President Barack Obama wants congressional Republicans to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh. MSNBC's chief Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell even asked one congressman to take it a step further.
In an interview with House Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Mike Pence, Ind., which aired on MSNBC Jan. 28, O'Donnell referenced the well-known radio host and asked if Pence agreed with him. O'Donnell quoted Limbaugh as saying, "We have to hope Obama succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward whichever because his father was black, because this is the first black president."
"No doubt, you can agree with Rush Limbaugh about that he is calling this stimulus package essentially a sham what's going on, that it's just too full of wasteful spending. But on that specific thing - that we have to bend over because this is the first black president - why don't you feel like you could denounce something like that?" O'Donnell asked.
She questioned the validity of Limbaugh's remark at a time "when America's trying to come together."
"Are you so beholden to someone like Rush Limbaugh that you can't say that that's not the type of rhetoric, when America's trying to come together and do something for the unemployment rate in your state of Indiana - now 8.2 percent - is that the type of rhetoric we need?" O'Donnell asked.
Pence fired back, explaining Limbaugh's comments, and suggested O'Donnell reconsider the premise of her question if she meant to imply that Limbaugh was racist.
"Well look Norah, I don't believe Rush Limbaugh got a racist bone in his body and if you're suggesting that his statement had a racist element to it, I - I would commend you to a, a greater understanding of the positions that he's taken," Pence replied. "He's a man that's about opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race, creed or color. And I think that's why he's so admired and appreciated all across America.
The Indiana congressman told O'Donnell Limbaugh's intent was to stem the tide of "taking America in a new direction," which is now happening with the stimulus bill.
"But look you know, on this stimulus bill, I appreciate Rush's voice out there," Pence continued. "Nancy Pelosi just said on the House floor, and I respect her greatly, she said after defending all the different spending programs in this bill - $136 billion in program spending, she said quote, ‘We are taking America in a new direction.'"
"Norah, I thought we were trying to pass a stimulus bill that in the short-term was temporary and fast-acting and would create jobs in America," Pence said.