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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: We went to Rush’s Florida studio for a rare face-to-face interview, and tonight Rush goes “On the Record” about Governor Sarah Palin’s resignation. Does the radio powerhouse think the governor is a quitter?

First, Rush Limbaugh on the Capitol Hill health care battle.


VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any problem — I do — with members of Congress voting on a bill this important and not actually reading it page by page? I know it’s long — I mean…

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Do I have a problem with it?

VAN SUSTEREN: I’m just — that’s — that’s where I’ve — I don’t know how you vote yes or no without knowing what you’re voting on.

LIMBAUGH: Depending — if you’re a Democrat, you vote yes or no because Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer are threatening you! Henry Waxman, in the Energy and Commerce Committee, where a large part of this bill was put together, was being asked some questions by Republicans on the panel. He said, You can’t expect me to know everything in this. Yes, we can expect you to know everything in it! You’re the ones putting it together.

Well, there are people reading it, Greta, and we’re finding out what’s in it and people are being told. You know, we’ve reached a point here where Washington has become this massive magnet, the center of attention in government, and just the presence of people there makes them better, makes them smarter. The details don’t count. They’re smart. We’re idiots. We aren’t capable of taking care of ourselves. We aren’t capable of making the proper decisions to do the right thing in life. We need as much of that control by them.

So the details — Obama last night didn’t know the details. He didn’t care about the details because it’s not about health care. It’s about an ideological attempt to control freedom, limit it as much as possible.

I know that sounds hard to believe. Why would — people don’t want to accept that the United States would ever elect — the people of this country would ever elect somebody who has that agenda. Well, we have!

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there anything President Obama has done so far that you think, That’s good, that’s smart?

LIMBAUGH: No. I’m embarrassed by him. He’s whining. Last night, he continued to blame Bush. Oh, we inherited this and we inherited that and we — I’ll tell you how bad it’s gotten. The New York Times today does a little fact-check article that blows him out of the water — The New York Times! (INAUDIBLE) Politico, a piece on the horrible questions. I think some of the press is starting to get guilty consciences about — about the irresponsible way the guy has been covered and not been covered.

I don’t know him personally. And none of this is personal with me. I — this is about America. This is about the country. I — he’s my president, too. And I — I hoped very publicly that he would fail.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do — why do you — the DNC is running an ad quoting you as saying that you hope he fails.

LIMBAUGH: Yes. Well, he already has. He has — this is a very two- pronged thing. He has failed. Can you tell me what he’s doing is working? I don’t — know you don’t want to sacrifice your journalistic objectivity.

VAN SUSTEREN: Look, I’m hoping. I’m hoping that…

LIMBAUGH: Well, hope isn’t going to get — hope is an excuse for doing nothing!

VAN SUSTEREN: I know, but I’m saying that, you know, look, I thought that the better idea, when we need to put money into the system, was to get rid of some of the taxes on people’s weekly incomes.

LIMBAUGH: Yes, well, that…

VAN SUSTEREN: I thought — I — you know…

LIMBAUGH: That hasn’t happened.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, but I thought that was a faster infusion of cash into the system, you know, so people had more take-home pay. Now…

LIMBAUGH: They have less!

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we — the president and the Congress decided on a spending — a stimulus program instead. I didn’t think that was fast. I didn’t think that was immediate. But I certainly hope that it’s successful.

LIMBAUGH: It won’t. It can’t possibly succeed. It cannot possibly! This was my point earlier.

VAN SUSTEREN: I will admit that it has so far not given any of the…

LIMBAUGH: It can’t possibly! They are now even predicting unemployment is going to go double digits, 10 percent!

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it’s worse in Michigan than 10 percent. And it’s worse…

LIMBAUGH: Well, I think it’s worse in the country.

VAN SUSTEREN: And it’s worse in the inner city than 10 percent. It’s much…

LIMBAUGH: And who runs the inner cities and who — Democrats! In the blue states, in these blue cities, we’re going straight down in a wrong direction. And this is not by accident! These people are not competent. Their ideas do not work. We don’t need to turn this country into a banana republic!

VAN SUSTEREN: And I will concede that that 10 percent number does not include the people who have given up.

LIMBAUGH: Exactly right.

VAN SUSTEREN: So that number grossly underestimates…

LIMBAUGH: It could be 15 or 20 percent.

VAN SUSTEREN: And it is deeply disturbing. However, bet that as it may, is that, as I said, is that more than anything else, I want the stimulus program to work because I want those people employed. But I don’t see the number — I don’t see it there right now. It is — it is not…


VAN SUSTEREN: It is not convincing me at the moment.

LIMBAUGH: This is interesting. See, I know it won’t work. I don’t have time for hope. I don’t have time to sit around and hope. Hope is an excuse for doing nothing.

VAN SUSTEREN: But — I know, but it’s already in effect. That’s the problem.


VAN SUSTEREN: They’ve already passed it.

LIMBAUGH: But — but it’s — it’s — 2010 is coming up, and most of the money hasn’t been spent.

VAN SUSTEREN: Only 10 percent has.

LIMBAUGH: Right! So what — what — what the hell is it about anyway? You…

VAN SUSTEREN: Which brings me back to — which brings me back to I wish they had read it. That’s why — so many voted on it that didn’t read it.

LIMBAUGH: No. Greta, you’re giving them way too much benefit of the doubt. This is on purpose! This was done to stimulate the Democrat Party! This was done to stimulate state government! This was done to stimulate the power of Washington, D.C.! It was a sold bill of goods, untrue, like cap-and-trade is, like health care reform is, like everything else they’re doing. None of it is true! There was never any intention to create jobs!

Where are the shovel-ready jobs? Where’s all the work on the infrastructure? It ain’t happening! Caterpillar’s still laying people off! None of this — you can sit and hope — I don’t mean you personally. You can sit and hope all day, and this is not the way you do it.


LIMBAUGH: He has already failed. Now, let me finish this thought. He’s failed, but not the way I hoped. He has failed literally. He has failed the American people. He has done nothing for them that they thought was going to happen when they voted for him! They don’t have jobs. They don’t have rising incomes. They don’t have the seas being lowered. He actually promised that. We — none of — we don’t have anything positive happening.

Now, I wanted him to fail in implementing the stimulus because I knew this was going to happen. This is my point, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think that’s — but that’s where — is that you’re rooting for failure. I’m rooting for success, but I don’t think we’re going to get it because we don’t have the numbers right now.

LIMBAUGH: No, no, no. I am rooting for American triumph. I am rooting for American success. For that, Obama must fail. It’s now six months later. Look, what Obama’s doing is failing. It is a disaster for people, for individual Americans. It is a disaster! I did not want this to happen! I want everybody to succeed. I want everybody to be prosperous.


LIMBAUGH: This is not how you do it. Is this how the country was built? Is this how we came out of the ’82 recession? What did we do then? We cut tax rates from 70 percent to 28 percent in the ’80s. We cut capital gains. We got out of people’s way. We turned the American people loose.

Obama has contempt for the American people! He wants the government to be the central focus of America, not the people! And plus, he’s got a deep resentment for the rich and the people who’ve achieved. They need to be punished. We’re going to take their money in taxes and the wealth destruction and redistribute it to others in the form of cap-and-trade and the form of health care reform, and whatever issue he comes up with that’s clouded (ph) in his mask of so-called compassion.

So he has failed. And the sooner people admit this and realize it, then the sooner we do something about it. So if only 10 percent of the stimulus has been spent, let’s say the Republicans pull a rabbit out of their hats and win the House back in 2010, or take away the majority in the Senate — and neither of the two are out of the realm of possibility — we can stop this.

We can cancel the — now, he might veto any bill that the Republicans would write that would cancel the rest of the spending on the stimulus, and say. turn it into a tax cut, which would be very indicative, too. But look, elections have consequences. So we got what we voted for or what the majority of the American people voted for.

VAN SUSTEREN: What does it mean big picture politically if the health care does not pass, if he can’t even get his — enough Democrats? Because there are enough Democrats there, if he got them all, to pass it. What does it mean to him big picture politically?

LIMBAUGH: Well, I’d have to probably side with Jim DeMint that this – – this is his centerpiece. This is what it’s always all been about for the Democrat Party, going back to the Clintons. If he doesn’t get this this time, he’ll just come back and try for it next year, or later in this term. They’re going to keep fighting for this, Greta.

This is why I think it’s wrong for people on our side to start getting giddy about the polls showing most people opposing this, and so forth. These people never give up. They never go away. They’re not going to stop until they get this done. That’s why they have to constantly be politically defeated. And that’s what the future elections are all about.

So I don’t think Obama’s a quitter, either. I do think Obama has a problem with criticism. I think he’s led a charmed life. I think he thinks he’s above criticism, being laughed at, and so forth, and being rejected. And if this happens, it’s just going to fire him up even more.

And Rahm Emanuel is going to be sending more dead fish to more Democrats to warn them not to vote this way the next time. So it’s — this is — it’s a constant battle with these people who want to take over the country for themselves. It’s never going to end.


VAN SUSTEREN: Up next, Rush says there is a battle raging inside the Republican Party. Could a third party be coming? And who does Rush think is the leading Republican candidate now? Rush on that, Governor Sarah Palin’s future and much more.

Plus: Did President Obama apologize? The president changes his tune after saying the Cambridge police acted “stupidly” for arresting a Harvard professor. But is the firestorm still growing? We report, you decide.


VAN SUSTEREN: More with Rush Limbaugh on the future of the Republican Party.


VAN SUSTEREN: Do you hold yourself out as a conservative, not necessarily a Republican?

LIMBAUGH: Yes, by all means.


LIMBAUGH: The Republican Party doesn’t even like me today.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, I was going to ask you about the Republican Party. Why aren’t they going to like you?

LIMBAUGH: Well, the Republican Party has got its own battles. There’s an internecine battle going on in the Republican Party for who’s going to lead it and what its identity is going to be. And the friction in the Republican Party is all about social issues or abortion.

The country club, blue-blood Rockefeller types and the quasi-inside- the-Beltway conservative media are just embarrassed as they can be to be in the same party with a bunch of Billy Bobs, and so forth, from what they consider to be the hayseed sticks who are pro-life. It just bugs them to death.

I’ve been encountered by them at parties. I’ve had some of these blue-bloods come up to me and poke me in the chest, What are you going to do about Christians? I said, What do you mean, what am I going to do with Christians? “They’re destroying our party. This abortion stuff, we’re never going to get the women, and it’s killing us. We’ve got to get it — they’re just embarrassed to go to a convention with them, and so forth. I said, Well, they’re 24 million votes, and if you want to let the Democrats have them, you’re never going to win a thing.

They also don’t like conservatives. The New York/Boston/Washington corridor, axis of the Republican Party does not like conservatives. They didn’t really like Reagan. They tolerated Reagan. They thought Reagan was a dunce, too.

They like the whole D.C. Beltway mentality of elitism and sharing power and all being on the same team. We’re just in different parties and will trade positions now and then as to who wins. But they’re not really ideological. The conservative wing of the Republican Party is the only time when it’s dominated that the Republican Party has been victorious.

And I, of course, am not an elite. I’m not a country club, blue-blood Rockefeller type. I’m considered unsophisticated, and you know, sort of — We don’t want Limbaugh. We don’t want to be associated with Limbaugh, that radical (INAUDIBLE) So the Republican Party is going through these battles right now. And you know, Palin is out there exciting people, and some people all right starting to talk about third party.

And I’ll tell you, I — I’ll tell you how bad the Republican Party — the trouble it’s in. When people say — when Republicans, when our opinion leaders, say Colin Powell is the model Republican, that’s when I say, OK, gang, you leave the party and you form the Colin Powell party because I don’t know how in the world we have a man who endorsed the Democrat candidate, campaigned for the Democrat candidate, did so at a strategic time to destroy McCain’s candidacy, when McCain is an ideal Colin Powell moderate — how can it be that a guy who went all the way in the bank for the Democrat candidate is the ideal Republican? How can it be said that that’s where we build our base, with moderates?

Show me the book in the library “Great Moderates in American History.” There isn’t one! Moderates, by definition, don’t have an opinion until they decide where the consensus is, the majority is, and go with it. So if that’s — if the future of the Republican Party is that, that’s why there’s bubbling talk of a third party.

And by — don’t — I’m not — let Colin Powell and whoever else thinks he’s the piece de resistance — let them leave the Republican Party and form their own third party. Right now, I don’t know what Colin Powell stands for. I don’t know what Obama’s doing he agrees with or disagrees with. Well, he did — he doesn’t like all the spending. But then last December, he said the American people want higher taxes and bigger government. That’s not Republicanism.


VAN SUSTEREN: Next, Rush says that someone is terrified of Governor Sarah Palin and trying to destroy her. But does Rush think the soon-to-be ex-Alaska governor is a quitter? More with Rush next.

Plus: Gates-gate explodes! Cambridge police stand their ground after police — after President Obama said they acted “stupidly” by arresting Harvard professor Henry Gates. But the president is saying something different tonight. The police and the president in their own words coming up.


VAN SUSTEREN: Continuing with Rush Limbaugh on Governor Sarah Palin and much more.


VAN SUSTEREN: So who’s your — who’s your candidate?


VAN SUSTEREN: Right now.

LIMBAUGH: I don’t — too early. And it’s unrealistic for people to think we should have one. In 2001, six months after Bush was inaugurated, did the Democrats have their leader? Did the Democrats have somebody going to run around and get the next — no. They were in a state of disarray, thinking the election had been stolen from them.

In 2004, six months after Bush beats Kerry, who was the leader? Who was rallying the Democrats? Howard Dean was out there doing things at the local level and the state level. It was assumed back then that Hillary was the next (INAUDIBLE)

VAN SUSTEREN: But not in terms of horse race. I’m looking at who do you sort of, from an ideology point of view, do you think is the smartest or best candidate in your mind now?

LIMBAUGH: Well, that’s — I don’t want to answer that criteria, smartest and best. I’m looking right now at who can win. And I look at who excites crowds. And I also, I think, Greta, that the state-run media and the Democrat Party will go a long way in telling us who they are most afraid of.

And I don’t think they’re afraid of Mike Huckabee because they never talk about him. I don’t think they’re afraid of Mitt Romney much, although if he surfaces, they’ll go after his religion again. But they’re trying to destroy Sarah Palin. They’re literally trying to destroy not just her career but her reputation.

Now, if they’re not worried about Sarah Palin, why do this? I think they — the Democrats are telling us who right now they are most afraid of, who they think can beat Obama. It’s not hard to understand why. You covered Palin a lot during the campaign, largest crowds on the Republican side, the most enthusiasm. People were revved up and fired up, in some cases even more than Obama rallies.

And the Obama rallies were just cult — they were just showing up to be part of the story. They didn’t care what Obama was saying. It’s just he was Obama. Sarah Palin was exciting people on substance.

VAN SUSTEREN: She quit, though.

LIMBAUGH: Doesn’t matter.

VAN SUSTEREN: Doesn’t matter?

LIMBAUGH: No. Doesn’t matter. Might be a very smart move. I think she’s — I think she’s a step ahead of people. I think — lookit, regardless what her plans are (INAUDIBLE) politically inclined or if she wants to come earn some money — if they’re political, her opponents are all down here on the lower 48 on television every day. They’re making speeches every day. She’s up in Alaska, she can’t compete with them.

Also, I think she told the truth about the ethics stuff was getting in her way of governing. I mean, none of these ethics charges have been proven true. It’s pure harassment. And if she just wants to earn money, then she’s got to come down here and do that, as well.

I think the fact that she quit, you know, that’s — that’s too easy. That’s conventional wisdom — Oh, she’ll never go anywhere. She’s quit. They’ll run ads saying, When the going got tough, she quit. All that can be obviated by what she does between now and then. And I don’t know what her aspirations — I’ve never met her. I’ve never talked to her.

VAN SUSTEREN: Never met her?

LIMBAUGH: No. I’ve never talked to her. I don’t — none of this is, you know, personal to me. I care about the United States of America. I care about the American people. I want our exceptionalism and greatness to be promoted, revived, and so forth. And whoever comes along — if it was a conservative Democrat to come along and do that, I’d be there if they were genuinely conservative, whatever party they were in. It’s not about — it’s not about personalities. It’s not about horse races. It’s about the country.

The country — we’re a great country at risk in a very dangerous world. And we’re now also under daily assault — the American economy, our private sector, is under daily assault by its own government. This is frightening. Never thought I would see this in my lifetime. I never thought I would see purposeful policies to harm people economically.

And that’s what we have. No sane person, no economically literate or educated person would ever continue a program like this stimulus plan under the — under the notion of creating jobs. It’s not going to do that. It’s going to destroy them. And they wouldn’t do health care on top of it, would not build up all this debt. It just — this is so nonsensical, it’s so illogical, it so violates economic science, it has to be being done on purpose.

VAN SUSTEREN: Rush, your show is growing. You’re gaining more listeners all of the time. Any — I mean, longevity in any of these businesses is always so amazing. What’s — what’s the secret? What — what do you think is your…


VAN SUSTEREN: … reason for your of success?

LIMBAUGH: … one of the — I — I — when I started in 1988, I was it. And when I started my national radio show, there was only CNN and New York Times and The Washington Post and the magazines, and so forth. All this cable stuff hadn’t popped up yet and the Internet hadn’t popped up in big numbers. The blogs hadn’t (INAUDIBLE) So I got a head start on everybody.

And I was — you know, I made a deep connection with the audience. I mean, there was a whole bunch of Americans who were conservatives and never saw their viewpoint reflected in mainstream media news coverage. So here comes me. And I — you know, I’m not a Svengali. I’m not creating (INAUDIBLE) robots. I’m simply validating what people already believe. And they’re going, Yes, yes, I like this guy! He says what I think.

So I got a head start, so I’ve got this deep font of loyalty with this audience. And I — you know, it’s been 21 years on August 1st. But I — when I sit down at that microphone, my expectations of myself are — well, I do everything for the audience. Everything I do is for the show. And I will never phone it in because I’ve got too much respect for the audience. I will always give it my best shot every day.

What happened yesterday doesn’t count or 10 years ago doesn’t count. I don’t remember — if you had asked what I talked about yesterday, I could give you a broad paintbrush health care. Specifics, I don’t know because I’m thinking about tomorrow. And it’s — I think it’s a respect for the audience, respect for their intelligence, and a deep appreciation for what they have meant to my life.

My parents wouldn’t understand my life. They didn’t think it would be possible for some guy who refused to go to college to have this kind of success. They came out of the Great Depression. This just wasn’t possible.

And I owe all of this to a devoted and loyal audience who stuck with me through all these years. Why they do it? It’s a good show. It’s a fun show. It’s positive. People don’t want to be beat up every day with, This caffeine product is going to kill you, or, The seas are rising and New York’s going to get flooded. They want to hear about greatness.

They want — people want to be inspired! People want to be motivated. They want their positive thoughts validated. They don’t want to hear every day how everything’s going to hell in a handbasket and there’s a shortage of handbaskets. They don’t want to hear this. That’s what gets ratings on television.

I have shown you get ratings on radio being positive, respecting the audience, being inspiring and motivational at times, when it’s necessary. I just try to share as much of my life experience with everybody because I — it turned out pretty well. I’m very proud of it.


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