RUSH: Now, Charlie Crist was on Hardball last night with Chris Matthews talking about the Republican primary. Matthews said, “So you’re in Tampa, Governor, right now. Suppose it’s next September — late August, actually — nine months or so from now. Imagine Newt Gingrich talking like that at your convention.” I don’t know what he’s referring to here specifically that Newt was talking about, but it may not matter. Let’s see.
CRIST: There is a conservative insurgence, if you will, comments from Rush Limbaugh. I understand he talked about, you know, you need to kind of back off the — the heat and the rhetoric as it relates to Speaker Gingrich. Umm, and we saw Sarah Palin come out, uh, I think this weekend saying that, you know, if you want to upset a liberal, vote for Newt. And things like that. There is a play for Gingrich if in fact he does lose tomorrow in Florida getting to Super Tuesday where you have some other southern states to sort of reignite himself once again. He’s already done it twice.
RUSH: Charlie Crist is saying that there’s a new conservative insurgency out there, people like Sarah Palin and me getting behind Newt. Then, on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS, the editorial director of the National Journal, Ronald Brownstein was on (used to be at the LA Times) and they were talking about the Republican primary. Smiley said, “If I say to you, ‘So Romney wins,’ and then said, ‘So what?’ and the ‘So what’ means that Newt is not gonna go anywhere. He’s told us he’s not gonna go anywhere. So Romney wins in Florida, what of it?”
BROWNSTEIN: You have seen more establishment Republicans like John McCain and Bob Dole rally around Romney in a kind of action-reaction cycle. You’re seeing more of that kind of populist wing and — and — and vanguard conservative wing of the party — whether it’s Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin or Herman Cain — kind of rally on Gingrich’s defense.
RUSH: Yeah. That’s happened. We’ve rallied to Gingrich’s defense. We’ve also ripped Gingrich. They have ripped Gingrich over his attacks on Bain Capital and so forth. There’s more, though. On Scarborough’s show today on MSNBC’s the New York magazine national affairs editor John Heilemann was a guest. The cohost, Mika Brzezinski, said, “You got Newt Gingrich here, who can be villainized. He’s got a great record of things to use against him. Even look at the AD when he looked at the Miami Herald online yesterday. He talks about the housing crisis, how Newt cashed in on that. That’s not untrue, and that’s something that’s gonna touch people here in Florida where the housing crisis is really hit.”
HEILEMANN: There are a lot of people who are angry at the way that Mitt Romney and the Republican establishment have crushed Newt Gingrich in this race, the way they have conducted this race. You’ve seen Rush Limbaugh, you’ve seen Sarah Palin, you’ve seen Herman Cain. A lot of populist, grassroots, conservative leaders who’ve rallied to the side of Newt.
RUSH: It’s fascinating to listen to all these people say I’ve rallied to the side of Newt and I’m out there angry at the way Romney — I’ve got people mad at me because I’m not angry enough at Romney. Gosh, I wish I could use names. You know some of these people. I’ve got people telling me I’m going too soft, that, “If you’re not careful, you’re gonna end up electing Romney. You’re not hitting him hard enough. You’re letting Romney get away with all this garbage on Newt.” And now here come the Drive-Bys, and they are associating me with going to the mat to defend Newt against all this stuff.
Here’s Michael Steele, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, also on MSNBC, Jansing & Co. She said, “How do you deal with this populist grassroots conservative wing –” You see what’s shaping? The Drive-Bys have their narrative here that there’s a populist grassroots uprising and wing of the party and that it’s Palin and me and Herman Cain. This is three different reporters who have lumped me and Sarah Palin and Herman Cain in this populist grassroots uprising, conservative uprising, defending Newt. Maybe this is why I’m getting such hate mail from the Romney people. Well, anyway. She said, “They feel that Romney’s being rammed down their throats and they don’t like Romney. Palin, Cain, Limbaugh, don’t want Romney. And, Michael, what could be done about this?” she said.
STEELE: That’s one of the things that Mitt Romney has got to solve for his campaign, quite frankly. You don’t do that by tearing down someone of Newt’s stature. For good or bad, like him or not like him, you know, he’s played a role in the party, and he has a lot of support behind him. That’s the concern that the Sarah Palins and Rush Limbaughs and others have about the way this process is unfolding. Getting back to my point, it’s time for the adults to step up, run the campaign that’s gonna talk in a visionary way about the future of our country, and leave all the pettiness aside.
RUSH: Okay. So I play you those sound bites to show you there’s a narrative out there that has sprung up, that’s got me, Herman Cain, and Sarah Palin outraged and doing everything we can to fight back at Romney and defend Mitt and so forth. I don’t know how many of you are hearing this for the first time like I am. I just sit here and marvel at it. I don’t know where they get it.
RUSH: Let me tell you what this news media narrative is all about, ladies and gentlemen. I had for you three sound bites: Ronald Brownstein, Michael Steele, John Heilemann. They were almost word-for-word: “Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Herman Cain coming to Newt’s defense, attacking Romney, conservative insurgency, populist conservative insurgency.” Three different guys. Steele, you have to say he’s a media guy, now. He’s over at PMSNBC. So three of them used almost the exact terminology. I said, “What’s this?” Now, admittedly, Sarah Palin has been out there, and she has been saying, “Rage against the machine, vote Newt!” I have never used those words. I have never said, “Vote Newt.” I’ve never said, “Vote Mitt.” I’ve never said, “Vote Rick.”
I’ve never said vote Romney, vote Gingrich, vote Santorum. I’m not playing a trick. I’ve never told anybody to vote for anybody here. Now, the polls indicate that Romney’s gonna win this thing by 10 to 15 points. So what is this all about? I’ll tell you what it is: The narrative tomorrow is going to be, “Limbaugh, Palin, Herman Cain have no influence whatsoever!” They’re lumping me in with all of these ribald, take-no-prisoners supporters of Gingrich. They are very confident Newt is going to lose. I haven’t endorsed Newt. I haven’t told anybody to vote for Newt or for anybody else.
But just like the narrative after Florida in 2008 was, “Well, Limbaugh doesn’t influence anything! For crying out loud, he did everything he could to oppose McCain, and look who won.” So that’s what’s coming tomorrow. That’s going to be the narrative, and that’s why Jonathan Martin sent me the note last night wanting to find out who I was gonna vote for because he is certainly under the impression (or was hoping) that I would tell him I’m voting for Newt. Because that’s what’s being set up here. But then something will happen a week later and I’ll be back to being the kingmaker. I’ll be back to Mr. Big, “the Mr. Big” of vast right-wing conspiracy.
But any opportunity they’ve got to suggest that Palin, me, Herman Cain, “Oh, we don’t matter. Our endorsements don’t carry any weight. We don’t really influence anybody.” That’s what’s coming tomorrow because they’ve lumped me in with that crowd, and I haven’t nearly been as definitive nor forceful as has Sarah Palin. I certainly haven’t endorsed anybody like Herman Cain has done. So here I am the Big Vote on the Right, the Big Cracker on the Right, The Big Voice on the Right — and then tomorrow, the Big Nothing on the Right. That’s what they’re setting up. If I had to bet, if I had to put money behind it, that would be what it is.