RUSH: Rush Limbaugh behind the Golden EIB Microphone here at our little think tank, the Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies, which exists in large part because of another think tank. A lot of conservatives owe a lot to their existence today, and that would be the Heritage Foundation, which was founded in 1973. The Heritage Foundation came into existence, primarily — there were many reasons — but one of the things, there were simply a number of conservatives in this country outraged at the big government policies of the Nixon administration.
So a gentleman named Ed Feulner, Paul Weyrich, and Joseph Coors got together and founded the Heritage Foundation. Ed Feulner has been the president of the foundation, he’s been with it since the beginning. He joins us here today with the new president of the Heritage Foundation, Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina, who is retiring in January to assume this position. This is a major event in the country and in conservatism, and I’m happy to welcome them both to the EIB Network today to explain it. Gentlemen, hi. Thanks for making some time with us.
FEULNER: Hi, Rush. It’s great to be with you and to be able to announce to you and all your friends this great development at Heritage. This is Ed Feulner.
RUSH: Well, why? What’s happening to make this happen now, Ed?
FEULNER: Well, as you know, about three years ago I told our board of trustees that, “Look ahead, gentlemen and ladies. I am going to be 71, and it is time for us to find a successor, and we’ve gotta find somebody who’s absolutely committed to our firm principles here at Heritage and who knows the sanctity of our research and who can lead Heritage to the next level.” And, boy, have we got that guy.
RUSH: Senator Jim DeMint. Why have you decided to retire from the Senate to take this on?
DEMINT: Rush, it was the Heritage Foundation that inspired me to run for Congress, and many of the policies I’ve developed, whether it be Social Security reform or health care reform, tax reform, Heritage has guided that policy development. And I believe that I can do more good for the conservative movement outside of the Senate in leveraging the assets of the Heritage Foundation to communicate a more positive, optimistic message to the American people.
RUSH: That’s interesting. I assume it would be due in part because the Republicans are a minority in the Senate, and you’ve got a good bench. You’ve got a bunch of young guys that you have had a role in recruiting. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. You’re not really abandoning anything. You’ve got a bench there, but you’ve expressed frustration in the past, the Republicans have, the White House, the House and Senate or two of the three, and didn’t do anything with it that you thought was in any way progress. Is there frustration here as part of this?
DEMINT: Yes, there’s part frustration, but I am also reassured that we have now stocked the Senate with some of the strongest conservatives in the country today, and that’s a big change. So I’m leaving the Senate better than I found it, and I think I can do a lot to support these conservatives inside the Senate and the House working with the Heritage Foundation all over the country to convince Americans that our policies are the best for them. A hundred percent of Americans, whether they’re poor or rich, conservative ideas will make the lives of Americans better, and Heritage has the platform for me to help spread that idea.
RUSH: Tell people how that happens, because a lot of people are thinking, here you are a member of the US Senate. That’s a very exclusive club. There are only a hundred people. It is by reputation the greatest deliberative body in the world. You’re abandoning it or leaving it and you’re telling us that you’re going to have more power, more influence or a greater opportunity for it at Heritage. So what does Heritage do that you can’t do in the Senate?
DEMINT: Well, as you know, Rush, in the Senate a lot of my role has been trying to stop bad legislation and explaining to America why the policies of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party are not good for them.
RUSH: Right, playing defense.
DEMINT: And that’s an important role. But after spending most of my life in advertising and marketing and research, I know that we can do a lot better job of convincing the American people, winning their hearts and souls. And if we do that, then we’re gonna be more effective inside of Congress and more effective at election time. So this is not a matter of getting out the vote. Conservatives have to be so persuasive all over the country that Republicans have to come to our ideas in order to get elected.
RUSH: Well, I don’t want to put anybody on the spot. What are you gonna do differently? I am often accused — not accused. Wrong word. It’s often said to me, “You gotta branch out. You’re preaching to the choir.” What direction are you going to take Heritage in that’s different?
DEMINT: Well, we’re gonna preserve the culture of Heritage and the sanctity of their research to make sure that it is unquestioned throughout our country that the research we do on our policies is accurate, and that’s important to keep that part of the culture. But what we can do differently, Rush, is focus on federalism. We’ve got 25 states now with Republican governors and legislatures. A lot of them are doing the right things, with being right-to-work states, cutting their taxes, whether it’s immigration reform, voter ID, education choice. What we want to do at Heritage is more of what we’ve been doing. And that’s to spotlight the things that are working, promote them in other states, and use those real outcomes to pressure the people here in Washington to pass the policies that let these things work.
RUSH: So you’re gonna have a different and a greater opportunity to work against, for example, Harry Reid, than you’ve had in the Senate?
DEMINT: This may surprise you, but Harry Reid’s a good friend of mine. I just walked into his office and talked to him. The problem is not Harry Reid. I think the problem is, as conservatives, we have not taken enough control of our message and our ideas and communicated them directly to the American people. That’s what we want to do at Heritage is convince the large majority of Americans that conservative ideas will make their lives better.
RUSH: Now, you guys, by definition, are scholars. Ed, I would like you to jump in on this, too. You guys are scholars. You are, in terms of the informed and the educated, you’re in the elite. We live in a country that is influenced considerably by what are now called low-information voters. I would love it if you guys could find a way to penetrate that group and have them understand exactly what it is you do, why you do it, what it is that inspires you, what conservatism is. Is that of any interest to you, or is that something that is not within the realm?
FEULNER: Oh, Rush, that’s so much of interest to where Heritage can go in the future, and that’s why Jim DeMint is such a perfect fit for Heritage Foundation as we move into the new era. First, let me give you a quick quote. “Jim DeMint’s combination of brilliance, principle, common sense, creativity, and, above all else, courage, will be an ideal fit for the conservative movement’s leading think tank.” You know who said that this morning? Ted Cruz. You just mentioned Ted Cruz, and we are so excited that Ted Cruz is gonna be coming up into the Senate.
But back to your point. Yes, people out there need to know how much we care, not just to care about how much we know. They’ve got to know that we really have solutions that will work. Jim DeMint’s background in terms of marketing and focus groups and taking the message that we’ve got and saying, “How can we make this relevant to real people? How can we go back to what Jack Kemp used to be able to tell us about tax rates? How can we move ahead with new arguments in terms of, hey, school choice is really what we need in the inner cities. It’s not so much what we need in the suburbs, it’s what we need in the inner cities. So Jim is gonna be a real breath of fresh air here in terms of how we can reach those new audiences just that you were talking about.
RUSH: What are you gonna do, Ed? Have you ever thought of radio? You have a great voice.
FEULNER: Thank you, Rush. (laughing)
RUSH: You sound a little bit like Ronald Reagan.
FEULNER: Not nearly like yours. I will stay busy. Jim has asked me to stay on and work part time with him and be and I’ll be happy to do that. I’m gonna be out there still preaching the message, but it’s gonna be great to work under Jim’s leadership here when he takes over.
RUSH: Well, congratulations, Senator. I know you’re doing this because you believe in it and you want to do it, and the timing is right. I’ll tell you, folks, for what little it might matter, every speech that I have made at Heritage, Jim DeMint is there. He’s not new to this. I mean, you’ve believed in Heritage for a long, long time. I’ve seen you at every Heritage event I’ve been at.
DEMINT: You’re right. I feel like I’m coming home. I just told that to all the Heritage staff. When I walk in the door here, I’m with like-minded people who care about the cause nationwide, so this is really a homecoming for me.
FEULNER: Rush, one quick anecdote. About seven years ago this bright young freshman senator came over, he said he wanted to have 20 minutes with me, and Jim DeMint came over and said, “Ed, we’ve gotta measure dependency of the individual citizen on the government. We’ve gotta come up with a dependency index.” It was Jim DeMint who dreamed that up and that’s now one of our premiere publications every year. Jim is a real man of ideas, as well as a man of courage in the Senate.
RUSH: Well, I think it’s safe to say Boehner is not forcing either of you guys out, right?
FEULNER: That’s pretty true. (laughing)
DEMINT: It might work a little bit the other way, Rush. (laughing)
RUSH: Okay. Look, thanks both of you guys for your time and the best of luck. Ed, just so you know in case you don’t, we here at the EIB Network value our relationship with you. People, I tell ’em all the time: Reagan was Reagan, and he was in charge, but he worked very closely with you and people at Heritage on policy. You guys are the real thing. The real deal. And it’s an honor to be associated with you, and I’m glad that you had this time for us today.
DEMINT: Thank you, Rush.
FEULNER: Thanks, Rush.
RUSH: Jim DeMint. By the way, Senator, have you told your Republican senators yet of this?
DEMINT: They all know. I’m getting ready to go have lunch with them and explain the reasons. But in this modern age of communication, the tweet has gone out all around the world.
RUSH: Right. Okay. Well, good luck with that, and good luck in the future.
DEMINT: Thanks, Rush.
RUSH: See you then.
FEULNER: Thanks, Rush.