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RUSH: We’re going to go to Pemberton, New Jersey. This is Rebecca. Thank you so much for waiting, Rebecca. Great to have you with us here.

CALLER: Rush, no problem. I’m really stressed out, and I’m calling you because I’m stressed and I’m tense. I’m really worried about the debate, and I’ve been listening to you today, and I’ve gotten more and more hyped up about it, and I have my own business in South Jersey, so I was sitting in my office listening, and then I started writing notes, and I said, I want to prep John McCain on the Ayers issue because I don’t have confidence, I’m worried that they’re not going to get this issue across correctly.

RUSH: Which issue?

CALLER: Well, a few, and I thought, I don’t have any power, let me call Rush, maybe someone in the McCain campaign will hear him, even though I’m not as politically smart as you. I think the first thing Obama is going to say is, again, he’s going to again downplay this, he’s going to trying to diminish McCain with his arrogance and he’s going to say you didn’t bring it up in the debate and you’re desperate. And I think McCain has to emphasize, call out the media and emphasize that citizens are coming up to him, which is true, that haven’t heard about the Ayers issue, they’re concerned about it, they don’t know why the media has kept it quiet, and I agree with these citizens, and I’m not going to disregard their questions, and Senator Obama, if you’re going to disregard their questions, then you don’t understand how concerned these citizens are. That’s the first thing that he’s going to try to do.

RUSH: Okay. Well, you’ve given me a profound challenge here.

CALLER: Oh. I did? (laughing)

RUSH: You have. You should join the crowd of those who seek and wish to advise the McCain campaign. I can’t tell you the number of people, just average people, friends of mine —

CALLER: Right.

RUSH: — send me notes: ‘I know you know how to get through, would you tell them to X?’

CALLER: So I’m just one of those many people, and I’m thinking, you know, well, maybe I can get through and someone will listen. We’re frustrated. We are frustrated.

RUSH: Well, wait a second, now. I’m trying to help you here. You’re stressed and you’re tense and I’m saying, ‘You gotta deal with reality as it is.’

CALLER: Yeah.

RUSH: You start building up expectations for yourself —

CALLER: Right.

RUSH: — and they aren’t met tonight by somebody you have no control over, you have no control over what McCain’s going to say, you’re just going to be worse off tonight after the debate, if you do that. What I want to try to do is give you a dose of reality.

CALLER: Okay.

RUSH: This campaign’s been going basically — when did McCain secure this, February?

CALLER: Yeah.

RUSH: Okay, I would venture to say that throughout most of that period, you’ve been saying, ‘Why didn’t he say this? Why didn’t he do that? Why didn’t he go there?’

CALLER: Yes.

RUSH: Hasn’t done it, has he?

CALLER: No. (laughing)

RUSH: So what is there, what is the evidence here three weeks before election that we’re going to get a 180?

CALLER: Okay, this is what I’m thinking. I’m thinking that maybe they’re starting to listen to us, and they realize how important this Ayers issue is and how McCain has to bring it home. And the American people might not get it, and Obama is very convincing, and he’s very good at diminishing the things that McCain is saying. I mean I think if McCain just came out and said, ‘Listen, do you think if I started off my political career in an unrepentant abortion bomber’s living room, would the press give me a free pass?’ You know, he’s gonna think that Obama would go, ‘Oh, I was only eight.’ If I hear that — if I hear that — hello?

RUSH: It’s not going to happen. He is not going to criticize the media.

CALLER: Why?

RUSH: ‘Cause it’s a no-win. Somebody running for president, you have to know that you’re going to get an anal exam. To criticize the media is considered to be starting to cry and whine and there’s no upside for a candidate attacking the media. Even though a lot of McCain supporters would love it —

CALLER: Right.

RUSH: — it isn’t going to happen, plus he doesn’t look at them the way you and I do. Despite what they’ve done to him, I’m telling you he doesn’t see the media the way you and I do.

CALLER: Well, you know, the other thing I was thinking, I just want to say this one thing, okay? Obama keeps saying he was only eight and it’s driving me crazy, it really is. And all I can think of is, John McCain should say, ‘I don’t care if I’m one or ten or 15, I would never be in the living room of Bill Ayers. He would never have me in his living room. That’s like being in Timothy McVeigh’s living room.’

RUSH: Yes.

CALLER: He’s gotta get this across. It’s just driving me crazy. And you know what else he should do, Rush? He should call the plumber, he should call that plumber who was talking to Obama and he should quote that plumber, because that plumber, he was a smart man, you know, the one on Neil Cavuto and maybe you’re right, maybe I should just give up.

RUSH: No. No. No, no, no. You’re misunderstanding. I’m not saying give up.

CALLER: Right.

RUSH: I’m saying allow yourself the opportunity to be surprised.

CALLER: Okay.

RUSH: Don’t go in with all these great expectations that are unlikely.

CALLER: Right.

RUSH: Go in there thinking the worst and you can’t help but be happy at the end of the day ’cause it’s not going to be that bad.

CALLER: Well, I’ll tell you one thing I want to tell you, I’ve been listening to you and, you know, you’ve really been out there really trying to keep everybody motivated because we’ve been having our ups and downs all —

RUSH: Here’s the thing out there, Rebecca. This is the bottom line. This is a referendum on Obama. You’ve just said it. I know you want leadership from our candidate, but you’re going to have to provide it yourself. How many times have I told you we are going to have to drag this campaign across the finish line?

CALLER: Well, what you know then, this is what I’m going to keep doing. I am talking to everybody I know, and I know the people who listen to your program are good people, patriots, citizens who work hard, working people, wonderful people in this country, they’re doing the same thing. I mean I go to the Columbus market, I have a stand there, in Columbus, New Jersey, and I can’t tell you how many people I’ve gotten into conversations with and I’m talking to my kids, I’m talking to my grandkids, I’m talking to my Jewish aunt in Florida and telling her, you know, all this stuff and that’s how we’re going to do it, and if you keep helping us, I think that’s the only — I’m going to keep doing it even though I’m frustrated.

RUSH: Well, good. Understand here we’re all going to have to be self-starters in this. We’re all going to have to be individual leaders among the people that we know. I’ll take care of leadership here from the Golden EIB Microphone, but it is what it is. You have to face the reality of it. Now, we’ve heard Senator McCain, he said he’s going to whip Obama’s-you-know-what, he’s going to bring up Ayers and all that tonight. Good. I’m looking forward to it, I want to see how it happens. I wish he hadn’t telegraphed it. A marketing plan is something to be executed, not bragged about, because then you give people a defense against it, but we’ll see. But, look, the debates are not going to decide anything, they’re not going to decide anything. I knew this after the first one, I knew it again after the one last week, and there’s going to be three weeks after this debate, and unless something highly unusual happens here tonight, the debate is not going to be the final determining factor. But beyond all that, I know, folks, that Rebecca is voicing every one of your fears, every one of your frustrations, every one. I know it. And what it tells me is what a golden opportunity we have had here for leadership at the elected level. Had there been that leadership, the American people will respond to leadership every time, and our side hasn’t had a whole lot of leadership, unless, of course, your number-one issue is earmarks, and then of course you’re happy as you can be.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Now, ladies and gentlemen, we just had a call representing, I’m sure, millions of you: a woman desperately wanting to get through to McCain to give him advice on what to do tonight. So we have average citizens trying to advise Senator McCain. Who is it advising Senator Obama? Let’s go to a media montage.

DAVID WRIGHT: McCain not only has to win this debate, he needs Obama to lose. He needs Obama to make the kind of mistake Michael Dukakis did.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: They’re going to play it safe and do what’s working.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: For Obama he’s basically in do-no-harm mode. His big challenge is just to avoid mistakes.

CHRIS CILLIZZA: Barack Obama’s been at this for several years now. I don’t think he’s going to make some major gaffe.

GOV. ED RENDELL: …survive this debate without any damage.

JOHN ROBERTS: Barack Obama is playing defense.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Barack Obama, does he play it safe tonight?

RUSH: They’re basically telling him, the Drive-Bys, ‘Just shut up! Whatever McCain says, just smile and laugh. Just don’t make any mistakes.’ Now, if they’re up by so much, if this election is over and so on, why are they worried about what happens in the debate tonight?

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