RUSH: We have Jeb Bush endorsing Mitt Romney about an hour ago, which is not a surprise. Not a surprise. You might infer from this that the establishment’s coalescing behind Romney. Some might draw that inference. I think it’s probably accurate. The big news is that Romney won the Illinois primary by 12 points. The turnout is reported to be about 24%, which would make it the lowest turnout from a presidential primary in the last 70 years, but that was before the Jeb Bush endorsement. The Jeb Bush endorsement might have goosed the primary turnout just a bit. You never know. It could have really lighted a fire there under the Republican base.
Here’s the delegate situation: There’s a total of 1144 delegates that one needs. Percentage-wise Romney needs to win 45% of the outstanding delegates to wrap this up; Santorum needs to get about 70% of the outstanding delegates. Romney’s speech last night was his best. Romney’s victory speech last night was his best, and it reminded me again of Daniel Henninger’s column last year in the Wall Street Journal, which said that Romney was going to have to be nudged to the right. And he was clearly nudged to the right.
He spoke about the economy and Obama’s stewardship of it, and it was really good. We have some examples of it, and as I listened to Romney talk about Obama and his stewardship of the economy, I really had to laugh. We just had (and I talked about this yesterday) a cartoon of a made-for-TV movie about how incompetent Sarah Palin is. Meanwhile, we have Obama as president for the last three-and-a-half years redefining incompetence. And Romney pointed that out last night in his victory remarks. It wasn’t a big crowd, either, at the Romney victory celebration. But, nevertheless, he was there, and he was wound up. I think it was his best to date.
RUSH: Mitt Romney last night in Schaumburg, Illinois, at his campaign headquarters after his win in the Illinois primary. And I just want to remind you that not long ago you were calling, writing, “Rush, this long Republican primary, it’s killing us! Because none of these guys are any good and they’re incompetent and it’s just killing us. And the press is beating them up.” I said, “No, no, no, no. No, no, no. A long primary is fine. It’s a great vetting process. It’s the rules anyway. There’s no changing it midstream now. It’s conservatism on display, and whoever wins this is gonna have to nudged to the right in order to win it.”
And that is happening as evidenced by Romney’s acceptance speech last night. And remember, it was Daniel Henninger and his Wall Street Journal piece last year who pointed out that Romney doesn’t naturally reside in the conservative right, but he’s gonna have to be nudged there. And this long primary process has done that, at least as far as Romney’s public statements. What he really thinks, we’ll find out. In fact, Cookie, did we ever get that CNN sound bite that I asked for this morning? Is it at the bottom of the news stack? Okay. I’ll find that. Here comes Romney from last night. See what you think of these.
ROMNEY: The simple truth is that this president doesn’t understand the genius of America’s economy or the secret of the American economic success story. The American economy is fueled by freedom.
ROMNEY: The history of the world has shown that economic freedom is the only force that has consistently lifted people out of poverty. It’s the only principle that has ever been able to sustain prosperity. But over the last three years, this administration has been engaged in an all-out assault on our freedom.
RUSH: The crowd ate it up. We hope he means it. Watching it last night, that’s how I reacted: “This is good. This is good.” I turned to Kathryn and said, “This is his best victory speech yet. I just hope he means it.” Here’s the next bite…
ROMNEY: Under Barack Obama, those pioneers he mentioned would have faced a very difficult time trying to innovative and invent and invest and create and build jobs. You see, under Dodd-Frank, they would have found it almost impossible to get a loan from their community bank. And, of course, the regulators would have shut down the Wright Brothers for dust pollution.
ROMNEY: You know? (chuckles) And of course the government would have banned Thomas Edison’s light bulb. Oh, by the way, they just did, didn’t they? Right now! Yeah.
SUPPORTERS: (cheers and applause)
RUSH: I mean, it’s right there. Even the people on the other side of the glass here at the EIB Southern Command are smiling and laughing at this. That’s dead-on right. “[R]egulators would have shut down the Wright Brothers for dust pollution [and] the government would have banned Thomas Edison’s light bulb. Oh, by the way, they just did.” Here’s the next one…
ROMNEY: Every great innovation, every world-changing business breakthrough, begins with a dream, and nothing is more fragile than a dream. The genius of America is that we nurture those dreams and the dreamers. We honor them. And, yes, we reward them. That’s part of what’s uniquely brilliant about America. But day by day — job-killing regulation by job-killing regulation, bureaucrat by bureaucrat — this president is crushing the dream and the dreamers, and I will make sure that finally ends.
SUPPORTERS: (wild cheering and applause)
RUSH: Right on. Right on. Right on. So maybe the conservative alternative to Romney is Romney. Let’s hope so. It all boils down to whether he means this. It’s that simple. Here’s Santorum talking about this. In fact, Santorum last night at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, said he was glad to see Romney moving to the right.
SANTORUM: Whether it’s in the economy, whether it’s in the budget crisis that we’re dealing with, it all boils down to one word, and that’s what’s at stake in this election, and it’s right behind me on that banner and that’s the word “freedom.”
SANTORUM: I was pleased to hear before I came out that, um, Governor Romney is now adopting that theme, uh, as his speech tonight. I am… I am glad we are moving the debate here in the Republican Party.
RUSH: Well, he’s right. If he wants to give himself credit for it, let him take it. Somebody’s moving Romney in that direction. And Romney’s willingly going there. Now, I know some of you Romney supporters are asking, “What do you mean ‘if he really means it’? Why do you have to compliment him and then dump on him?” Well, because of what’s next here. You have to hear this. It’s on CNN this morning on their program called Starting Point. The guest is Romney senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom.
And they’re having a discussion about Romney’s positions in the Republican Party, and one of the panelists says, “It’s fair to say that McCain was a considerably more moderate candidate than the ones that Romney faces now. Is there concern that the pressure from Santorum and Gingrich might force Romney to tack so far to the right that it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general?” So the question is: Okay, yeah, he definitely sounded conservative last night. Is he sounding too conservative? (This is a typical left-wing media question.) Is he too conservative? It could hurt him with the precious moderates!
Listen to the answer from senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom…
FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you hit a reset button, uh, for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again. There is a — a growing recognition within the Republican Party that Mitt Romney is gonna be the nominee, and there’s two reasons for that. The first is people see in him, uh, the capacity, uh… of someone who can lead on the economy. And secondly, they see someone who can defeat Barack Obama.
RUSH: Okay. Uh, you hit a reset button for the fall which means it’s a new election. Once we win the primaries and nomination, then we go to the general and it’s like an Etch-A-Sketch. We kind of shake it up, start all over, and you can erase everything. And people hear that and say, “Well, okay. Romney’s own campaign is saying what he said last night, ‘It’s just part of getting the nomination. We’ll wipe it out when we get into the general. Don’t worry, we’ll do the right things to get the moderates.'” That’s what this guy’s saying, and that’s why people are saying, is it would be great if Romney believed it last night. That’s all. You heard it.