actually this audio sound bite I have is Monday, December 24th. Let me tell you some things before I play the sound bite. On Sunday, already into my veg routine because I gotta leave the next day to Missouri for Christmas. So I’m just watching the football games, I’m monitoring the computer, and I get an e-mail note from a Drive-By blogger — it was I think Jonathan Martin at The Politico — asking me, ‘Okay, the Huck says he’s trying to reach you, but he doesn’t know how to get hold of you,’ which Huckabee did say. ‘I would love to talk to Rush, but I don’t know how to get hold of him. I don’t have his number,’ and he asked the blogger, Jonathan Martin, from The Politico, ‘Do you have Rush’s number?’ Martin didn’t. So he asked me, ‘Do you have a reply?’ So on Sunday afternoon I replied with a press statement to Jonathan Martin at The Politico and also put the following at RushLimbaugh.com, and here’s what I said:
‘I don’t need to speak to Governor Huckabee. I saw his comments…’ talking about how much he respects me and the program and all of that. ‘I saw his comments and accept them as honest, sincere, and genuine. What was somewhat stunning about all this is that NO ONE in the GOP field, including advisors and staff, could possibly misread my 19+ year career the way Gov. Huckabee’s DC supporter did. Whoever said those things was essentially repeating the Democrat mantra of all these years: that I am just an entertainer, not an independent thinker, part of the Wall Street/DC axis. If it was someone on Governor Huckabee’s staff or support team, it was just silly, uninformed and thus curious. Governor Huckabee’s campaign is engaged in identity politics at this moment, so I understand his advisor’s/supporter’s intent to put the focus on me rather than the substance of my commentary. As for the Governor not knowing how to reach me,’ I said, ‘there are people on his Arkansas staff who know full well how to reach me,’ and have known for months how to reach me, and they have not. ‘But that is not necessary to me. We’re not playing in a kindergarten sandbox here. We are all presumably adults.’
So that went up on Sunday afternoon at The Politico and on my website. That night or the next morning, I forget which, I heard from Governor Huckabee in an e-mail via my e-mail address, because they know — I can’t tell you how, but his campaign people in Arkansas know full well — how to reach me. They have access to office phone numbers. They’ve got access to my e-mail address. They’ve got all of that. Governor Huckabee was out saying, ‘I would love to talk to Rush, but I can’t reach him. I don’t know how to reach him.’ He’s asking news people if they have my phone number. Many of the people he asked had my e-mail address, by the way. So he said, ‘Look, the…’ I’m paraphrasing. I don’t have his reply right front of me, but Governor Huckabee said to me, ‘Look, the last thing I want to do is pick a fight with you. What I said is true. I’ve loved your show ever since I first heard it. You’re responsible for much of the success of our party,’ blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and then he said something very curious. He said, ”I can’t respond to what that supporter of mine said because, A: I don’t know who said it, and, B: I don’t know what was said.’
Now, this was three days after, or maybe even four days after what appeared on TheAtlantic.com blog in which the Huckabee advisor had said that I was just an entertainer, not an independent thinker, part of the DC-Washington axis, and he was telling me in his e-mail to me that he could not respond — that he would love to, but he didn’t know what was said and he didn’t know who said it. Now, he might not know who said it, but it was hard for me to believe by four days after the fact he didn’t know what was said. Folks, none of this is personal to me. I’m looking at this in a much different way. How can you not know what was said and yet reach out to me and say I’m sorry? Actually, he didn’t apologize, but he wanted to set the record straight. But to not be able to respond because he didn’t know what was said? Then on Christmas Eve — by the way, I did not reply to Governor Huckabee’s e-mail — I thought long and hard about it, and I’ll tell you why I didn’t reply.
I didn’t reply because I wanted to avoid the possibility that any little phrase that I used in the e-mail — because I’m a polite, nice person — could be taken out of context and waved around the by the governor and somebody on his staff and say, ‘Okay, it’s over. We’ve made peace with Limbaugh,’ when there was no need to make peace, which was my first point. I don’t need to talk to Governor Huckabee. This is not beanbag here. This is the big leagues. I don’t need to talk to him. My feelings are not hurt. I’m not taking any of this personally. So I wanted to avoid any chance the campaign could wave some piece of paper around claiming it was an e-mail from me that he had said, ‘I’ve made peace with Limbaugh. Everything is cool now.’ There was no need to make peace because there was nothing specific here that required peace. That was not my point. I was not demanding that anybody apologize to me. I’m not a child about this kind of stuff. So I did not reply to Governor Huckabee’s letter. I have this sound bite, but I don’t have time to play it before we go to the commercial break because it’s about 20 seconds longer than we have. But it is Governor Huckabee claiming not to have a full-time employee in Washington and asking the press, ‘Who said this? I don’t know who said this about Limbaugh,’ and so forth. So anyway that’s coming up as the program continues to unfold before your very eyes and ears today.
RUSH: When we left off in the previous hour, I mentioned that I had received a note from Governor Huckabee explaining that the last thing he wanted to do was to pick a fight with me, but that he couldn’t respond to what his advisor or whoever said because, A, he didn’t know who it was, and B, he didn’t know what they said — even four days after it was said. I didn’t reply to the e-mail from Governor Huckabee simply because I didn’t want whatever I said to be printed out, waved in the air, and said, ‘Okay, we’ve made peace with Limbaugh,’ because the whole point was not making peace with me. That was not the point. I’ve stayed neutral during all of this, and even as we speak today, I am neutral in all of this in terms of the Republican nominating process as we head into the Hawkeye Cauci and the New Hampshire primary on January 8th next Tuesday. At any rate, Governor Huckabee on Christmas Eve on MSNBC Live, the anchor was Monica Novotny, and she talked to Governor Huckabee. She said, ‘You’ve been involved in this back-and-forth with Rush Limbaugh that’s causing some controversy. The Politico.com is reporting today that Limbaugh’s rejected your offer to meet with him and clear the air. Apparently, one of your supporters nonetheless criticized him as being part of the Northeast chattering elite. Will you try to reach out to him again?’
HUCKABEE: Well, I’ve — I’ve tried to get a message to him. Look, I love Rush Limbaugh. I’m one of his loyal fans since 1992. I think he’s one of the great leaders of the conservative movement. Somebody — and — and apparently it was told to me that somebody in Washington. I don’t have any employees in Washington, so I don’t know who it is that is, uh, supposedly said something. That’s what I’d like to find out, who said something, and what was it they said? It wasn’t me and it wasn’t someone in my immediate campaign staff, because I would know about that, and believe me we’re all scratching our heads saying, ‘Gee, we don’t have anybody that is in our employ as a full-time staff person in Washington.’ So I — I’m at a loss to explain who it is and what they said.
RUSH: There it is again. You’re going to have to forgive me, folks. This is Christmas Eve, December 24th. It was whatever the date, the Thursday before Christmas, that all this was said. So it was five days, and Governor Huckabee still claimed he didn’t know what was said. By the way, I want to stress again: I don’t take any of this personally. It’s not the point. I’m looking at this through a much different prism. How can you not know what was said, by anybody about anything, five days after the fact? I mean, if you have curiosity, at least, you find out at least what was said so that you could disavow that. But to say that I don’t know who said it and I don’t know what was said so I can’t respond, is a bit curious to me. On December 26th, the day after Christmas, this continued to roil on Fox & Friends. Steve Doocy, and the Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes, and Mort Kondracke talked about all of this. Doocy said, ‘Look, is this a big deal, Mort, that there’s something going on between Huck and Rush?’
KONDRACKE: Well, this all comes under the category of ‘slights on the right,’ uh, and took only a slight slight as a matter of fact on the part of some unnamed person, uh, who was identified on a blog as a prominent Huckabee supporter in Washington who said what you, uh, quoted as saying —
KONDRACKE: — and also said that Bill Clinton made Rush Limbaugh and that the Clinton — Rush is hoping that Hillary gets elected so that he can be the voice of the opposition da-da-da-da. So that was it.
KONDRACKE: So then Rush decided to unload on him, and his massive ego was bruised, obviously, by this little prick, and so he unloaded on Huckabee and it’s been going on ever since, and now Huckabee is pleading for mercy, and Rush ain’t giving it to him.
RUSH: (laughing) Massive ego, from this little prick from Huckabee. (laughter) Then Kondracke weighed in. Fox News Channel’s Special Report, December 26th, Bret Baier follows up, and explain what this is all about, Mort.
KONDRACKE: Somebody told a — a blogger for, uh, Atlantic Monthly that — that it was a Huckabee person ostensibly said that — that Rush Limbaugh is a DC-New York entertainer and, you know, not to be taken seriously. And this, of course, this — this set Rush off in a tizzy against the whole Huckabee campaign. Now, I think Limbaugh probably doesn’t like Huckabee because Huckabee’s got some, you know, moderate tendencies on taxes and spending, and that sort of thing. In fact, Limbaugh accused Huckabee of hiding behind his — his, uh, evangelical faith, uh, a lot of liberal positions. And so that’s — that’s where they stand. So this has been going on but it stopped because Limbaugh I guess is off the air for the rest of the holidays.
RUSH: I guess when he said, ‘Limbaugh accused Huckabee of hiding behind his evangelical faith, a lot of liberal positions,’ that’s how Kondracke there would explain identity politics. At any rate, it then continued on December 26th. On Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy said this about me to Fred Barnes.
DOOCY: Fred, you know, nobody’s bigger than Rush Limbaugh. You don’t want him against you.
BARNES: Absolutely not. I mean this is trouble for Huckabee. You’re trying to get conservative votes; you’re running for the Republican nomination. Don’t tick off Rush Limbaugh! I mean that’s just crazy. The audience that Huckabee is trying to appeal to — which is not elite Republicans; it’s grassroots Republicans, it’s middle class; it’s not the country club types; it’s middle class, lower-middle class in Iowa — that is Rush Limbaugh’s audience. If I were Mike Huckabee, I’d be on the phone this morning. I wouldn’t say as Huckabee has, ‘Well, I hope Rush calls me.’ I’d call him!
RUSH: That a good point. Huckabee’s original statement was: ‘ I hope Rush calls me because I don’t have his number. I don’t know how to reach him.’ That’s why in my press statement I said, ‘They know how to reach me. His Arkansas staff people know full well,’ and eventually Governor Huckabee did. Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke continue to talk about this.
BARNES: Huckabee has taken some hits. When Rush Limbaugh is zinging you, that can hurt because his particular audience, Limbaugh’s, is not the Wall Street Republicans; it’s not the country club Republicans; it’s the more rural and Main Street Republicans who are the people Huckabee is really going for.
KONDRACKE: The Limbaugh fight hurts Huckabee in Iowa and helps Romney.
RUSH: Now, this business of these people categorizing and characterizing you in the audience, I find it interesting. They’re for the most part right when they say it is not the country club Republicans, it’s the more rural and Main Street Republicans, meaning it’s middle America, but our audience in New York is huge, and in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The audience of this program, I know it can be characterized by geography; it can’t be characterized by education; it can’t be characterized by income. This audience reaches all spectrums. The one thing that you can say about this audience is that it is not comprised of the New York elite blue-blood country club Republicans. Now, I’ve told you all this story a couple times, and it dates back to the early nineties, back in the day where I accepted invitations. One of the invitations was to a cocktail party out in The Hamptons in the early summer — and I shan’t mention any names. That’s not the point. Just believe me when I tell you that the people that were there were the classic New York moderate-to-liberal Republicans, who, as it turned out, sort of hit on me because they were embarrassed to be in the same party as the Christian right.
I remember at dinner nothing really specific came up, but after dinner we’re all gathered out there on the deck, and a couple of guys came out to me and poked a finger to my chest and said, ‘What are you going to do about those Christians in the South? They’re your audience, and they’re killing the party.’ I was a little taken aback. I looked at this guy, who’s a multibillionaire, and I said, ‘You know, many of them are probably your customers, even though you may not know it.’ But I said, ‘If it weren’t for them, your party wouldn’t be in power.’ These are the same people, by the way, that really didn’t like Ronald Reagan. They didn’t like Reagan because they thought he was a bumpkin and a hayseed, and he was conservative and all of this. I said to these guys, ‘You know what? You really wouldn’t be in the majority right now if it weren’t for these people you claim to despise.’ What it really boiled down to was not so much that these guys that were talking to me cared. It’s that their wives were nagging them and getting on them about abortion, that they were just embarrassed to be in a party that was identified as pro-lifers because that was, of course, not the elite, erudite position. So when you get nagged by somebody, you go to somebody you think can fix it. So they wanted me to fix this. (laughs) So these guys are pretty much accurate in the way they characterized the audience, but they’re missing the boat in doing so geographically and in terms of income level or education or any of that, and I just wanted to make that clear because if anybody understands who you are and who comprises this audience, it is I, the host of the program.
Let’s go to Live Desk on the Fox News Channel, Jamie Colby was the host talking to criminal defense attorney Gary Casimir — a criminal defense attorney! — and she said to him, ‘What does Huckabee need to do? What should Rush do, or has Rush said his piece and that’s it?’
CASIMIR: I think making Rush Limbaugh mad is a baaad, baaad mistake. I don’t think Rush Limbaugh is going to — I don’t think Rush Limbaugh liked Huckabee that much to begin with, and now you’ve given him an avenue. He’s got access to so many people. I remember Rush was interviewed early on during the campaign, and he said, you know, a nice base (sic–race) would be a — a — a contest against Hillary and somebody else, and he can really get his base out and really get the vote out for the Republicans if that happened. And now he’s spending time destroying Huckabee’s campaign, and I’m telling you, it could be very effective.
RUSH: Uhhh… (sigh)Well, this is what they all think, the purpose is not to destroy anybody’s campaign here. The purpose is simply to arm people with information. I have not taken sides in this, contrary to what people might believe. But what is this getting ‘my base’ out? My base, as though I’m running? There’s no question that these liberal Democrats think they’re running against me. The Clintons think they’re running against me. Obama thinks he’s running against me! Obama is out there saying he’ll never be able to reach me, meaning he’ll never be able to get my vote. I’m not even a candidate! Okay one more bite on this. Well, actually there’s more. There’s two more. Let’s just go ahead and get to them. Let’s go to the same show, Fox News Channel Live Desk, and Jamie Colby talking to former Clinton advisor Suzan Johnson Cook and former prosecutor Jeanine Pirro. Colby said, ‘Suzan, this is really your expertise. Are the Democrats going to talk about this?’
COOK: They’re talking about it right now, but I think the question is, is this the kind of man you want for your president? I mean Hillary has been attacked from every standpoint, but she took the, you know, the stand, these are my issues, this is what I stand on. I’m not going to cry.
COOKP: I’m not going to wimp out. I don’t want to love Limbow (sic) I mean he’s whining. He’s wimping out. What does he stand for?
COLBY: You say ‘toughen up.’
COOK: Toughen up! You, if you want to be president of the United States, I want you to be my leader, not a whiner.
RUSH: Is she talking about me? At any rate, I’m not going to try to analyze it. It doesn’t make any sense. Face the Nation on Sunday, Bob Schieffer with the editor-in-chief of The Politico, John Harris, and Schieffer says, ‘…and on the Republican side?’
HARRIS: Huckabee, the story of Democrat December was his surge. He went into first place. Romney clearly according to the polls has fought back, and really hit hard with negative advertising, which does work. Huckabee has also had to basically withstand a real assault by what I think is sort of the conservative establishment, a lot of very influential commentators: George Will, Rich Lowry of the National Review, and Rush Limbaugh had been hitting Huckabee hard saying: Look, this is not our breed of conservative. I think that’s had an effect, so it’s a real toss-up, Romney versus Huckabee.
RUSH: Okay, I’ve gotta take a break because of the constraints of the programming format.