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RUSH: Two big stories happened over the weekend. I think probably you’ve heard about both of them. The Robert Novak story about how the Clinton campaign has some really scandalous information on Obama, but that they’re not going to release it. They just did! By saying they’ve got it, they just did. Of course, the Clinton campaign went nuts, denying the whole thing. Obama really reacted as though he believed it. I don’t know whether the Clintons did it, but there are patterns with the Clintons and they do things, they’ve got a history: five hundred FBI files. Novak is not known to make things up. Now, when you hear a story like that, it is eminently believable. (interruption) Was it 900 FBI files? Oh, 900. I thought it was 500 FBI files. Well, I can’t be expected to remember everything. It was 500. Now I’m being told it was 500. Now the staff is in an argument. You guys settle it. It doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t surprise me. You have to understand, Mrs. Clinton is not the universal choice of the entire Democrat Party, and Novak has said (paraphrased), ‘Hey, I didn’t talk to any Republicans about this. This information came strictly from Democrats.’ So it’s quite possible somebody put it out just to stifle the Clinton campaign and to create the kind of furor that has resulted.

Also great work by a blogger, Doug Ross at Journal, has revealed that every question during the last Democrat debate in Las Vegas — every question — when they went to the real people and the registered Independent voters, they were all Democrat staffers or plants. They were a Democrat Party bigwig, an anti-war activist, a union official, an Islamic leader, a staffer, an intern for Dingy Harry. She’s the one that asked the question about the diamonds or pearls, and then later she went to her MySpace page and said (paraphrased), ‘I didn’t even want to ask that question, but they made me ask that question because they didn’t have much time left.’ So CNN was scripting it. The whole thing was a Clinton setup job, and everybody has this suspicion about CNN. More details on that in just a second.

Let’s go to the audio sound bites and start out here with Novak. I wonder if the Democrats are going to end up blaming Scooter Libby for this story. This is ‘Fox & Friends’ this morning, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade are talking to Novak, and Doocy said, ‘Hey, Bob, what did you write? What caused such a reaction?’

NOVAK: I wrote that the Clinton campaign had injected into the Democratic political bloodstream a report that they had derogatory, scandalous information about Barack Obama but were not going to put it out because it would hurt the Democratic Party and probably hurt Senator Clinton, if that information was out. My source, who is a well-known Democrat but neutral so far, but they thought he should know about this information. I then checked with another source who is neutral and said he had heard the same thing from Clinton, Clinton people. This was very similar to the kind of tricks that Richard Nixon used to pull where he would say —

RUSH: I love that.

NOVAK: — I know some very bad information about the communists supporting George McGovern but I can’t put that out because it wouldn’t be right, but I’m just too good of a guy. Now, whether there is any such scandalous information, I don’t know. What I know is I’m confident of my sources, who I trust, we’re told this by Clinton people that there was such information out.

RUSH: Of course, there’s information! To doubt that the Clintons have this kind of information, they have it on everybody. What’s interesting is I don’t think the Clintons would actually be the ones to say it. I think they let their opponents know in more subtle ways that such information exists. This is clearly — the more I think about it — somebody trying to cast aspersions on the whole Clinton camp. By the way, there’s new polling data, or soon will be polling data out that shows she might lose Iowa, which she can withstand, by the way. She can withstand an Iowa loss. It’s ABC that’s coming out with a poll I think today. Next question, Brian Kilmeade said, ‘All right, those who say this is a Republican plot to get Democrats to fight each other, what’s your reaction to that?’

NOVAK: I haven’t talked to a single Republican on this. This was all strictly Democrats. That is a — the whole method of the Clinton campaign is when anything derogatory comes up, they say the Republicans are spreading it, but there was no Republicans involved in my reporting on this.

RUSH: Well, it can’t be Scooter Libby, then, and it can’t be Armitage. So yesterday in Marion, Iowa, Barack Obama was at a news conference accepting the endorsement of a regional chapter of the United Auto Workers, and afterward, a little montage of his remarks about Novak’s column.

OBAMA: The Clinton campaign didn’t come out and — and, uh, deny initially. I mean, it would have been great if we’d just sat back and they indicated it wasn’t true. I think it is very important to send a clear message that whether it is coming from our party, the other party, third parties, 527s, that our campaign will not tolerate this kind of slime politics.

RUSH: Now, do you realize Obama got ripped by the media for reacting to this? What’s he supposed to do? Sit there and beg for more? Here’s a sample. This is Ron Brownstein on Meet the Press yesterday. Tim Russert said, ‘Yesterday, Novak had a column with the headline: ‘Hill Shills Hint at ‘Bam Slam,’ suggesting that there is scandalous information about Obama agents for Hillary have been passing around, but not using against the campaign. Clinton campaign said absolutely untrue, but it played out all day long. What do you make of it?’

BROWNSTEIN: I’m a little surprised that the Obama campaign picked up so much on an unsourced Bob Novak column. Bob is a great reporter, been here for a long time, traditionally sources stronger in the Republican than the Democratic Party, and I think it’s just like a sign of how eager both sides are, I mean not a leaf will fall in the forest between now and Iowa and New Hampshire without Obama and Edwards looking for a way to make this into a contrast with Hillary Clinton because that is ultimately what you have to do against a front-runner. The primaries, as crazy as they are, ultimately show us what is in the spine of these candidates, and I think this is the time of testing for Clinton, that she really hadn’t had before. You know, I continue to marvel at the way the Drive-Bys view events. There’s such a disconnect between the Drive-Bys and the rest of America. Here’s Gwen Ifill following up with Brownstein. This is on Meet the Press yesterday.

IFILL: What made it curious, of course, was the ferocity of the response. The Obama people say listen, we’re just not going to take it and it’s time for us to say, yes, we’re not going to take it. There have been whispering campaigns out there about us before about madrases and we’re not going to let it pass this time of course because the stakes are higher. The Clinton people say A, they didn’t do it, they used words like umbrage, how dare they suggest that Hillary would do a thing, and then they go to say, get this, they started it, so there’s this kindergarten stuff going back and forth, but Obama is right. What’s underneath it is this incredible bitter, high-stakes battle, which I think is just beginning to engage.

RUSH: That is a good point, and that’s exactly right. Go back to Karl Rove’s story. Mrs. Clinton is not warm; she is not friendly; she does not respond to criticism. Obama tells a story that when they were on the Senate floor and he was announcing or getting ready — or maybe he had announced, I forget which, his intention — to run for president, and he tried to grab Mrs. Clinton’s elbow and arm and walk her down and give her a little wink, and she pulled away and didn’t want to have anything to do with him, because he had just become the enemy, and Obama got on the phone, called a friend, said, ‘You won’t believe what just happened with Hillary.’ The idea that she needs to be battle tested is absurd, a novice candidate; she’s never been this exposed before. That may be true, but she’s not a novice at anything.

By the way, the Wall Street Journal today has a special section on 50 women to watch. Fifty women who have risen to the top, and they did it the hard way, they earned it. Number-one woman to watch: Angela Braly, president, chief executive, of WellPoint. She did not marry the former president to get the job. Number-two woman to watch: Indra Nooyi, chairman, chief executive, PepsiCo. She did not marry the former president to get the job. Number three: Neelie Kroes, antitrust chief, European Union. She did not marry the former president to get the job. Number four: Zoe Cruz, co-president, Morgan Stanley. She didn’t marry the former president to get the job. None of the 50 women to watch in the Wall Street Journal married the former president in order to get their jobs at the top of the heap. Mrs. Clinton will never be able to say that.

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