Via Mediaite, I think he’s half-joking but he’s right, isn’t he? If Rush moderates, Democrats will see to it that the debate becomes as much a story about him as it is about the field. It’ll be a pretext to revisit last year’s “war on women” crapola, this time in the context of the GOP likely facing a woman nominee in Hillary. Think Progress or Media Matters or whoever will manufacture some sort of “The GOP should boycott the Limbaugh debate!” controversy, and before you know it CNN and MSNBC will be dutifully running “Should the GOP boycott the Limbaugh debate?” segments. Who needs it? Not Rush, not the candidates.
Besides that, it’s a no-win situation for a conservative moderator. The expectation among righties tuning in would be that Rush would/should seek to destroy the RINOs onstage, no? That’s another way in which he’s “too famous” for the event — a huge chunk of the audience would be less interested in hearing the candidates’ views than seeing if Limbaugh himself would punish Christie for hugging Obama and Rubio for backing amnesty. If Rush decides not to do that, opting instead to ask straightforward questions from the right but otherwise declining to be combative with the centrists, grassroots conservatives will grumble that he went easy on the sellouts. If he does decide to be combative, then the debate becomes about him, not about the people running. And it also creates an expectation among conservatives that, having been duly repudiated by Rush in a big forum, someone like Christie can and must be fated to lose. If he ends up winning the nomination anyway, it risks making conservatives feel even more marginalized then they did by the McCain and Romney nominations, and it may also mean that a President Christie concludes that he can safely ignore talk radio going forward. All of which is to say, there’s not a lot of upside here. If Rush wants to quiz any of these people, he can always just have them call in and do it piecemeal that way.
Exit question: If you want a debate(s) with questions entirely from the right, why not have some right-wing think-tankers moderate instead? Get a panel together from Heritage, Cato, FreedomWorks, etc. That would avoid most of the problems mentioned above.