To: Rush Limbaugh
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Down and Dirty
Good show Monday, Rush. It's not often I'm riding around at mid-day and can tune you in, but I did yesterday and smiled throughout. It was the McCain segment that I caught where you read from a Boston Globe piece about today's meeting in Pittsburgh between George W. and John. Wish I had a transcript -- it had you so worked up -- with the political reporter wondering if McCain would play nice, as if W's path to the White House would be blocked if he didn't. My guess is that you definitely do not think McCain should be W's running mate, given the attention you gave to Pat Robertson's comments on Sunday's Meet the Press. It reminded me of the fights the Democrats used to engage in when I was growing up -- but now have put aside in the interests of party unity. The joke was... "I'm not a member of any organized political party. I'm a Democrat." Of course, they used to win all the elections back in those days. The down and dirty dogfights are now among the Republicans, which may mean Bush may win and bring in a GOP Congress for the first time since 1952. Here is the exchange between NBC's Tim Russert and Pat Robertson that you enjoyed so much -- as did I. This is great stuff. I'll have a comment later.
MR. RUSSERT: Before you go, Pat Robertson, your good friend, John McCain, is having a summit meeting in 48 hours with George W. Bush.
MR. ROBERTSON: Wonderful.
MR. RUSSERT: I want to show you something that John McCain said in your hometown and give you a chance to respond.
MR. ROBERTSON: OK.
(Videotape, February 28):
SENATOR JOHN McCAIN (Republican, Arizona): I am a Reagan Republican who will defeat Al Gore. Unfortunately, Governor Bush is a Pat Robertson Republican who will lose to Al Gore. Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right. We are the party of Ronald Reagan, not Pat Robertson.
MR. ROBERTSON: Oh, he's such a nice man. Tim, I was down in Puebla, Mexico, with the Flying Hospital on a humanitarian meeting, and I was meeting with President Zedillo of Mexico, and we had a marvelous meeting about how to help the poor of Mexico. And I got a flash on the wire that he'd come to my hometown. And when that happened, I had one reaction, "He just lost the primary." Indeed, the evangelicals voted 8:1 against him in Virginia and in the state of Washington, and on Super Tuesday, every state that had at least 15 percent or more evangelical voters went overwhelmingly against McCain. He imploded, I believe Washington Post said, as a result of that statement. See, he was in Virginia Beach. And it was through my efforts and my associates that the delegation to the General Assembly of Virginia went Republican for the first time since the Civil War. So he was coming into a state where we had just elected a Republican governor, a lieutenant-governor, attorney general and had taken control of the Legislature for the first time in history. And he not only attacked me, he attacked our Governor Jim Gilmore and he attacked John Warner, who I served in the Marine Corps with. So, I mean, he went after everybody. And Warner said he launched a heat-seeking missile up his own tailpipe, and I think that's a fair statement of what happened.
MR. RUSSERT: Would you find him acceptable to be vice president?
MR. ROBERTSON: It's not up to me to decide. I think it's up to George W. Bush. But I was saying to the folks back in the greenroom -- I said, "If Bush would like to have somebody screaming curses at him about three times a week at the other end of the White House, then McCain is his man." I think other than that, if he wants harmony in his official family, I think he might look elsewhere.
MR. RUSSERT: But you told Newsweek you'd be very concerned with McCain being one heartbeat away.
MR. ROBERTSON: I would be very concerned. I would. I don't want to get into character assassination. He's been through enough in this procedure, but I don't think he would make a good president. And I won't go into any further details but I have enough information that indicates that we need somebody with his hand on the nuclear trigger and on other levers of government...
MR. RUSSERT: Whoa, whoa, whoa, what are you suggesting?
MR. ROBERTSON: I'm suggesting we need somebody who wouldn't go into a man's hometown and make extreme statements like that on the spur of the moment. This is a very dangerous -- can you imagine dealing with our foreign powers and you get mad and you fly off the handle? It could be very dangerous. And I'm serious. It would be very dangerous. And I think we should have balanced leaders. And...
MR. RUSSERT: Are you suggesting John McCain's not balanced?
MR. ROBERTSON: I'm suggesting what he said about me was intemperate, to say the least, and it was highly ill-advised to come into my state and attack the governor, to attack the most prominent United States senator and two prominent religious leaders when he was trying to get votes. It was just not a very intelligent thing to do. But as we said, we're supposed to love our enemies and do good to them -- but I also don't have to vote for him for vice president.
MR. RUSSERT: Could you accept Governor George W. Bush selecting a pro-choice running mate like Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania?
MR. ROBERTSON: I personally could probably accept it, but I don't think the same group of people -- you're showing that percentage -- I don't think the evangelicals and many of the conservatives and the pro-life people in the Republican Party would be happy with that, and Bush might lose support. And I don't think it would be a wise choice for him.
* * * * *
You put your finger on it during the show, Rush. Suddenly, for the Rev. Pat Robertson, a leader of the Christian Coalition, a pro-life John McCain is less acceptable than a pro-choice Tom Ridge. I agree completely. Ridge's chances of being Vice President are much improved. Sometimes down-and-dirty dogfights are more useful than party unity.