CALLER: Hey, Rush, how are you?
RUSH: Very well, sir. Thank you.
CALLER: Congratulations on your marriage and having a relevant show for 22 years.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: And I’m calling today about the Limbaugh Law. (sic) The Limbaugh Law basically vote the conservative, doesn’t matter if they’re Republican or not; better to have a liberal that we know than a RINO.
RUSH: No, no, no, no, no. That’s not the… No, no, no, no. Where did…? By the way, there is no Limbaugh ‘Law.’ There’s a Limbaugh Rule.
RUSH: And that is —
CALLER: Limbaugh Rule.
RUSH: — when faced with a liberal or a conservative on the ballot, always vote the conservative. Period.
CALLER: I’m talking about in the O’Donnell race. It was Castle or O’Donnell, and everyone was saying that O’Donnell isn’t ‘electable,’ only Mike Castle is because he’s a RINO and you were saying better vote for the conservative, a RINO, even though the conservative there’s a good chance that they’re unelectable.
RUSH: Well, no, because I don’t believe that the conservative is unelectable. I didn’t put that in there. My rule does not stipulate even if somebody loses. What I said was it does us no good to have a 51-seat majority if four or five of the votes are liberal Republicans or RINOs because 51 votes is not enough for a legislative majority. You need 60 votes in the Senate so unless you’re talking 60, your whistling Dixie. So you have fifty-one. We’ll have 51 seats. My point was to illustrate that these people are not really interested in a policy agenda; they want their chairmanships. ‘Fifty-one seats! I want 51 seats. Just want 51 seats.’ Now, of course, they don’t want 51 seats if the 51st seat is going to be O’Donnell for some reason. But it does no good to have RINOs agreeing with liberal Democrat policies and voting for it because it just waters down conservatism.
It waters down and destroys the brands of Republicanism, and we end being blamed for liberal policies because our guys vote for it. The Limbaugh Rule is if you got a liberal or a conservative running, you vote the conservative. Period! End of story. But who knows who’s ‘electable’? This was any point. The ‘Buckley Rule’ that these guys are all quoting — and, by the way, half of these people quoting the Buckley rule couldn’t carry his typewriter. A lot of these guys want to assume that they’re the new Buckley. None of them are the new Buckley. There is no new Buckley. These guys have not made names for themselves so they want to associate themselves with Buckley. The Buckley Rule here, there. Buckley violated his own rule.
Jay Nordlinger, National Review Online had a great post. ‘Impromptus.’ He said the Buckley Rule was really for presidential races in the first place. It’s not meant to be applied in all these hinterland places, midterm elections and all that. But the bottom line is William Buckley, as the godfather of conservatism, when somebody new showed up he welcomed them in. The movement was the movement. He was all happy to have them there and promoted them if they were worthwhile. And, by the way, if they weren’t, he dissed ’em. He got rid of the Birchers. He wasn’t particularly fond of Ayn Rand. But for the most part Buckley didn’t pretend other conservatives didn’t exist.
There is no new Buckley. These guys invoking the Buckley Rule? The Limbaugh Rule: You got a liberal or RINO or a conservative, you vote conservative. Per-i-od! Exclamation point. That’s the Limbaugh Rule. We don’t get into electability because we’re not clairvoyant and we don’t tell ourselves we can’t. Just yesterday Christine O’Donnell had 50 grand on tap, and she was down 25 points and had no prayer. Today she’s got over a million dollars and she’s only down 11. In one day! Don’t tell us we can’t win! That’s another thing you people in the establishment have gotta stop. You’ve gotta stop telling us who can’t win and who can, ’cause you don’t know. Nobody knows ’til the votes are counted.
RUSH: Rockford, Illinois, Lyle, thank you for waiting, sir. You’re next.
CALLER: Hello, Rush. Long time since I’ve talked to you but I listen to you every day. Thank you so much for all that you say, for all that you do, and for being an example both in what you say and what you do.
RUSH: Well, thank you very much, sir. I appreciate that.
CALLER: I want to point out a couple things. One was that the Rush Rule, you’ve actually exercised that yourself. Some of the listeners may not remember, but I believe in the ’92 presidential campaign when George Bush Sr. was running for reelection, he was opposed by Pat Buchanan in the primary and you made a statement that you had to go with the most conservative, and at the time you thought that would be Pat Buchanan. You followed your heart and you did what you said, and that’s the Rush Rule.
RUSH: Well —
CALLER: Karl Rove —
RUSH: That’s exactly —
CALLER: — seems to have forgotten the Reagan Rule, which is speak no ill of a fellow conservative. And I don’t understand that.
RUSH: Well, a lot of people are trying to figure it out. It’s one thing to be critical of somebody before the election. After it’s over, piling on like that, people say he’s just giving the Democrats campaign fodder. This is what has people scratching their heads and wondering what it is. Is it personal? Is there something going on that nobody knows about? Anyway, I had forgotten that, but you’re exactly right. In 1992, George Bush was running for reelection, Bush 41, and I endorsed Buchanan. Snerdley, you were around. You had not split for Seattle yet. I told everybody on the air why I was endorsing Pat Buchanan. I said we needed to have conservatism as part of the primary debate. There needed to be conservatism in the primary debate. Don’t forget Perot was out there, and everybody at the time except me was ignoring Perot, and I had half my audience saying, ‘You ought to be supporting Perot,’ and I said, ‘No, no, no, no. Perot’s a fine man but he does not even want to win. This is not what this is about. I called him a hand grenade with a bad haircut, I know, but that was just to be funny. My broadcast partners at the time, folks, thought I was blowing it by not getting on the Perot bandwagon. I endorsed Buchanan going into New Hampshire.
I’ll never forget, Buchanan, he’d done pretty well going into New Hampshire, he’s on TV, and he says to his troops, ‘Just ride to the sound of the guns. Just ride to the sound of the guns.’ We started getting phone calls from the Buchananites, ‘lock and load’ is how they would — instead of saying dittos, they said ‘lock and load.’ And I remember I had conservative establishment people calling me: ‘What are you doing here?’ There were meetings being held about this, that I’d endorsed Buchanan. I said, ‘Very simple. Look, if we want to win this, we got Bill Clinton, there needs to be a conservative debate, a conservative element of this campaign.’ So, yeah, he’s right, I was implementing the Limbaugh Rule even back then. I have not changed. I am who I am, and I’ve never put on airs; I’ve never phonied it up; I’ve never said I believed somebody I don’t and I’ve never been somebody I’m not these entire 22 years. Dawn, who was not part of the program at that point, says, ‘You don’t endorse people in primaries.’ That was true then. Remember, we started in 1988 after the primaries were over, in August of 1988, right on the cusp of the conventions. It ended up being The Loser, Dukakis, and George H. W. Bush, 41.
I remember after that election, we’d just been on the air three months, even then the vast Democrat media complex said, ‘Well, that’s it for Limbaugh, his guy won.’ (laughing) In three months they were burying me. I endorsed Buchanan in New Hampshire, Dawn, in a single state race, and Buchanan was ecstatic. I remember there was a thing — boy, these memories are coming back. There was a celebration during all this, might have been ’91 leading up to this primary, might have been ’92, but in New Hampshire there was a dinner — ’89, maybe — to honor Ronald Reagan. I remember I went to this thing and I made a speech where I professed my love and devotion to Ronald Reagan, and I said we’ve gotta stop punishing achievement. Yeah, I supported Bush in the end, of course. We gotta stop punishing achievement.
I remember I had a hotel room and I had Republican candidates knocking on that door coming in to say hi. Bill Bennett was in the room with me, and there was a knock on the door, someone opens it and it’s Buchanan. And Buchanan and Bennett were not getting along at the time. And the body language on Buchanan’s face, ‘Uh-oh, who’s in here,’ the door shut real quick and Buchanan left. I caught up with him later. Jesse Jackson was running around. I never saw him, but he was running around up there, too. I forget what year this was. I’d only been doing this two or three years at that point. I don’t remember if that was before the primaries where I endorsed Buchanan in New Hampshire. Buchanan’s candidacy faded away, but there ended up being a conservative debate and element in the primary that was my purpose.
RUSH: I am getting inundated with e-mails from the staff all over the country: ‘You better tell people that you ended up supporting Bush.’ Why is that so crucial? Of course I supported Bush. Not only did I end up supporting Bush, I actually introduced him at a campaign rally in New Jersey one day. It was a day or two before the vote, a day or two before the election. It might have been the Monday before the election. Well, of course I supported the nominee. I guess people want me to mention this in light of some of the Beltway Republicans distancing themselves from Christine O’Donnell.