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Do Huckabee And Mccain Have Rush Problems?

David Brooks on "Jim Lehrer" yesterday thought so:

The big problem Huckabee faces -- McCain`s, also -- is Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh all week has been on the warpath against Huckabee and McCain as people who are not real Republicans. He says they`re drawing independents, they`re drawing Democrats, they`re breaking up the Reagan coalition. He calls them Jell-o people, because they`re soft and squishy.

And there are a lot of people who listen to Rush Limbaugh, and a lot of talk show hosts repeat what Rush Limbaugh says. And so that -- he has been a very pro-Romney force in the past week. And it`s bound to eat into Huckabee, because there are a lot of Republican primary voters who listen to Rush Limbaugh.

Brooks is onto something, but not as much about Huckabee as about McCain. Listening to El Rushbo for much of the afternoon on a drive down here, it was true that Rush all but endorsed Romney, approvingly playing a few Mitt clips and letting a female caller who described herself as "smitten with Mittens" essentially give a Romney campaign commercial on air. McCain, on the other hand, was endlessly derided as somebody who doesn't seem to like conservatism, somebody out to undermine the Republican party by angling to invite too many anti-Gitmo, pro-amnesty liberals into it. (The "Jell-o people" actually referred not to candidates but to moderates, a word Rush utters with a sneer.) The critique of McCain as overly self-righteous about his appeal to moderates plays especially well in South Carolina, where many Republicans I talk to speak of "remembering 2000," and by "2000" they mean not the black baby smear but McCain's big f you to Jerry Falwell.

If McCain is dangerous, according to Rush, then Huck is a joke. The substance of Rush's critique of Huck amounted to playing this clip, in audio, several times: 


Who's really turned off by this squirrel thing, though? The 3 South Carolinians who have ever fried a squirrel will love it. Those who are considering Huckabee will probably find it charming, as it represents his whole stylistic oeuvre.

-- Eve Fairbanks