Tags: limbaugh | steele | feud

Angry Rush Limbaugh Strikes Back at RNC's Steele

Monday, 02 Mar 2009 06:52 PM

Rush Limbaugh on Monday fired back at critics of his fiery weekend speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, and his biggest target was not on the left.

The conservative talk host saved his sharpest words for Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele. The barbs came in response to Steele's assertion that Limbaugh's challenges to the GOP are "incendiary" and "ugly."

"I hope [Steele] realizes he is not a talking-head pundit," Limbaugh said on his show Monday afternoon in a 20-minute response to Steele's criticism. "It's time for you to go behind the scenes and start doing the work you were elected to do, instead of trying to be some media star, which you're having a tough time pulling off."

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"Why do you claim to lead the Republican Party when you seem obsessed with seeing to it President Obama succeeds?" Limbaugh asked.

In an interview with CNN's D.L. Hughley aired over the weekend, Steele said: ""He's an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh — his whole thing is just entertainment. Yes, it's incendiary. Yes, it's ugly."

Steele took particular issue with Hughley's assertion that Limbaugh had become "the de facto leader of the Republican Party." The RNC chairman insisted that he, not Limbaugh, was leading the GOP.

"Rush will say what Rush has to say. We'll do what we have to do," Steele said.

On Monday, Rush said Steele appears more supportive of President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi than of his own party.

Limbaugh also accused the RNC chair of disloyalty, since he'd appeared as a guest on Limbaugh's show during his failed 2006 Senate run in Maryland.

"My parents taught me when I was growing up that you always stood behind people who defended you, that you never abandon people who stood up for you and defended you against assault," Limbaugh said.

Steele, for his part, is backing down on his comments.

"My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh. I was maybe a little bit inarticulate . . . There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership….," Steele told Politico Monday

He added: "I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren't what I was thinking. It was one of those things where I thinking [sic] I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people … want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he's not."

Asked by Politico if he was apologizing to Limbaugh, "I wasn't trying to offend anybody. So, yeah, if he's offended, I'd say: Look, I'm not in the business of hurting people's feelings here . . . My job is to try to bring us all together."

Much of the dust-up between Rush and some Republicans came after his rousing CPAC speech in which he railed against the Obama administration for spreading fear in order to promote a liberal, big-government agenda. In the speech he repeated his controversial remarks from January that he hoped Obama failed.

"What is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and re-form this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation?" he asked an enthusiastic crowd at CPAC.

"I frankly am stunned that the chairman of the Republican National Committee endorses such an agenda. I have to conclude that he does because he attacks me for wanting it to fail," Limbaugh said on his show Monday.

But not everyone in the GOP was on board with Rush's comments. Joining Steele in his criticism of Limbaugh was House Republican Whip Eric Cantor.

"I don't think anyone wants anything to fail right now," Cantor said during ABC News' "This Week" on Sunday. "We have such challenges. What we need to do is we need to put forth solutions to the problems that real families are facing today."

The RNC, for its part, spent Monday trying to deflect attention from the infighting among conservatives.

"Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats know they lose an argument with the Republican Party on substance so they are building straw men to attack and distract," RNC spokesman Alex Conant said in a statement.

"The feud between radio host Rush Limbaugh and Rahm Emanuel makes great political theater, but it is a sideshow to the important work going on in Washington," Conant said. "RNC Chairman Michael Steele and elected Republicans are focused on fighting for reform and winning elections. The Democrats' problem is that the American people are growing skeptical of the massive government spending being pushed by Congressional leaders like Nancy Pelosi."

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