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RUSH: This is from the debate last night. Anderson Cooper of CNN said to Governor Huckabee, ‘Governor Huckabee, Rush Limbaugh says if you or Senator McCain were nominated, would be the nominee, you would destroy the Republican Party. Your reaction?’

HUCKABEE: You know, I wish Rush loved me as much as I love Rush. I think he’s a great voice for conservatism. It doesn’t mean he’s inerrant or infallible, and on this he’s very wrong. One of the things that Rush Limbaugh once praised me for was creating what I called the Tax Me More Fund. And the way that worked was we had a lot of people in our legislature who wanted us to raise taxes, and I said, ‘We don’t need to raise taxes, we need to cut our spending.’

RUSH: You’d already done that.

HUCKABEE: And so I created a fund called the Tax Me More Fund that said there’s nothing in the law that says that you can’t just pay more if you want to. And I had envelopes printed, and I said, anybody who wants to pay more taxes, just fill it up with whatever will make you feel better and send it right in. And it proved that a whole lot of people didn’t really want to pay more taxes after all, because after about a year-and-a-half there was only about $1,200 in the account, a thousand of which was given by a liberal legislator. So, if we’re gonna talk conservatism, I’d like to be in on the discussion.

RUSH: All right, again, let me stress here, I love Governor Huckabee as a man. I think he’s funny. I think he’s an engaging, charismatic figure and personality. I have no personal animus toward — for the record — any of these guys. They’ve accomplished a lot. They’ve achieved a lot. Running for president is not an easy thing to do. It’s very hard, but I do think that Governor Huckabee has to know that he’s not going to win this, but he’s going to stay in. And the reason he’s staying in is because I think there’s a little tag-team going on between him and McCain to freeze votes away from Mitt Romney, which is fine. Look, I know a lot of people saying to Huckabee, ‘Get out of this, you know you’re gumming up the works.’ No, I’m not going to tell these people what to do in that regard. He’s free to stay in if thinks he has a chance here.

But if he really doesn’t want Romney to win, if he’s sided with McCain or wants McCain to win and this is his way of helping, then fine and dandy. I just put it out there for you to see, for you to process, and for you to make a judgment on and so forth. I think the question would have better been asked of Senator McCain, frankly, but that’s just me. I wasn’t moderating the debate. Now, CNN Alive after the debate at the Reagan ‘liberry,’ for those of you in Rio Linda, Anderson Cooper spoke with Bill Bennett about me. Cooper said, ‘The need now for all these candidates, but for McCain in particular, try to reach out to conservatives, and in particular conservative radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh?’

BENNETT: He does again have to respond to these serious claims about he is too far to the left on things like immigration, on campaign finance reform, on ANWR, on Guantanamo, there’s a long list. Now, John McCain, if he gets on his high horse and says, ‘Well, you all know who I am and I’ve done a lot,’ he’s going to be in trouble.

RUSH: Bill Bennett is essentially backing up what Scarborough said, that there isn’t a Republican establishment candidate, meaning the old blue-blood old boys network, country clubber guys, is not enough to put him over the top. He’s going to need conservative support in the general election or they don’t have a prayer. The McCain camp knows this, and at some point they think they’ve got the nomination secured, there probably will be tentacles of reach-out that find their way into certain places. I don’t expect to see one of those tentacles. (interruption) I know, H.R. — well, you’ll get it if it happens, and then you’ll tell me, and when it happens, we’ll deal with it, but too much left to be determined.

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