RUSH: Grab sound bite number one. Diane Sawyer, this is last night during ABC’s Decision 2008 coverage early in the night.
SAWYER: There is, according to a lot of people, an independent primary taking place, and it is the primary of Rush Limbaugh.
RUSH: The primary of Rush Limbaugh. It gets even better than this as we go through the sound bites of coverage last night.
Let’s go to PMSNBC, otherwise known as DNCTV. Hardball with Chris Matthews. He’s talking to Howard Fineman of Newsweek and somebody named Michelle Bernard of the Independent Women’s Forum. Matthews says, ‘It just seems to me that McCain has two ways to win: Huckabee wins or he wins, and that’s fine with him.’
FINEMAN: The big fear for McCain is that he won’t be able to unite the party that, even if he does well tonight, whether it’s Rush Limbaugh or Dr. James Dobson or whatever, or Rick Santorum, that this will be a rejectionist front that will just stay out there and live off the land and fight against him all the way through Election Day. Sometimes conservative activists get in the mood —
FINEMAN: — where they prefer to lose.
FINEMAN: They prefer to lose.
FINEMAN: That’s what they wanna do! They love to lose!
MATTHEWS: I just think that’s so true, Michelle.
FINEMAN: They love to lose!
MATTHEWS: I think these guys like Rush Limbaugh —
MATTHEWS: — who I think is a great professional at what he does, would love to be the government in exile, have a Democrat like Hillary Clinton, especially Hillary Clinton as president, and he could go… He’d be in heaven for four years, putting her in hell.
RUSH: (laughing) We’re back to this! I’m not going to be… Last night from ABC, it was the ‘Primary of Rush Limbaugh.’ Now they say I want to lead a government in exile (laughter) and I really want to lose. I really want Hillary there because that’s how I make my career. I’m going to tell you again what my fear is here, folks. My fear is that in order to keep from losing, leaders of our party will go out and try to get as many liberals and moderates — which is the same thing — to join our party as liberals and moderates, and, in the process, water down the Republican Party and essentially change it. In fact, Tony Blankley writes about this. Tony Blankley used to be the Washington Times. He might still be; I’m not sure. I’m not sure where this piece is from, but it’s published today. Let me just give you the last, oh, third of this. ‘So, the mischievous gremlins and elves inside the wheel of history have served up John McCain to lead Ronald Reagan’s party into November battle. McCain is both the finest war hero since Eisenhower to run for president and the one senior Republican who has gleefully put his thumb in the eyes of his fellow Republicans and conservatives for a decade and a half.
‘He is the apostate leader of a party tending toward ossified orthodoxy. Conservatives, such as Rush Limbaugh, worry (with good cause) that this fluke of Republican history might permanently deflect the course of the party away from conservatism.’ And that’s precisely what I have been trying to say; not that I want to lose so I can get Hillary in there and cause her grief to my benefit. It’s not that at all. I’ve not said that I want Hillary to win. Others have said it. It’s been misreported and misunderstood that I have said that. Anyway, ‘Conservatives, such as Rush Limbaugh, worry (with good cause) that this fluke of Republican history might permanently deflect the course of the party away from conservatism. And indeed, we came to power in the party through, in part, a fluke of history. In the nomination fight of 1964 (in which [Tony Blankley] was a youth coordinator for Barry Goldwater in California), Goldwater had been running even or behind all spring. (He lost New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, West Virginia, Oregon and Pennsylvania. He won Illinois, Texas, Indiana, Nebraska and some caucus states.)
‘We were losing the decisive California primary until a few days before the vote, when Nelson Rockefeller’s new young second wife, ‘Happy’ Murphy Rockefeller, gave birth to little Nelson Jr. — reminding social conservatives of his previous, presumed adultery. Goldwater won by a thin 2 percent. We went on to the Cow Palace Convention in San Francisco [in ’64], where we Goldwaterites and Rockefeller exchanged vulgar, angry epithets. Rockefeller, Mitt’s dad, George Romney, and other moderates refused to support Goldwater. Some moderates formed ‘Republicans for Lyndon Johnson,” all the way back in 1964. ‘Would we conservatives have taken over the party if Goldwater had lost that California primary? Perhaps we had history’s wind at our backs anyway, but I remember being very grateful at the timing of young Nelson Jr.’s [birth]. History is made of such things. If we conservatives sit on our hands this November, as moderates did 44 years ago, will we marginalize ourselves within the party (as the old Romney moderates did)? Or will we be saving the party for the grand old cause? Let’s watch McCain’s next moves.’
That’s Tony Blankley. Essentially, folks, he’s saying the same thing happened in 1964, except reverse it. The conservatives were taking over the party. The moderates got all their nose bent out of joint, and they said, ‘Screw you, Goldwater, and screw you,’ and they sat around, and you know what happened: Reagan goes out, delivers that campaign speech for Goldwater and essentially Reagan took over the party after Goldwater’s landslide defeat. But that gave birth to conservatism as the base of the Republican Party. Jump forward to today, where the moderates are taking back over. They’re trying to take charge. They have. They have succeeded. The moderates in our party pay no price for sabotaging the party. They join Democrats; they come up with legislation that grows government, that places government in charge of everybody’s lives more than ever; spends more money like crazy. I hear McCain talk about being a deficit hawk. You wait ’til you hear how much his global warming plan with Lieberman is going to cost you! It’s far more than Clinton’s proposed carbon tax increase in 1993.
But anyway, I jump ahead of myself. The point is, we have moderates in our party who want to claim they’re conservatives. They are free to jump across the aisle. They get praised for it! They not only get paid for it, they pay no price in their own party for it. So it has changed dramatically. So the question for conservatives now, is the same question that the moderates in San Francisco faced in 1964. ‘Sit out and let these guys die in a landslide and take over, or get involved and unify?’ They sat out, and the conservatives — even in a landslide defeat — took over. So the question is, ‘Do we conservatives sit out?’ and nobody is seriously talking about it. Some people are, but theoretically now. Hypothetically. Do we sit out on the theory that, ‘All right, you guys, you moderates are going to destroy this party. You’re going to change it forever. The conservative base is gone.’ We sit out and have a landslide loss, and what happens then? Does a landslide loss re-empower conservatives or does it, as in ’64, empower losers? And that’s why Blankley says, we gotta ‘watch McCain’s next moves’ to get some sort of an indication.
RUSH: Tom Brokaw, this is on Super Tuesday coverage on NBC last night. He must be a website subscriber. He must subscribe to Rush 24/7 because the last two or three mentions he has made of me, it’s been things that he’s read on my website.
BROKAW: I was looking at Rush Limbaugh’s website today, and he has a picture of John McCain surrounded by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani, and the caption says, ‘It’s pretty plain that John McCain likes to surround himself with liberals.’ Now, I don’t think either Rudy Giuliani or Arnold Schwarzenegger will be invited to be a groomsman at a Jane Fonda wedding. I don’t think that they’re going to fit into that category. We’ve seldom seen the Republican Party, as I’ve been saying this evening, in such disarray.
RUSH: Yes, you have. It’s common. But he thinks I went too far calling McCain a lib.
RUSH: Carl Bernstein was on CNN’s super-duper coverage. Lou Dobbs says to Carl Bernstein, ‘Is the Republican race, in your judgment, over?’
BERNSTEIN: McCain is going to get the nomination ultimately, but the question is, one, what is it worth, what does it mean? And all of these candidates are trying to satisfy Rush Limbaugh rather than the people of the country.
RUSH: (laughter) If they’re doing that — if they’re trying to satisfy me rather than the people of the country — I haven’t gotten the message. (laughter) These guys are just jealous. They just can’t stand it when McCain starts talking about reaching out to conservatives. They just can’t stand it, because it makes them doubt that he really loves them. (sigh) Actually, that’s not it. It’s something else.
RUSH: Washington Post today, Libby Copeland: ‘The Fetching Doggedness Of John McCain.’ This story speculates that one of the possibilities for McCain’s vice presidential running mate will be Mike Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, although the McCain camp says that’s premature. Then there’s a quote here from Neil Rossman, 62, at a Boston rally talk about McCain. ”He looks tired. But I’ll take him as tired.’ It’s a character thing, says Rossman, a Democrat who once vowed never to vote Republican and says that ‘I’d shave my head and move to Burma’ before voting for Mitt Romney. The truth is, Rossman says of McCain, ‘I don’t consider him to be a Republican. … As a matter of fact, he’s almost a Democrat.’ (This is praise McCain does not necessarily want, not while he’s battling a perception within certain corners of the Republican Party that he’s not conservative enough.)’
Back to the audio sound bites, this is Gloria Borger, CNN, Wolf Blitzer, Jeffrey Toobin, they have this exchange about McCain and talk radio.
BLITZER: If, in fact, John McCain does not sort of wrap it up tonight, they will then say, ‘You know what? Our influence among the conservative radio talk show hosts is a lot more serious than some of these Republicans think.’
BORGER: That could be.
TOOBIN: They still have yet to settle on a candidate to challenge John McCain.
BLITZER: Sort of Romney to a certain degree.
RUSH: What they were saying, this is before the results were coming in, they were a little fretful, ladies and gentlemen, that if McCain didn’t wrap it up last night, ‘Uh-oh, might put Limbaugh and his talk radio buddies in the driver’s seat.’ They’re just so jealous. They got all this kind of attention from Clinton, but Clinton never named ’em. They’re just beside themselves. This is Joe Scarborough today on MSNBC or DNCTV. Scarborough with Mika Brzezinski, Tim Russert, Pat Buchanan, have this exchange about me.
SCARBOROUGH: Rush Limbaugh. I think the only person he likes less than John McCain is Mike Huckabee.
SCARBOROUGH: So if you have a McCain-Huckabee ticket, then you’ve got Rush, Hannity, Laura Ingraham going after them. He’s saying, I’ll tell you what —
SCARBOROUGH: You look at George W. Bush winning in 2004. He won because evangelicals, conservatives, Rush Limbaugh listeners stood in line around the block in the rain in places like Pensacola, Florida.
RUSSERT: And Southern Ohio,
SCARBOROUGH: And Southern Ohio. How do Republicans win if people like Rush Limbaugh —
RUSSERT: and those value voters don’t come along?
BUCHANAN: Look, what they’re gonna have to say is, when it comes down to it is, McCain will say to these guys, look, you want Hillary, be my guest, because that’s what you get —
BUCHANAN: — if you don’t get me.
BRZEZINSKI: Exactly. I mean, rigid ideology —
RUSSERT: I tried my very best. I could not unite you.
BRZEZINSKI: Thank you.
RUSSERT: She can.
BRZEZINSKI: Yeah. Here you go.
RUSSERT: Here’s the great uniter.
RUSH: (laughing) Can you believe this? Hillary will be the great uniter. McCain’s going to say, ‘Well, be my guest, vote for Hillary, because that’s what you’re going to get if you don’t get me.’ You think that’s what he’ll say? You think that’s what McCain’s attempt at unity will be? Buchanan knows these players. (doing McCain impression) ‘Be my guest, Limbaugh, go ahead. If you don’t get me, you’re going to get the witch. You know it and I know it. Is that what you want, is that what you want? Go ahead, go ahead, make my day, Limbaugh, make it.’ Will that be the outreach? (laughing) ‘You don’t think I care about you guys, how about Bloomberg? You know Bloomberg. You like Bloomberg.’ No Senator, not Bloomberg. ‘What about Huckabee? I got Huckabee wrapped around my little finger, do whatever I say, whenever. Same thing with Lindsey Grahamnesty.’ Well, it is fascinating to imagine the outreach that will take place. Here’s Bill Bennett last night on CNN. Anderson Cooper says to Bill Bennett, ‘How does McCain make inroads among those conservatives?’
BENNETT: He needs to say the right things, but he also needs to tell people to look at his record. Frankly, I think these folks, and a lot of them are my best friends, need to move a little forward on their own because there’s a kind of Trotskyism going on here, you know, purification of the party.
RUSH: We’re Trotskyites! (laughing) I love this. Incorrect, isn’t it, to say that we want purification of the party? We’re trying to stop the wanton destruction of the party, the wanton dilution of the party. We tried to stop the influx of liberal Democrats into our party as liberal Democrats. Again I ask, what is so magical about being able to reach out to the other side, when you reach out to the other side, you totally agree with them and they get what they want, where’s the courage there? We never hear about them. Hillary and Obama, do they talk about reaching out to us? No, they talk about defeating us. They demonize us. Let’s see. Ah, Karl Rove last night, Rove made his debut as an analyst on the Fox News Channel last night, and Chris Wallace was assigned to ask him the questions to get his analysis, and Wallace said, ‘Okay, a McCain Huckabee ticket, Huckabee as vice president, what would be the politics there?’
ROVE: That’s called doubling your trouble. With people like Rush Limbaugh furious with McCain, I don’t see how it improves it when you pick a person that they’re also furious with, Huckabee.
RUSH: (laughing) You’re probably saying, ‘What’s so funny, Rush?’ I don’t know. Sometimes, folks, you just have to put yourself in my position here, watching this stuff, your name pops up all over the place. With Rush Limbaugh you’re doubling your trouble. With Huckabee, you’re doubling your trouble. All right, here’s McCain’s speech last night, or a portion of it in Phoenix, and I guess we call this the promise that he made to conservatives last night.
MCCAIN: I’m not only running for the highest office in the greatest country on earth, but that I’m also running for the great privilege of leading the party that has been my political home for a quarter-century. I’m grateful for and humbled by the prospect, and I promise you, if I am so fortunate to win your nomination, I will work hard to ensure that the conservative philosophy and principles of our great party, principles that have done so well by the country we love will again win the votes of a majority of the American people and defeat any candidate our friends on the other side nominate.
RUSH: This is the beginning of the outreach. One thing I guess we might be able to assume here, that McCain could say is, (doing McCain impression) ‘Look, you know what I had to do to win this, the primaries. I had to reach out. I had to reach out across the aisle, that’s any nomenclature. I had to do that. I had to get the media support, too. But now that I got the nomination, Limbaugh, now I got the nomination, now it’s pedal to the metal, full speed ahead, 360, full speed conservatism. You can trust me.’ We’re speculating here what the outreach will be. By the way, in the past, Senator McCain said there won’t be any. He’ll take our phone calls and so forth. And, by the way, don’t misunderstand. I don’t sit here and view myself the way all these other people do. I do not picture myself as some potentate, some mullah, some tribal leader, some chieftain demanding a phone call. I honestly don’t see myself this way, ladies and gentlemen.