Levin, Hannity, Ingraham and now Nobel nominee Rush Limbaugh (membership req’d): Big talk radio swings unanimously for Mitt Romney. Rush makes several solid points that you’ve heard before, mostly regarding how McCain represents the GOP’s national security wing, Huckabee represents its social conservative wing, and Ron Paul represents the economic conservative wing, but Romney is the one candidate who represents all three by himself. Romney is a late convert to all three, which as I wrote the other day explains why conservatives have taken so long to warm up to him.
Rush also makes a point that conservatives won’t benefit if the GOP expands its base by attracting liberals as liberals to the party. I had a similar thought last night while watching Bill Maher tell Larry King what Republicans ought to do to become more competitive in the future. Never mind Republicans have historically held the presidency more than Democrats over the last 60 years. Never mind that Maher hates Christians and conservatives, so he obviously doesn’t have social conservatives’ interests in mind, and never mind that Maher is not exactly friendly to either economic or national security conservatism. Maher noted that McCain has flanked himself with Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that that trio ought to be the GOP’s future. Of course he would think that: He’s a liberal and so are two of them on at least one of the three major GOP planks and McCain’s maverickness makes him a liberal on some issues. If the GOP becomes the kind of party that attracts leftists like Maher and they remain leftists, what does the party stand for?
Turned around another way, McCain’s supporters make much of the fact that he has a record of reaching across the aisle and working with Democrats. But in every case, he’s reaching across the aisle to do what the Democrats want. Where’s the evidence that McCain has ever reached across the aisle and plucked off a few Democrat votes for a conservative issue or cause? I can’t think of a single case, so I’ll put it to the McCain supporters in the HA readership: Name an issue where McCain reached across the aisle and ended up benefiting conservative issues, ideals or causes.
Here’s Rush’s endorsement of Romney. It remains to be seen if it was too little, too late.
RUSH: I think now, based on the way the campaign has shaken out, that there probably is a candidate on our side who does embody all three legs of the conservative stool, and that’s Romney. The three stools or the three legs of the stool are national security/foreign policy, the social conservatives, and the fiscal conservatives. The social conservatives are the cultural people. The fiscal conservatives are the economic crowd: low taxes, smaller government, get out of the way.
Of course, the foreign policy crowd is obviously what it is. I don’t think there’s anybody on our side who doesn’t care about national security, which is why I found it amazing that McCain gets the bulk of those, because the idea that Romney or Huckabee are going to punt national security? In Huckabee’s case, you might just say the things he’s saying about it represent an ignorance born of inexperience in the subject. I don’t think Huckabee has any deleterious intentions about the country. When it comes to the fiscal side, you cannot say — you just cannot say — that John McCain is interested. He’s even admitted he’s not interested in the social side. He’s not interested in the economic side. He said this, and when he has spoken up about it, he sides more often with liberal Democrats on fiscal issues than he does with his own side. That’s problematic. This is why I think — and why I have said — that the Republican Party, not conservatism, but the Republican Party is in big trouble if it is empowered and gets elected by attracting people who also hold liberal Democrat views simply because they like McCain because of his character, his honor, his prisoner of war story, and they don’t like Hillary or Obama.
Now that Rush has endorsed Romney, his “carrying water” speech in 2006 is being brought up against him. You can “gotcha” anyone who spends 20 years, 3 hours a weekday, giving their opinion on the air, and it’s all too easy to snipe from the bushes at someone who’s willing to take a public stand for or against something. The point he made then remains valid, though: The 2006 Republicans were far from perfect but were better on just about every issue than the Democrats who defeated them and that’s why he supported them. There’s a cautionary tale in that election for Republicans who want to sit out 2008, too.
*Clarification: It’s clear from the above, and from Rush’s longstanding criticisms of McCain, that Rush supports Romney for the GOP nomination. Some commenters here and a reader have emailed that strictly speaking, Rush didn’t endorse Romney. I didn’t hear the entire show yesterday or today, but they say that Rush said that he’s still not expressly endorsing a candidate. Fair enough, though that’s a great deal of nuance to pack into a headline. And then there’s how Rush’s site headlined the article in which he names Romney as preferrable to McCain. Here’s a screencap of that.
That’s on Rush’s site right now. Don’t call me a “liar” for interpreting the clip above plus that headline as an endorsement.
Update (AP): It’s obviously an endorsement, guys. Rush can cover his ass however he likes but his meaning surely isn’t lost upon his listeners.