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RUSH: Let’s start with the Republicans here because the Democrats don’t have a primary that counts until a week from tomorrow, and the Republicans have the Florida primary tomorrow, and the Rasmussen poll right now has the lead for Mitt Romney 33% of the vote, McCain at 27%. This poll was conducted Saturday afternoon before the endorsement of our governor here, Charlie Crist, who announced his endorsement for McCain. What are you shaking your head for in there? For those of you that don’t know, Charlie Crist ran as a conservative and has ended up governing not very much like one. If you look at a list of other endorsements that McCain is getting, Howard Baker, let’s see, who else does he have out there? It’s a bunch of country clubbers. It’s a bunch of blue-blood country club Republicans who are endorsing Senator McCain, and I have dubbed them the Jurassic Park vote. There’s an argument, even in the Drive-By Media over the weekend, who’s the Republican establishment, me or McCain? I’m not running! I am not on a ballot. But I’ll tell you, if anybody is the Republican establishment, it would be Senator McCain in the sense of the old-time country club blue-blood establishment. I know I’m the conservative establishment, and that’s why they’re asking.

By the way, Mort Kondracke said on the Beltway Boys on Saturday that if McCain wins, it means I lose. Well, how come the New York Times is not credited for losing? They endorsed Mrs. Clinton, and what happened? Barry Obama wins big in South Carolina. Now, I know they were endorsing full-fledged presidential nominees, but you notice when their endorsements happen and they never get what they want, nobody says, ‘Wow, the New York Times lost.’ But they are so eager to proclaim that I did. By the way, I understand, and I have this on good authority, ladies and gentlemen, Ted Kennedy was really torn over his endorsement. He made the decision to abandon the Clintons, and he called Clinton and said so. He called Clinton and said, (paraphrasing) ‘Look, I don’t like this politics of personal destruction that you’re running. I don’t like the way you’re injecting race into this. I just don’t like any of it,’ and Clinton tried to talk him out of it, didn’t work. Clinton was trying to talk him into staying neutral. So after Ted Kennedy decided he wasn’t going to endorse Hillary, then it was down to two people. It was down to Obama or Senator McCain that Senator Kennedy was thinking about. I guess he decided to stay loyal to the party, because he figures with the ideology he can get both with the Obama endorsement.

So anyway, Saturday afternoon it got desperate here in Florida for the Senator McCain campaign. It’s been written about all weekend. I don’t know if you have been following it, but Kathryn Lopez at National Review Online has the best summary of this: ‘On Saturday afternoon, the McCain campaign issued the following statement: ‘Mitt Romney’s position on the war in Iraq has been a study in flexibility. Like every other issue of importance in this race, Mitt Romney has changed his position. On April 3, 2007, he advocated secret timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. His exact words were ‘of course you have to work together to create timetables and milestones.’ In October 2007, Romney said that Hillary Clinton, who supports Iraq withdrawal, is ‘not going to be demanding a dramatically different course in Iraq than the Republican nominee will.’ These statements, along with Romney’s inability to stick with a consistent position, provide further evidence that he lacks the critical experience and judgment necessary to lead as commander in chief.”

Now, this was totally dishonest. This attack by Senator McCain just wasn’t true. Romney has never advocated timetables. The New York Times labeled this as untrue. The AP leveled it as untrue. Senator McCain had to change the subject because I think they got some bad polling data to indicate that they had to change the subject. But this really roiled a lot of people over the weekend. This was just blatant, this was just an out-and-out lie, and many people thought that the McCain camp thought they would get away with it because of their love and slavish devotion of the Drive-By Media. But it didn’t work. He didn’t get away with it. It remains to be seen what impact it will have on primary voters in Florida tomorrow. My friend Andrew McCarthy had the funniest take on this. I so wanted to steal this as my own, but I have ethics, and I think when people come up with great stuff, they deserve the credit for it. Andrew McCarthy, on Saturday afternoon in the midst of all of this, said, ‘I’m starting to think Senator McCain should not be allowed to mention the other candidates’ names within 30 days before a primary.’

He levels an allegation about Romney that’s just flat not true, and if some organization wanted to run an ad calling him on it they’d be in violation of McCain’s reform of campaign finance regulations. What a racket McCain is running. Is that not brilliant? And it’s absolutely right. McCain comes out with this lie about Romney in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, and there’s no way a Romney camp or group can run an ad on television here in Florida refuting it because you can’t do that 30 days before a primary under McCain-Feingold’s restrictions on free speech, but the candidates can go out there and say what they want. So Romney had to do the replying himself. He put a video up, and they were quick getting it out, but McCarthy’s point is right on the money. It’s hilarious. Hey, Senator McCain, you can’t say anything about any candidate within 30 days before the election. McCain-Feingold ought to extend to the candidates, too, don’t you think?

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Let’s start here on Meet the Press. Tim Russert yesterday said, ‘This is what you said in a statement yesterday about Governor Romney. ‘The fact is, Governor Romney has hedged, equivocated, ducked, and reversed himself.’ What are you talking about here?’

MCCAIN: Whether we should have, uh, maintained the surge in Iraq and whether at the April of — of 2007, when we had a choice between doing a surge, when things were at their lowest, when Republicans and the Democrats were saying that we’ve gotta withdraw; we have to have quote ‘timetables.’ Timetables was the buzzword at that time, and there were — and it was a defining moment. It was a low point in my political, uh, career, and we — Lindsey Graham, I, the president and others — said this is what needs to be done, no matter what the consequences are. Governor Romney obviously said there had to be, quote, ‘timetables,’ although they had to be secret because we weren’t going to tell the enemy when we were leaving. I mean, that’s — that’s just the fact, and if we’d-a done that, as the Democrats and some Republicans wanted to do, we would have lost that surge and Al-Qaeda would be celebrating a victory over the United States of America.

RUSH: This, to me, is… As you people know, I’ve got my political problems with Senator McCain, but this is beneath even him. This is just contemptible. Romney said nothing of the sort. Everybody’s looked into it and concluded the same thing. Saturday afternoon, in fact… This really disappoints me. The one thing about Senator McCain everybody’s always been able to point to is his honor. There’s no honor in this. It’s just desperation. On Saturday afternoon, Romney said, ‘I think Senator McCain ought to apologize.’ McCain came back and said he’s not going to apologize; he ought to apologize to the men and women in uniform for sabotaging the mission. I’m paraphrasing. To do something so obviously disprovable! Russert said, ‘Well, Governor Romney said he never suggested a specific timetable, that you’re being dishonest and you should apologize.’

McCAIN: When he was asked the timetable, should there be a timetable for withdrawing troops. ‘Well, there’s no question the president and Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about, but they shouldn’t be for public pronouncement. You don’t want the enemy to understand how long they have they have to wait in the weeds until you’re going to be gone.’ That’s — that’s, my friend, was the quote. That was a clear indication of setting timetables that — but you don’t want to tell the enemy when you’re going to be gone. It’s very clear.

RUSH: McCain wants us to believe that Romney was for surrender! This is… (sigh) This is Clintonesque! There’s no other way to put this. Here’s Romney, this is what he said on April 3rd, 2007, Good Morning America.

ROMNEY: Well, there’s no question but that the president and Prime Minister al-Marbling have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about, but those shouldn’t be for public pronouncement. You don’t want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you’re going to be gone.

RUSH: That sounds to me like he’s against putting timetables on troop withdrawals, and this is something McCain knows. Here’s what Romney said on Late Edition, Sunday, responding to this question of whether or not McCain has a point about this.

ROMNEY: No, he doesn’t have a point. I’ve never said that we should have a date certain to withdraw. He knows it. I’ve been asked that question time again. He’s simply being dishonest. He knows that. But he desperately is trying to change the subject because he does not understand the economy, has no experience in the private economy — and right now that’s the biggest issue people are facing so he’s doing his best to change topics.

RUSH: Governor Romney has a point there. He didn’t rise to the bait, just flat-out denied it. This didn’t fly with anybody on Saturday in the mainstream media. In the New York Times, I don’t care where you look, AP, they all said, ‘Wow, this is just not true,’ and so McCain kept it up on Sunday, à la Clinton: Just keep repeating it as though it’s true, hoping people will finally accept it. It’s very disappointing.

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