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RUSH: The Drive-Bys, ladies and gentlemen, are still obsessed with the fact that it is me versus McCain rather than Romney. On the Situation Room on CNN last night, Wolf Blitzer was talking with Jack Cafferty, and Blitzer said, ‘Hey, Jack, between Mitt Romney and McCain out there, they’re trading barbs left and right.’

CAFFERTY: All of a sudden John McCain is being decried by the conservative wing of the Republican Party, guys like Rush Limbaugh are saying, ‘If this guy gets the nomination, the party is going to be ruined forever.’ But it’s all about electability, who can be elected in November, and at this point it looks like McCain might be the least objectionable.

RUSH: All right, now, how do we interpret this? CNN’s resident curmudgeon Jack Cafferty says that despite what I’m saying McCain is the Republican most palatable to Democrats and therefore should be the nominee. It boils down to he’s the only guy that can beat Democrats, electability. It does not come down to electability with me. Been there, done that, folks. I went through all this in great detail yesterday. Let’s continue with the audio sound bites. Same show, Situation Room, panel discussion, Jeffrey Toobin and Gloria Borger decide to add this to what Cafferty just said.

TOOBIN: It’s not all about electability. I mean, there are real conservatives out there who have principles positions who say that, on immigration, on campaign finance reform, who simply say, ‘You know what, he’s just not one of us.’

BORGER: And that’s why Romney will stay in even if he were to lose in Florida, that Romney’s going to stay in. I was talking to one of his advisors today who said, ‘Look, there is a concerted campaign out there against McCain, run by Rush Limbaugh, et cetera, et cetera. Why should we get out? We’ve got a lot of conservative support.’

RUSH: They’re claiming that a Romney advisor said hell, yes, we’re going to stay in, we’ve got Limbaugh campaigning for us. (laughter) There was no meeting, H.R., there has been no meeting. (laughter) No, I didn’t. Nobody sent a limo for me and nobody sent a memo to me, either. I haven’t seen any memo. So the Romney camp is saying that they’re going to stay in this because they got Limbaugh running interference for them, or what is the exact quote? ‘There’s a concerted campaign out there against McCain run by Rush Limbaugh, et cetera, et cetera, why should we get out?’ That has nothing to do with it. He’s not going to get out because he’s got all kinds of money. He can write a check any time he wants to. That’s not why he’s going to get out. There are a lot of people saying that whoever wins Florida wins the nomination. I’ve had a couple people tell me, Rudy has said that, whoever wins Florida wins the nomination. It’s too soon to be saying anything like that. I don’t know. I just call your attention to the chapter in my early book, ‘My success is not determined by who wins elections.’ David Brooks, to the Republicans, watch the hatred. He was on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Lehrer said, ‘What about McCain and Romney in Florida?’

BROOKS: The wild card here is the hatred, and it came out today, it’s come out —

LEHRER: Between these two guys?

BROOKS: Between these two guys. I think they both are in danger of just destroying themselves. They should look at what happened on the Democratic side. This is one country.

RUSH: I don’t know what planet he is on. This is what happens to conservatives when they end up writing for the New York Times. This is what happens to conservatives when they write conservatism for liberals. I think they’re both in danger of destroying themselves. They should look at what happened to the Democrat side. This is one country? What does that mean? And then Ruth Marcus on the same show, Jim Lehrer, she’s from the Washington Post, said, ‘Do you agree there’s a message here that the Republicans need to listen to?’

MARCUS: I think that there is the, within — between McCain and Romney hatred, but it will also be a test of the resistance to John McCain of some segments of the Republican Party. Obviously, Rush Limbaugh has been after him.

RUSH: Once again, it’s me against McCain, and I am being measured against my ability to defeat Senator McCain. Unreal, is it not, Mr. Snerdley? I have not seen this. I have been doing this 20 years. The closest that we’ve come to anything like this was after 1988 when H. W. Bush beat Dukakis, these people saying, ‘Well, that’s it for Limbaugh because his side won, so there’s nothing to talk about now.’ When Clinton won in ’92, they said, ‘Well, that’s it for Limbaugh. His side’s just been discredited. There’s nothing for him to talk about.’ But in this case, I have never been matched up as a candidate, in effect, when I’m not running. I’m running a campaign, running a Romney campaign, and now it is a test of me versus McCain, according to these people in the Drive-Bys. In a spate of a week-and-a-half, I’ve gone from irrelevant, to relevant, to spearheading a campaign, to now being measured by the Drive-Bys. They would just love to write the story. If McCain wins today if Florida, they’ve already got stories written, you know this. ‘McCain trounces Limbaugh, Romney in third place,’ something like that. (laughing)

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Here is Amy in Alexandria, Virginia. Amy, I gotta tell you: Amy is in my all-time, top-ten favorite female names list.

CALLER: Oh, well, thank you. I think your last 15 minutes actually proved my point, and I never thought these words would cross my lips, but I think the Drive-Bys actually got it pretty accurate when they said that you do not support the pseudo-Republican McCain for the nomination — and, you know, I listen to your show every day and you think you make it abundantly clear that if the Republican Party goes the direction of McCain, we are in big, big trouble. (giggles) So you can beat me up now.

RUSH: Why would I want to beat you up?

CALLER: Well, because you couldn’t believe that the media said these things.

RUSH: You didn’t quote the media right. You say that the media says I’m not supporting the pseudo-Republican. That’s not what they’re saying.

CALLER: No, no, no.

RUSH: They’re saying that this is a race between me and McCain, as though I’m on the ballot running for something and my objective is to keep McCain from winning. Now, do you accept that?

CALLER: (child babbling in the background)

RUSH: I guarantee you if McCain wins tonight — and it probably will be late before we know, because there are a million absentee and early votes that have to be counted, manually — if McCain wins, you know the Drive-Bys are going to report ‘McCain Soundly Beats Limbaugh.’

CALLER: I think you’re right about not supporting him, but I do think it’s impressive — not impressive — I think it means a lot the way you feel about it and the fact that you say that, because my husband doesn’t get to listen to your show but I’ve even told him. I said, ‘Wow, you should hear the way Rush feels about if we choose McCain,’ and I’ve actually have made that point to him, and it meant something to him and I think that’s what they’re saying. Granted a week ago they said you were insignificant, but I do think it’s significant, and I think it’s worthy of reporting.

RUSH: Significant, insignificant, worthy of reporting? Look, there are a lot of people opposing Senator McCain, Amy. It isn’t just me.

CALLER: No one’s as big as you, though.

RUSH: But none of the others are being positioned as they are positioning me.

CALLER: Charlie Crist is no Rush Limbaugh. (laughs)

RUSH: But Crist is for McCain. Crist has endorsed McCain.

CALLER: (unintelligible) (laughs)

RUSH: You’re right about Charlie Crist not being Rush Limbaugh, but nevertheless I mean I’m a radio talk show host. What am I? Amy, I’m not arguing with you here. I’m not beating you up. So please get that thought all of your mind.

CALLER: Oh, no.

RUSH: If you thought you were going to get beat up you’re very courageous and brave for calling.

CALLER: (laughs)

RUSH: What am I supposed to do here when I have definitive, heartfelt, passionate opinions about all of this? What am I supposed to do, squelch them?

CALLER: Oh, no! I think it’s awesome that you do it, but I also think that the media is okay to report what you’re saying. They may be trying to set it up as a fight, but I do think it’s newsworthy that you feel so strongly about it.

RUSH: I don’t care that they report what I say. It’s not that. That’s fine. What they’re reporting is that it is me running a campaign; that it is me against McCain. They were very happy when McCain ran South Carolina. They ran stories about how I’m ‘irrelevant,’ that I failed to mobilize my voters — and the fact of the matter is that to believe that that’s what I do here, you have to accept the premise that all of you in the audience are a bunch of mind-numbed robots, incapable of thinking for yourselves. You sit out there and wait for me to tell you what to do and then go do it. That’s the only way this analysis works.

CALLER: Well, unlike most campaigns, you are actually providing hard facts that help us make informed decisions.

RUSH: (laughs) I know. I probably would be a pretty good campaigner, but that’s not what I’m doing.

CALLER: (laughs)

RUSH: I was a little stunned to hear somebody on CNN say that the Romney campaign said, ‘Why should we get out? We got Rush Limbaugh running a campaign against McCain for us.’

CALLER: (giggles)

RUSH: Now, that did sort of set me back. Anyway, look, you agree with the Drive-Bys on this. Look, Amy, I’m glad you called. Is that a little baby that I hear crying in the background?

CALLER: Well, she’s talking, yes. She’s three.

RUSH: Well, talking, crying. It’s all the same to me.

CALLER: (laughs)

RUSH: What’s her name?

CALLER: Her name is Shelby.

RUSH: Shelby.

CALLER: Yes. It’s a good southern name, Shelby.

RUSH: Very cool. Very, very cool. What does she want to be when she grows up?

CALLER: Probably an astronaut. (laughs)

RUSH: See, this is good. Already has an idea. This is the kind of passion that leads to success. It’s never too early to know what you want to do. Amy, thanks much for the call. I appreciate it so much. What am I supposed to do here, folks? Seriously. Am I supposed to just shut up? Am I supposed to not tell you what I think? Am I supposed to squelch my thoughts? (McCain impression) ‘Yes, Limbaugh, squelch them! If you don’t, I will.’ (sigh)

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