RUSH: Let’s go to the audio sound bites. Fred Thompson showed up for the first time in a Republican debate last night. His appearance was a matter of debate itself among members of the Drive-By Media. But remember the old adage here, folks: 80% of success is showing up on time. So Thompson showed up. He was on time. So he was a success! His people also did something else. They set really low expectations. There was no prepub on Thompson showing up and taking control of the hall and wiping it up with everybody else. They’ve been putting out pretty low expectations and it wasn’t hard for Fred Thompson to meet the low expectations, and even surpass them a little bit. Let’s start with Bob Schieffer on the Early Show on CBS today talking with Harry Smith who said, ‘Here’s this guy, who’s been on television and movies and everything else, he appears… What do you think of the way the guy looked last night? Kind of hunched over. I mean, if an actor is going to become president of the United States, somebody, somebody call wardrobe.’
SCHIEFFER: He needs to get a suit that fits, number one, I think.
SMITH: (choking laughter)
SCHIEFFER: You know, I hesitate to make too much of the cosmetics of this —
SCHIEFFER: — but there is something to be said for looking presidential. You always remember back that nobody ever saw a bad picture of Ronald Reagan.
SCHIEFFER: Ronald Reagan looked like a president.
SCHIEFFER: Yesterday, I don’t think that Fred Thompson looked that way. In the beginning he looked comfortable; he looked somewhat nervous.
RUSH: What’s-his-face, the Breck Girl, does he look like a president or a model? Does Obama look like a president? Does Hillary look like a president? Now, I can understand people saying, ‘Wait a second. This guy has so much experience with Hollywood and acting and making-up properly and presenting yourself the best you can be, and if he didn’t do that, maybe that was strategic. He didn’t want to come off slick.’ Who knows? I have no clue. But I also marvel here at Bob Schieffer. I don’t remember all this praise for Ronald Reagan ‘looking presidential’ back during Reagan’s presidency. What I remember from people like Schieffer is making fun of him. He was a dunce. He hated the homeless. He would sneak into the park across the from the White House at night. He would steal their cans of pork and beans; go back to the White House; open ’em up; eat the pork and beans, and, as he swallowed, rub his belly and go, ‘I’m glad I’m eating these and the homeless aren’t.’ That’s the picture they tried to paint of Reagan. They never tried to paint him as presidential. They painted him as an accident — an accident waiting to happen. Now all of a sudden he ‘looks presidential’ so they can rip into Fred Thompson? Here’s Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America today. Diane Sawyer: ‘Senator Fred Thompson. What about the debate debut?’
STEPHANOPOULOS: He didn’t shine by any means. He was not the star of the show yesterday. He was surprisingly nervous, uh, at the start, but he did find his footing, and he didn’t make any, uh, major mistakes. And he did survive, Diane, what could have been a crippling blow. Senator Thompson has confused the Soviet Union and Russia already on the campaign trail. Had he not gotten that gotcha question right, he would have been in deep, deep trouble.
RUSH: Now, the gotcha question was from Christopher Matthews, and it was, ‘Can you name the prime minister of Canada?’ and Thompson did. So here’s Stephanopoulos talking about what might have been, but that’s irrelevant because Thompson knew who he was! But that could have been a fatal flaw. There’s no such thing as a fatal flaw in a debate that happens at four o’clock in the afternoon on a cable channel, folks. Fred Thompson could have forgotten his name yesterday, it wouldn’t matter, because nobody saw it. It was at four o’clock in the afternoon on a cable channel! Can we get real? Here’s Howard Fineman. We always love listening to Howard Fineman’s comments. He was on Hardball, Chris Matthews, last night. Matthews said, ‘Does Fred Thompson look like he’s enjoying this? He listed all the elements in our society we’re enjoying. Is he?’
FINEMAN: At the beginning he looked like he needed a very large digestive pill of some kind.
FINEMAN: There’s tone deaf and then there’s being oblivious, here. Most of the other Republican candidates conceded — tactically, in one way or another — that the economy needs help in one place or another.
RUSH: Thompson was talking about how robust the economy was, and he was saying throughout our history, even in good economic times, you’re going to have pockets of places in the country that are not doing well, and he cited Michigan because the debate was in Dearborn. Well, Michigan isn’t doing well, and it isn’t doing well for specific reasons that have nothing to do with the US economy! It has to do with the local economy, tax increases, overspending by the governor there, and the legislature. It’s textbook. You know, Michigan is a great example of what the whole country will be if liberals get unfettered, unchecked access to all aspects of government.
RUSH: Now last night during the debate, the Republican candidates did something quite natural. They attacked Hillary Clinton. They were critical of Hillary Clinton’s flip-flopping and her policies and a number of things. Why? Because she is the likely Democrat nominee. This did not sit well with the Drive-By Media. We have a montage here of the Drive-Bys defending Hillary from these vicious attacks at the GOP debate.
BREZINSKI: I kept thinking that Hillary Clinton was there last night.
LAUER: The other candidate who got the most attention last night was not in the room.
HAYES: Opened the debate with an attack on Hillary.
ROBACH: Going after Hillary Clinton.
GEIST: Every answer sort of becomes an attack on Hillary Clinton.
HARWOOD: Bash Hillary.
COLMES: Attack Hillary for changing positions.
DOUGLASS: Hillary Clinton. She’s the one we can easily demonize.
RUSH: Yes, yes, yes. Now, of course, when George W. Bush is routinely savaged during Democrat debates, I don’t ever recall the Drive-By Media getting on their case for attacking somebody who’s not even going to be on the ballot. But here they have to defend Hillary. It’s interesting, folks, because it’s the same old, ‘don’t attack the girl.’ There’s more to this than that, obviously. These people are going to treat Hillary like she’s a queen. They all want her attention. They all want to be invited to the White House, the state dinners, the orgies and the parties that Bill’s going to throw. They want to have all these things, so they want to stay on their good side. So they have to come to her defense as though she can’t defend herself, and they’ve bought into this whole notion that Hillary is a victim, and ‘we’re not going to sit here and let our candidate be besmirched by these Republican meanies.’ Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Rudy Giuliani last night was one of those who was discussing Hillary, and he does the most consistent job in these debates of going after her. Chris Matthews said, ‘Polls also show that voters look now, at least to the Democrats, to handle the economy. How are you going to win back their confidence?’
GIULIANI: The possibilities for America in this global economy are endless, if we don’t put a lid on ourselves. We want to give people freedom. I’ll give you an example. Hillary the other day, remember the Hillary bond program? She’s going to give $5,000 to every child born in America, with her picture on it. (laughter) Okay, right? Okay, I challenged her on it; I challenged her; she has backed off that. She has a new one today. This one is, she’s going to give out a thousand dollars to everybody to set up a 401(k). The problem is, this one costs $5 billion more than the last one.
RUSH: He also said something last night in the debate about health care and this economy. One of the things I love, and I don’t care who does it, is people that tell the truth about this country and how great it is, how unique it is, how wonderful it is, how great the opportunities are in this country, how strong and vibrant our economy is. I love people that have the guts to do this, swimming against the current that seems to have everybody in conventional wisdom wanting to say the economy is on the precipice of disaster. They say it every year. They say it every day if they’re on the Democrat side. And Rudy said, (paraphrasing) ‘About this health care business. What we need to do is fix our health care system, make it the best in the world, and sell it to the rest of the world, and a couple other things in our economy. We need to perfect, get ’em right, better than they are, they’re better now than they have been.’
By the way, somebody had a great joke last night about the biggest problem if we go the Hillary socialized medicine route, what are Canadians going to do for quality health care? Because there will be no difference in our health care and theirs, and they’ll stop coming here for quality health care, and Canadians are going to get sick, and sicker, and sicker, and sicker, and die earlier because they’re going to have nowhere good to go for health care. But I’m telling you, folks, I appreciate anybody who’s willing to be optimistic and positive about this country. It’s so magnetic. It is so redeeming. It’s motivational, it’s inspirational, and it has the added benefit of being true. Let’s go back to Fred Thompson. Maria Bartiromo, the Money Honey from CNBC, said, ‘The economy is America’s greatest strength. In a recent poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News, two-thirds of the American people said that we’re either in a recession or headed toward one. Do you agree with that?’
THOMPSON: I think there is no reason to believe that we’re headed for a recession. We’re enjoying 22 quarters of successive economic growth that started in 2001 and then further in 2003 with the tax cuts that we put in place. We’re enjoying low inflation. We’re enjoying low unemployment. The stock market seems to be doing pretty well. I see no reason to believe we’re headed for an economic downturn. There are pockets in the economy, certainly they’re having difficulty. I think there are certainly those in Michigan that are having difficulty. I think you always find that in a vibrant, dynamic economy. I think that not enough has been done to tell what some call the greatest story never told, and that is that we are enjoying a period of growth right now, and we should acknowledge what got us there and continue those same policies on into the future.
RUSH: Fred Thompson on the economy. By the way, his remark about Michigan led — might have been Romney, I’m not sure who it was — ‘just ignoring Michigan here?’ I forget his line. It was a somewhat funny line. I remember back in the days when the oil price plummeted to ten bucks a barrel back in the eighties, and it devastated the domestic oil market. They had to cap and close some wells here. They could not, at ten bucks a barrel, afford to stay in operation. They capped them forever, and now look at the price of oil. Well, consumers were just doing great, the economy was just humming right along. But the domestic oil market took a hit at those prices. That is what he meant.
Also, Maria Bartiromo asked an economic question of Giuliani. She said, ‘Is London going to replace New York as the financial capital of the world?’ And Giuliani said, ‘Pardon me?’ She said, ‘Is London going to replace New York as the financial capital of the world? If so, what are you going to do to change that?’ And Rudy said, ‘No how, no way, it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen.’ And there was applause in the room. She said, ‘Well, we’re seeing an increased number…’ Giuliani said, ‘Come on.’ ‘No, we’re seeing increased amounts of businesses go to London.’ Giuliani, ‘Stop this stuff with our head down. London going to replace New York? Give me a break. Of course, London’s not going to replace New York.’ ‘Well, the number of IPOs is higher in London in ’07 than in New York.’ (paraphrasing) ‘Is the UK going to replace the United States of America? This is the strongest economy on earth. The last best hope of humanity. We’ve been like that. If this generation can’t keep it that way, shame on us. This country’s the leader of the world. When Congressman Tancredo talks about the immigration problem, how about look at it this way: Why do millions of people want to come to this country? What country are they trying to get into? I don’t care if they bash us all over the world. What country do they most want to come into? What country do they most want to copy? What are China and India trying to do? China and India are trying to develop themselves to be like us, which is we’ve got a heck of a lot that we can sell to them if we just put on our entrepreneurial hats and act like confident Americans.’ This was Rudy talking to Maria Bartiromo.
RUSH: Grab me audio sound bite number nine real quickly here before we go to the phones.
RUSH: I want to play for you the ‘gotcha’ question from yesterday afternoon’s Republican presidential debate. Chris Matthews says to Fred Thompson, ‘Who is the prime minister of Canada?’
MATTHEWS: Okay, tell me about him.
THOMPSON: Prime Minister Harper.
MATTHEWS: What’s your relation going to be?
THOMPSON: (trying to answer)
MATTHEWS: We always ignore that relationship!
THOMPSON: I’ve never met him, but our relationship is fine.
RUSH: (laughing) ‘I’ve never met him, but our relationship is fine.’ ‘Tell me about it.’ Chris Matthews, I think, for some reason has set out to destroy Fred Thompson. Somebody said — I forget, one of the blogs I was reading today was suggesting — that Matthews may have a man crush on Fred Thompson, being facetious with the comment. But, ‘Who’s the prime minister of Canada?’ ‘Harper.’ ‘What’s your relationship with him?’ ‘Well, I never met him but we have a fine relationship.’ (laughing) Stephanopoulos said, ‘If Fred Thompson had blown that question, he’d have been out of the race.’ But he didn’t blow it, George!