Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh responded on Monday to comments from Republican strategists Mike Murphy and Steve Schmidt, who have called on the party to “stray away from a vision” that is right out of the conservative commentator's “dream journal.”
The radio personality deflected the criticism, noting that the moderate GOP consultants got the candidate they wanted -- former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney -- and stated that strategists get rich regardless of who wins the elections.
As NewsBusters previously reported, Murphy stated on Sunday's edition of NBC's Meet the Press that “if we don't modernize conservatism, we could go extinct.” He added:
The biggest problem that Romney had was the Republican primary, That’s what’s driving the Republican brand right now to a disaster, and we’ve got to get, kind of, a party view of America that’s not right out of Rush Limbaugh’s dream journal. We've got to look at reality.
Limbaugh responded by asking: “What, folks, did I or any of you have to do with the Republican primary? Did not Murphy get the candidate he wanted?”
The radio host then revealed what he called a “little-known secret.” Consultants often ”get rich no matter who wins or loses. But in the Republican primary, as far as he’s concerned, there were too many conservatives in it saying too many stupid things.
“We need to get rid of conservatism, is what is he’s saying,” Limbaugh added.
Murphy also described the GOP's status in dire terms:
There's a huge donor revolt going on. I mean, look, we have now lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. This is a existential crisis for the Republican Party, and we have to have a brutal discussion about it.
Apparently the consultant didn't examine the winners and losers in recent presidential elections. Moderates like Sen. Bob Dole (1996), Sen. John McCain (2008) and Gov. Mitt Romney (2012) all lost their contests, while conservatives Ronald Reagan (1980 and 1984), George H. W. Bush (1988, riding Reagan's coat tails) and George W. Bush (who ran as a “compassionate conservative” in 2000 and 2004) won the White House.
Limbaugh then turned his attention to remarks made by Steve Schmidt on the previous week's edition of Meet the Press.
To too many swing voters in the country, when you hear the word conservative now, they think of loons and wackos.
Schmidt, who managed Sen. John McCain's failed campaign in 2008, added: “Our elected leaders are scared to death of the conservative entertainment complex, the shrill and divisive voices that are bombastic and broadcasting out into the homes.
“And then when you look at the demographics, who is Rush Limbaugh talking to?” the consultant asked. “He is talking to a demographic that’s white, 65 plus, and rural. It’s not what the country looks like anymore.”
So you have these talk radio hosts making millions and millions and millions of dollars a year driving a message of complete and total ludicrous nonsense into the electorate, a lot of it poisonous.
“Okay, so you people are all white, 65 and over, and you live in the sticks,” Limbaugh responded. “And you are screwing up the Republican Party because you are believing what I say. This is their explanation for having lost.
“It’s quite natural to blame somebody else,” the conservative commentator added. “Obama got away with it. Obama blamed Bush, and he got away with it, people bought it. So now these guys want to blame me. Should I change my name? I’m so disgraced now, should I change my name to Lance Armstrong or [David] Petraeus?”
Limbaugh then summed up his critique of the GOP strategists:
I don’t like saying it at all, but these Republican consultants, all of whom now are trying to blame me for what’s happened, I haven’t run one campaign, and they know it.
“They think they have the strategy, they have the blueprint, they know how to win, though none of them ever do,” Rush continued.
“But then I come along, and I get the public so riled up that I end up getting people to vote in ways against the strategists have convinced their candidates they can make happen,” he noted. “So it’s my fault.”
This clash is the latest example of Limbaugh “taking the slings and arrows” for his fellow conservatives, as he has done during the nearly two decades he's been on the air. It's hard to imagine what the Republican Party would be like without Rush's input and commentary, and that's something I hope we won't see for a long, long time.