RUSH: Rocco in Westchester, New York, it’s great to have you on the program, sir.
CALLER: Hey, Rush, thank you for taking my call.
RUSH: Earlier in the show you said McCain is worried because Romney may be too damaged.
RUSH: The fight has been too vicious. The primary fight’s been too vicious and Romney might be too damaged by it, yeah, that’s what McCain said.
CALLER: Well, it was Romney who was the biggest damager of all the candidates. And it was Newt Gingrich who warned everyone early on not to go down that road of negative attacks. He knew the liberal Drive-By Media would just feast on the negativity.
RUSH: Well, a lot of people agree with you that Romney started this in fact back in 2008. If you ever run into Rudy Giuliani, ask him. If you run into Fred Thompson, ask him, because they were the targets of big time Romney money back in 2008. And they’re still angry about some of the stuff that Romney said and did. But that’s politics. A lot of people agree with you that think the damager is Romney. Look, McCain, part of his message was that the Republican campaign no longer sounds reasonable, it’s just descended into too much negativism and name-calling, and this is nothing compared to the Hillary and Obama knock-down, drag-out that took place in 2008. He’s very, very worried, and I think he does speak for the Republican establishment. We’ve heard from a number of places going into the vote yesterday that Republicans are alternately worried that Mitt has to sound too conservative to win and it’s gonna hurt him with independents in the general, or too bloodied up, all this sort of stuff. It’s all incorrect, by the way.
RUSH: Okay, sound bite time. Grab sound bite nine, ten, 11, and 12. This is to buttress the notion that the Republican Party is not all that ecstatic, despite the outcome yesterday. Admittedly, it’s from the Drive-By Media, and once again it’s from MSNBC. Now, the lone source we’ve got of liberal sound bites — I guess that’s actually good news. We get very little from CNN, other than when they do a debate. But up first, F. Chuck Todd last night on MSNBC’s special super-duper primary election coverage, and the cohostette, Rachel Maddow was talking to F. Chuck Todd about the Republican primary, she said, “F. Chuck, we hear from you that there is a panic in the Republican establishment if Romney doesn’t win. Is that true?”
TODD: My own reporting today indicates there has been this finger pointing, if you will, going on among sort of folks outside of Boston who basically look at this campaign and the strategy they’ve been running and saying, “You know what, this is a mistake, don’t just sit here and destroy your opponents. You do have to win over conservatives at some point. You do have to show some leadership skills at some point. And, oh, by the way, you do have to show an ability to organize Republicans in both caucus states and primaries.” There will be a pivot in how this campaign goes about trying to recruit Republicans.
RUSH: Now, that conversation took place before the votes were counted. So F. Chuck Todd, the political reporter talking about his reporting, meaning the stuff people told him, or the facts as he read, however he does it, outside of Boston means outside Romney’s camp, within the Republican Party they’re starting to get a little worried that all Romney’s doing is beating everybody up and that he’s not attracting voters to him but that he is frightening voters away from Santorum and Gingrich. And they’re worried that that is not a good strategery, this is F. Chuck Todd talking. This is not a good strategery for unity down the road. So F. Chuck is saying that there’s panic over the Romney campaign in the Republican establishment. So Scarborough, who was also part of the super-duper election night panel, said, “Okay. Well, what is your take from last night, F. Chuck?” This is this morning now, after the votes are in, and Romney has won, Joe Scarborough asks F. Chuck, “What’s your take now, F. Chuck?”
TODD: Mitt Romney survived. He had another near-death experience. He still hasn’t won rank-and-file conservative voters. That’s still an issue. He probably is gonna have one or two more rough moments where — because he still can’t excite conservatives. That speech last night I thought was just such a missed opportunity. He sat there and he made a case against the president. He still doesn’t know how to make the case for him. If you can’t excite Republicans about you, or conservatives about you, at least have them buy into you, and you still get the sense that he knows not everybody’s bought into him. He’s trying so hard to say, “Look, I’ll be okay. Look, see, watch, I can attack the president.”
RUSH: Uh. Let me think about this. Let me think about this. I need to think about this. It’s the first time I’ve heard the bite. No, I don’t listen to this stuff before I air it. You hear it the same time I do, and I did not watch this last night. So this is the first I’ve heard of it. That’s what’s fun, reacting to it on the fly. I haven’t listened to it. Okay, so yesterday in Livonia, Michigan, Romney was out there saying he was not gonna set his fair on fire in order to get noticed. He was not gonna attack the president. He was not gonna get incendiary in attacking Obama to excite the base. He wasn’t gonna do that. Now, the Drive-Bys are very narrowly focused. They live in tunnels. And when they heard Romney say that, then that set up everything that followed yesterday, including Romney’s speech.
Now, I did see Romney’s speech after he won last night, and I did not have the same take on this speech that F. Chuck does, but F. Chuck’s looking at it through his prism here of Romney saying he’s not gonna attack the base, or he’s not gonna try to excite the base, and what he heard Romney say last night was, “Look at me, I can attack the president, I can do it,” after saying he wouldn’t do it, and F. Chuck’s saying he didn’t bring it off. It didn’t sound genuine. It sounded like he was trying to please the base. Can’t you just make the case for yourself rather than sit there and rip the president. So obviously F. Chuck thinks that what Romney was doing was trying to excite the base last night in his acceptance speech or his victory speech.
When I watched Romney’s speech, you know what I thought it was? It sounded to me like an acceptance speech. It had the tone, the tenor, the language of somebody who is accepting the nomination. That’s how it came off to me. But I have a much broader tunnel in which I hear and see and view things than F. Chuck. Steve Schmidt, who ran McCain’s campaign, was also on MSNBC’s special super-duper primary election coverage last night. And Chris Matthews said to him, “He’s not gonna be bossed around, Romney, he’s not gonna be bossed around by staff or press people. It’s obvious now, Steve, he’s gonna run out there, he’s gonna be himself, he’s gonna do whatever he wants to do.”
SCHMIDT: Unless you’ve gone through this, it is as physically and mentally demanding as an experience that I think almost anyone could have. And I wonder if he’s tired, whether he’s not getting enough rest, but when you have these statements pile on top of each other like they have with him, they create a narrative that’s been really terrible for him, which is that he’s no better than these other candidates in a race against Obama. The chances of Mitt Romney winning versus Obama are no greater or less great than Rick Santorum. And of course that’s not true.
RUSH: Okay, now, let’s see if we could follow that. Romney’s tired and therefore saying not smart things, which are giving you idiots out there the impression that he’s not more electable than Santorum, which guys like Steve Schmidt know he is because they’re the experts. They know Romney’s much more electable but they’re frustrated. Mitt Romney can’t bring it off. Now, this is before Romney won. We went back to last night. But they’re still puzzled. Why can’t this guy do it right? Why can’t this guy bring it off? If I’m Romney, “What do I have to do to please you people?” If I’m Romney, “I won this thing. I led this thing, what do I have to do?” It appears that no matter where you look there’s some people… I guess the establishment is what we’ve heard is true, getting nervous.
And let’s see. One more. David Brooks from the New York Times. Where was he? Ah, we have something other than MSNBC. He was on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Oh, wait, Jim Lehrer retired, didn’t he? Did Jim Lehrer retire? That’s too bad. I don’t get to say The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer anymore. Ah. Darn it. So it’s The NewsHour with Gwen Ifill. By the way, I saw a quote from Gwen Ifill today. This is pretty indicative, too. She was very happy. She was thrilled and excited when she learned that Jon Stewart watches her show. That made her day. She was saying, (imitating Ifill) “Yeah, Jon Stewart listens to me. Jon Stewart watches my show.” That’s what she said, Snerdley, that’s what she said. Everybody’s got their own standards. Judy Woodruff was the fill-in coanchor on The NewsHour on PBS talking to David Brooks. She said, “When we hear Romney today again taking some responsibility, saying, ‘Well, if I were willing to make incendiary comments, if I were to light my hair on fire, I might be doing better,’ what does that mean?”
BROOKS: That’s another mistake. You don’t say, “Ah, these Republican voters are so crazy, if I would light my hair on fire they’d be impressed.” You don’t — A, politicians should never use the word “the base,” because it’s your voters, they’re not the base. And second is, it denigrates the voters. It’s a sign of his awkwardness. There’s been awkwardness. “I have a lot of great friends who are NASCAR owners.” There’s just been a constant stream of the mini-gaffes.
RUSH: Mini-gaffes. Never forget, now, folks, in the Republican establishment, Romney was their guy. Romney’s the only guy that could beat Obama. Romney’s the only guy that had any chance whatsoever. Has Brooks not seen the crease in Romney’s slacks? Is that the problem? Maybe Romney needs to go to sit-down with Brooks and have freshly pressed slacks on. Get ’em right out of the dry cleaners, put ’em on right before the interview and sit there, cross his legs the right way so Brooks couldn’t help but notice the crease. And then that’s how you get his approval. That’s how you get the support of Brooks. You gotta have the right crease in your slacks. (interruption) That’s true, Romney’s wife yesterday said she wanted to strangle the news media. She said if she could just strangle the news media. Then they said, “Oh, she’s just kidding. She’s just gonna disinvite some of them from the bus.” That’s right, she’s gonna disinvite some of the media people from the Romney bus. A Cadillac bus, maybe it’s a Ford truck. It was a made-in-Detroit bus, by the way, too.
Here is Sue in Manchester, Connecticut. Welcome to the EIB Network. Great to have you here.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. Thanks for taking my call. I was calling because just looking at Massachusetts in the past probably 30 years, any social conservatives that were running as governor — or Senators, actually — have never been elected as a social conservative. And, you know, it just seems like for the whole country to have someone running and to get elected, they don’t get elected unless they are social conservative for Republicans. But in Massachusetts, just looking back 30 years, there haven’t been any.
RUSH: So in Massachusetts social conservatism loses but everywhere else it wins, is that your point?
RUSH: And so that means what?
CALLER: Well, you know, Massachusetts is like the California on the East Coast.
CALLER: And if you were a social conservative, you wouldn’t even run. You wouldn’t get elected.
RUSH: Are you trying tying this to Romney somehow?
RUSH: Oh. So can’t hold it against him because he had to run in Massachusetts, is that what you mean? I’m just trying to understand.
CALLER: Well, he probably ran in Massachusetts because he could get elected not as a social conservative but as more, you know, fiscally conservative.
RUSH: Well, let me give you some stats ’cause you’re instincts are right here, at least nationally. Jeff Bell. “The rise of the culture wars in national politics dates from the social unrest of the late 1960s. Since that time, Republicans have won 7 of the last 11 presidential elections. This came on the heels of the New Deal era of economic-centered elections (1932-64) in which social issues were absent and Republicans lost the presidency 7 of 9 times. Let’s drill down a bit further. In the post-Reagan era, social issues took on a high profile in two of the last six national elections: 1988 (furloughs, ACLU membership, Pledge of Allegiance) and 2004 (judicial imposition of same-sex marriage). These also happen to be the only two elections in which Republicans won a popular-vote majority. It’s not a coincidence.” Social issues, presidential races. That’s the numbers. It’s Jeff Bell and his new book is “The Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism.” He’s a former Reagan staffer and some other things.