In a meeting with congressional leaders from both parties last week, President Obama told the GOP members that “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.” As expected, Limbaugh responded to the presidential mention of his name with his usual bluster, stating, “I think Obama wants me to fail.”
During his rant on Monday, Limbaugh also turned his fire on Republican leaders in Congress, claiming that Obama was “more frightened” of him than them:
LIMBAUGH: He’s obviously more frightened of me than he is Mitch McConnell. He is more frightened of me than he is of, say, John Boehner, which doesn’t say much about our party. I mean, to tell you the truth, folks, if the president is a little more worried about somebody on the radio than he is about somebody on Capitol Hill … I think Obama wants me to fail, there’s no question.
Despite conservatives’ tendency to follow and defend Limbaugh, some prominent Republicans are backing away from the divisive hate radio host.
On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Monday, Boehner denied that his ideas came from Limbaugh, saying, “I like Rush, but, he’s a talk show host, and I’m in the policy-making business.” In an interview with Politico yesterday, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said Limbaugh was just throwing “bricks” while “living well” in his radio studio:
“I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party.You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of thing. But when it comes to true leadership, not that these people couldn’t be or wouldn’t be good leaders, they’re not in that position of John Boehner or Mitch McConnell.”
Some Republicans are even saying that Limbaugh is a negative influence on the party. Speaking to the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, former McCain adviser John Weaver called Limbaugh one of “the most controversial voices on the extreme right,” adding that it is dangerous if he is perceived to “speak for all members of the center/right movement.”
Despite their newfound rhetorical distancing from him, congressional conservatives still appear to be taking orders from Limbaugh when it comes to action in Congress.
Following a “high volume of phone calls and correspondence,” Gingrey is now backing off his criticism of Limbaugh, releasing a statement calling him one of “the voices of the conservative movement’s conscience.”