RUSH: Before I play the sound bite, I need to ask those of us who were listening to this program at about this time yesterday, the first half-hour of this program yesterday, I want to ask all of you, Mr. Snerdley, Dawn, Brian, did I, on this program yesterday, did I suggest that Mike Huckabee should be McCain’s vice presidential nominee? I did not say that at all, did I? Did I praise Huckabee on this program yesterday and suggest that that would be my choice to make this ticket one I could support? All right, I didn’t think so, but I say a lot, and sometimes it’s hard to remember specifically without checking the transcript. Let’s go to Tucker Carlson last night. He had David Shuster and McCain campaign advisor Frank Donatelli.
SHUSTER: Mike Huckabee got some praise today from Rush Limbaugh, who as you know has suggested that McCain does not represent his view of the Republican Party, and there was Rush Limbaugh today praising Mike Huckabee, and he said, ‘Republicans cannot win the White House, cannot win a presidential race without winning in the South, and McCain demonstrated he can’t do that unless he puts the Huckster on the ticket as the veep.’ What’s your reaction, what’s the McCain campaign reaction to this blatant suggestion that Mike Huckabee ought to be John McCain’s running mate?
DONATELLI: Well, I’m delighted that Rush has changed his mind on Mike Huckabee. You know, he was critical of him for many months, maybe he’ll change his opinion on us and give Senator McCain a little benefit of the doubt in the near future.
RUSH: You know what alerted me to this? I was sitting at home last night, I was minding my own business, just relaxing, and all of a sudden I got four or five e-mails from people who hadn’t heard the program yesterday, ‘Did you endorse Huckabee as vice president?’ ‘No, I didn’t.’ ‘Well, they’re saying all over MSNBC that you did.’ I think what I said here yesterday was talking about regional politics, and I did point out McCain won his Super Tuesday votes in these blue states that he’s not going to carry in the general election, and he’s going to need somebody to get Southern votes, because he didn’t get them, and Huckabee did. I think what I actually said was, during the course of the program yesterday, that McCain’s going to throw Huckabee overboard now that he doesn’t need him, Huckabee’s been around to split the Romney vote. In fact, I said yesterday that McCain’s not going to put Huckabee on the ticket, there’s no way he’s going to do that. It isn’t going to happen. He’s going to throw him overboard. So from the fundraiser of Hillary to this, your host, being misrepresented profoundly on the Drive-By Media. Hardball with Chris Matthews, spoke with reporter David Shuster, part of the previous sound bite. Also, Chrystia Freeland from the Financial Times. Matthews says, ‘What’s Huckabee’s stake in your black eye, what’s his role?’
SHUSTER: To rally people like Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh today said that if John McCain wants to win the presidency he’s gotta put Mike Huckabee on the ticket. They want to show John McCain that, look, you need us. If you want to carry the South, if you want to get evangelicals behind your candidacy, put us, put me, Mike Huckabee, on the ticket, or at least recognize some of the issues that we care so deeply about.
MATTHEWS: Chrystia, is Rush Limbaugh now Boss Tweed, is that his role, King Caucus? Does he now dictate these things? Is he the kingfish of the Republican Party now?
FREELAND: Well, I think he would certainly like to be, and I think he needs to be a little bit careful not to overstep the mark. For one thing, John McCain historically has not been that good at listening to Bosses Tweed. His personality is a little bit adverse to that sort of thing.
RUSH: Folks, it’s the Twilight Zone. That’s Chrystia Freeland of the Financial Times. ‘Is Rush Limbaugh the Boss Tweed?’ After just writing, after just broadcasting it, I have lost totally because McCain is the presumptive nominee, all because they misunderstood what I said about Huckabee yesterday. They think that I have advocated Huckabee on the ticket, all of a sudden now I’m Boss Tweed, the kingfish, King Caucus. (laughing) I dictate things? (laughing) I’ll tell you, the Limbaugh machine, they are bugged. I didn’t even say it. I did not say I’d support the ticket with Huckabee on it. I didn’t even recommend it. I said McCain’s going to need somebody in the South to get votes. I said McCain’s going to throw Huckabee overboard now that he’s through with him. One more on this. Morning Joe today, Scarborough’s show, MSNBC, Chuck Todd, their political director, and Scarborough on the phone, all had this exchange about me.
SHUSTER: Rush Limbaugh said the other morning about, well, if John McCain wants to unite conservatives, especially in the South and be competitive, he ought to put Mike Huckabee on the ticket.
TODD: This is where I’m confused by Rush. I thought a week ago he said that if either McCain or Huckabee were the nominee, it would ruin the Republican Party. Now he thinks the two of them should run as a ticket.
SCARBOROUGH: That is very confusing.
RUSH: It’s only confusing, Joe, because I didn’t say it. Your reporter, Shuster, cannot get this right. But neither can CBS in New York get right my Hillary fundraiser purpose. Diane Sawyer was on the verge of not getting it. You all are in good company. CNN The Situation Room, correspondent Mary Snow, CNN comes close to getting it right on this.
SNOW: Don’t expect conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh to hop on the Huckabee bandwagon any time soon. Limbaugh has been highly critical of McCain and raised this question on his nationally syndicated radio talk show.
RUSH ARCHIVE: Now what’s going to happen is all of us are going to say, ‘Okay, who’s the conservative alternative? You gotta go to Huckabee now, Rush?’ There is no conservative alternative in the race. It’s just that simple.
RUSH: So CNN gets it, comes close; PMSNBC doesn’t. I don’t know. So I’m tribal chieftain, I’m leading the herd, King Caucus, Boss Tweed, kingfish, potentate, kingmaker, and who knows what else is coming down the pike.