Radio talker Rush Limbaugh has been sharply critical of John McCain for being too liberal for conservatives’ taste, but Rush says any shift now by the Republican front-runner would be seen as “pandering.”
In an interview with Jay Carney of Time magazine, Limbaugh was asked if there is anything McCain could do to persuade Rush that he’s acceptable.
Rush responded: “I don't think he should even try. He's got to be who he is. I don't think he needs to reach out. His job is not to be acceptable to a single person. I'm not sitting here demanding that. I don't have that kind of sense of power or existence…
“I don't think Senator McCain ought to do anything but be who he is and let the chips fall. Because that's his strength. And if he starts doing anything that appears to be pandering to people, then he's going to lose, I think some — I don't know, respect — but some people are going to question it.
“Because he's never pandered. At least his image is that he's never pandered. He's a maverick. He's out there on his own and he's going to ride the trail wherever it takes him, in the direction he wants to go.”
Rush said that with the general election likely pitting McCain against Barack Obama, “I don’t have to tout McCain, but I certainly will be critical of Obama.”
He added that he would probably continue to hold McCain’s feet to the fire, but said “it’s not personal.”
Limbaugh warned that it would be a mistake for the GOP to rely on liberal Democrats to put maverick McCain in the White House.
“Liberalism to me, based on its history, portends disastrous things for the future of the country,” Rush told Carney.
“I think liberals in a political sense need to be defeated, not accommodated, not reached across the aisle and hugged, not walked across the aisle…
“And I certainly don't want the Republican Party to be redefined by becoming victorious on the basis of a bunch of liberal Democrats being attracted to the party … I'd love to have them if they are converted to our side. But we're missing genuine conservative leadership, so that's not going to happen.”
He also said about his role as the No. 1 talk radio host: “In terms of the content, I just come here and I try to have fun every day. And I'm honest. I don't say outrageous things I don't believe just to get people in a tizzy.”
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