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RUSH: Believe me, the safest thing to do would be shut up about it. Oh, yeah. I mean, everything in my gut says don’t even go there. But I… This is a strange day, folks. I have felt constrained — well, partially distracted — by my battery life problem all day long. Ah, don’t even get me going. I’m just so dispirited about that I can’t convey it to you. Anyway, I’ve been asking Snerdley, I’ve been asking all of you guys, “What do you think the possibilities are that Trump shows up tonight before it, during it, whatever?” Everybody’s pooh-poohing it.

“Nah. Rush, he’s got this event at CNN. CNN’s carrying the thing with the troops. They’re announcing it’s sold out. They’ve got Huckabee showing up; Santorum says that he’s gonna be there.” I hear all that. I’m just telling you. Probably makes no sense to say this, ’cause it’s just kind of thing to come back and bite you, but I’m just telling you… (interruption) No. Oh, he’s not gonna be (laughing) in two places at the same time, unless the CNN things ends up being 10… No, I think… Folks, I don’t think this is a possibility. My gut’s telling me, this isn’t over.

There are other shoes that are gonna drop here. I have told you, we’re watching the way Trump negotiates. This is happening in public. The walking out, the telling Fox to pound sand, “I’m not showing up,” the O’Reilly begging him to come back, to forgive Megyn Kelly? I think this is exactly what happens. It’s the kind of thing that happens when Trump’s negotiating a business deal. We just don’t see it. He’s written how he does it. One of his rules is, “You start out with three times what you want.” He says, “Now, that’s easy to say. It’s easy to say you’re gonna do it.

“But when you’re in the room and you’re on the other side of the table, it’s very hard to seriously tell somebody you want three times what you really want, with commitment and belief.” He said the only way he has found you really get what you want is to shoot so high at the start, ’cause you know you’re gonna have to come down from your original. So you’d better make your original sky-high. I’m talking technique. I’m not relating that specifically to what is happening here.

I’m simply opining that I think what we’re watching here is Trump negotiate. We just happen to be seeing it in public rather than how it normally takes place behind closed doors. Nobody sees negotiations. You hear about them. Be they between a team and an athlete…. (interruption) What is that? Have we got a weather alert coming? Is that what I hear? (interruption) An Amber Alert? Oh, is that what it was? I’m sorry, folks. We’ve got…

You can’t believe stuff going down: Tornado warnings, flash-flood warnings, and now an Amber Alert. I thought it was a leaf blower. It the sounded like a leaf blower, and I said, “What? Did somebody get a leaf blower in my studio? How’d that happen?” So I’m just telling you what’s in my gut. I have nothing. I don’t know anything. I just don’t think this is over. It’s all I’m saying. I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I don’t think this whole debate thing is settled. And I guess I’m saying I can see Trump showing up at it.

Don’t know why. Call it a gut feeling, instinct, what have you. I have never denied my instinct. Well, no, I have denied ’em, but they’re never betrayed me. What is this? CNN’s reporting Carly Fiorina has offered Trump $2 million to attend? Are you people joking with me now? Carly Fiorina has offered $2 million? Cruz backers offer $1.5 million for a Cruz-Trump debate? You see how this…? (interruption) No, not in Canada. Trump said he would debate Cruz in Canada. He said this at his South Carolina appearance last night.

Folks, you should have seen this. There was a mile-long parade of cars, people waiting to get in to wherever Trump was speaking last night in South Carolina. It was on YouTube. I watched a little bit of it. But, no, I don’t… I can’t… I’m not making specific predictions. All I’m telling you is I just don’t think this is over. I don’t know what it means, and I know for a fact that people… I don’t know for a fact. I mean, I’m saying with ontological certitude I’m very confident that the powers that be at Fox are still trying to get in there.

I don’t think anybody’s given up on trying to get him there.

This is the kind of situation he always tries to actually himself in in terms of negotiation. Grab sound bites 28, 29. This is the Huckster, Mike Huckabee, on Wolf Blitzer this afternoon. Blitzer said, “You’re taking part in so-called undercard Republican presidential debate.” What time is that? Seven o’clock. The main event’s a nine p.m., right, Eastern time. So the undercard’s at seven, what I call “the pregame meal,” and Blitzer said to Huckabee, “Now, you’re taking part in the undercard event. You plan on going over to Trump’s event for veterans? Is that what you’re gonna do?”

HUCKABEE: It’s to honor the troops. You know, it’s not an endorsement of Donald Trump candidacy. I’m still running for president. We’ve got the caucuses Monday night, but I’m delighted to join Donald Trump in an effort to salute veterans — and you know what? I don’t have anything going on at eight o’clock tonight. I’ll be done. So I figured, “Why not? Let’s slow the veterans our support.”

RUSH: Right, eight o’clock Central time. So Huckabee says, “Hey, I’ll finish the undercard. I’m not endorsing Trump. I’m just gonna go over there and join him in honoring the veterans.” And Blitzer said, “Well, correct me if I’m wrong, you seem to be more comfortable with Donald Trump than you do with Senator Cruz. Is that right?”

HUCKABEE: There are some positions Senator Cruz has taken that I can’t figure out, because I feel like there are different ones that he takes in Marshalltown, Iowa, than the ones he takes in Manhattan, and that’s disconcerting to me. I want people to be straight up, stand up. I don’t want them to change their view because of geography, and I also worry that Ted Cruz’s financing comes from the same corporate Big Business Goldman Sachs, Citibank, hedge fund, billionaire circle that gives us the politicians that we always have, and that’s why the policies never change.

RUSH: No, but of course he’s not endorsing Trump. No, no, no, no! He’s just gonna go join Trump over here at the veterans event. Here’s McCain. Grab sound bite 20 and 21. This is McCain last night also on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. Blitzer’s question to McCain: “What do you think of Trump’s decision not to attend the Republican debate on Fox? What do you think of that?”

MCCAIN: Anyone who is running for office and gets to pick who the moderator is, uhh, that’s the destruction of, eh (snickers), free press as we — as we know. Uh, I think that, uhhh, part of it is to blame the media. They’ve basically giving him a free pass. He, uhh, calls in on the Sunday talk shows. He decides which programs he’s on and which he isn’t. The media, I think — in their desperation to have him on all the time to increase ratings — uh, has probably given him the confidence that he can decide to have a, quote, “veterans” event. By the way, I wish were not using a veterans event as a way to further his own, uhh, political agenda.

RUSH: Now, that, folks, that’s just… That’s classic, el perfecto illustration of what I have been describing as the way the elites in the establishment look at all of this. Did you hear what he said? “Anyone who is running for office and gets to pick who the moderator is, that’s the destruction of the free press as we know it.” Translation: “He doesn’t get to tell the media who asks him questions or not! When you run for president, you deal with whoever the media throws at you.”

Because they’re all in the club, folks. The establishment’s made up of Republicans and Democrats and media people who are Republicans and Democrats. Although very few Republicans. But they’re all in the club, and they’re all the elites. And this is just what you do. (McCain impression) “He doesn’t get to pick his moderator! Nobody does! Nobody gets to pick the moderator.” Well, the way you guys play the game nobody gets to pick the moderator, but what if he doesn’t want to play by your rules?

Where is it written that to be elected president you have to go through the two party establishment to get there? If he doesn’t like who’s gonna ask him questions based on what’s happened before, Senator McCain, why should he put up with it? Your own party told NBC to go pound sand after the CNBC debate, if that’s not picking your moderator. I mean, that’s even worse, that’s picking your network.

But according to Senator McCain you don’t get pick your network when you’re running for president, you got a debate, because that’s the destruction of the free press. My rear end it is. Destruction of the free press. What free press? We don’t have a free press now. We’ve got an agenda oriented media that is simply an adjunct of the Democrat Party. People like McCain don’t help by playing along with it as though it’s somehow objective and independent, but we all know that the media is an adjunct of the Democrat Party and lives and breathes to advance the Democrat Party agenda as well as destroy the Republican agenda.

Doesn’t it make sense that somebody would come along and not want to play that game? Why do you have to play the game where the media gets to destroy you, where the same media will not try to take out your opponents. They will not try to take out Democrats. They will not try to embarrass the Democrats. They will not try to humility them. They will not try to make them look bad, but it’s perfectly okay for ’em to do so with Republicans and you’re supposed to sit there and take it? And if you don’t, it’s somehow threatening the freedom of the press?

And look at this. “I think part of it is to blame,” McCain says, “that they’ve given him a free pass. He calls in on the Sunday shows.” Now, that’s key. The Sunday shows nobody calls in. The Sunday shows, in the religion of politics, the Sunday shows are church, and you don’t phone that in. You put on your coat and tie and you go there. You go to the greenroom, you meet everybody else on the show, you hang around afterward for photos on set with the host, you get along with the other guests, then you leave and you interview with the rest of the media waiting for you outside the studio. That’s your Sunday. That’s when you go to church.

You don’t phone the Sunday shows. It just isn’t done. You will never get in the club phoning the Sunday shows. You have to show up. When’s the last time you were allowed to phone in church? And McCain’s admitting that. He calls in the Sunday shows. He decides which programs he’s on and which he isn’t. What’s wrong with that? Is everybody supposed to just sit there and exercise no choice whatsoever over where you go in the media? The guy’s making my point for me that I spent so much time on yesterday. And McCain says, the media, you know, they’re selling out here for ratings. Trump gets ratings so they’ll take him any way they can get him, any time they can get him, whether he comes in here or calls in on the phone or not.

And that burns ’em, folks, ’cause these are the guys that put on their coat and tie and have gone to church every Sunday and they’ve hung around with the pastor and they’ve met the rest of the congregation. And when it’s over they go out the front door and they meet the junior pastors from the rest of the media and they answer their questions. And Trump’s not doing any of that. And now added to all this is an insult that Trump is gonna do a counter-event for veterans, and McCain’s even offended by that. “I wish were not using veterans as a way to further his own political agenda.” Seriously? Like he’s the first?

Anybody remember the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Anybody remember John Kerry reenacting the taking of Boston Harbor again. The night of the Democrat convention, his turn to make his speech there, he was reenacting the Swift Boat guys over in Vietnam. They crossed Boston Harbor, all the way over to wherever the convention hall was. It was a full-fledged effort to capitalize on the military. And the fact that the haughty John Kerry, who had served in Vietnam, seeking to remind everybody that he had.

Here’s Ted Cruz on Good Morning America today, speaking with Tom Llamas, L-l-a-m-a-s. And Llamas said, “Do you think Donald Trump is afraid to debate you personally?”

CRUZ: Actions speak louder than words. I would welcome him in Sioux City Saturday night. We have a venue, a town hall. At the end of the day I don’t think he’s afraid of Megyn Kelly. I don’t even think he’s afraid of me. I think he’s afraid of the people of Iowa, doesn’t want to answer their questions, doesn’t want to defend his record.

RUSH: Doesn’t want to answer questions, doesn’t want to defend his record. What record would that be? Could it be that he doesn’t want to be faced with: “Mr. Trump, it wasn’t that long ago that you were on record as saying you were in favor of amnesty.” Maybe he doesn’t want to get those questions; I don’t know. But I’m just gonna reiterate, folks, I don’t think whatever’s going on here is over. I think the negotiations are still going on and we’re watching them take place. I have no idea what I mean by this ’cause I’m not making any firm predictions, but as show biz and politics combine into one entity, if you think something might happen tonight that you would only see in a movie or only see on television, you better start realizing that that means you can see it for real in politics, too.


RUSH: Harry, Stevensville, Michigan. Harry, I’m glad you called. You’re next on the Rush Limbaugh program. Hi.

CALLER: Hi, Rush. Mega dittos.

RUSH: Thank you, sir.

CALLER: You’ve already covered it, but I called to say that I really think we’re being played.

RUSH: Played by who?

CALLER: By Trump, who is the master negotiator, and he is playing his game of walking away. Just as you walk away from a rug salesman, he’s looking back, and I think he’ll show up tonight, having won some concessions. I would go further and say that what Fox News ought to do is tell him that it’s over, that it takes too long to redo all the questions and the organization of the program and that he’s out, just to ensure that doesn’t happen.

RUSH: Oh. Okay. So there’s two prongs here. You think Trump is going to show up and has made demands that certain things change, and you hope Fox tells him no?


RUSH: Well, if Fox tells him no, then he won’t show up, ’cause he’s not gonna show up on a contingency. You think he’d show up with the hopes that Fox will make the modifications he wants?

CALLER: No. I think he is still negotiating, as you say, it’s going on.

RUSH: Right.

CALLER: And I think Fox News ought to announce that they’re not gonna allow him to come.

RUSH: Okay. Well, that’s interesting. That’s why I was asking. I asked this question of people here on the staff about a half hour ago, and I just want to tell you, from all three of them, “No way. There’s no way Trump could show up now. Impossible.” He’s already set the thing up at CNN. He’s already told Fox to go pound sand. CNN’s televising the Trump event. “No way.”

Now, you have a more specific — Harry, you have a more specific image of what you think is going down. I just have something in my gut that says — and I don’t know how it manifests. I don’t think we’re being played, in the sense that there’s a — well, we’re being played, but I don’t think that’s the objective here. I think there’s a genuine negotiation going on here, and Trump is I’m trying to get the best deal he can. Whatever that is, I have no clue. And it may be a publicity stunt. I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I could be dead wrong, too. It isn’t over, is all I think.


RUSH: Adam in Casey, Illinois. It’s great to have you, sir. Hello.

CALLER: Rush, it’s really cool to talk to you. Appreciate all that you do.

RUSH: Thank you, sir, very much.

CALLER: Calling from the People’s Republic of Illinois, and I just had a quick question for you. You’ve been very clear that you’re not endorsing any candidate; you’re just explaining what Trump is doing, what’s happening, and particularly between him and Fox and Megyn Kelly. But I’m curious, I know you’ve explained it and I get everything you’re saying, but I’m curious, what is your opinion of it?

RUSH: What is my opinion of Trump’s tactics? What is my opinion of Trump’s behavior, strategy? Which specific?

CALLER: Yeah, of his behavior with Megyn Kelly and Fox, missing the debate, making a big deal about his treatment and being treated unfairly and do you think he’s making the right decision?

RUSH: Well, I have long advocated, and we could go back and find the tape, we can go back to our archives and find the transcripts. I have long advocated that Republicans in general no longer have to take it from the media. Why do we have to sit there and let the media pick our nominee every four years, for example? Why can’t people stand up and say to various people in media, when you already know how they’re gonna treat you, why go there?

How many times have I suggested that Republicans avoid certain Sunday shows hosted by certain people. What’s gonna happen? You know you’re not gonna win anything there. You’re not gonna triumph there. No matter how well you do, after you’re gone they’re gonna portray you as something unfavorable. Why give them the chance? And I’ve asked Republicans this, and the answer I get, “You have to do it. We can’t avoid it. We can’t run from the media.” And I’ve always said, “You’re not running from them; you’re just not giving them the chance to personally destroy you, insult you, or what have you.”

And I can… I’ll bet you I could find in our archives over the past 25 years, after certain presidential debates or similar-type programs… I’ll bet you I can find myself saying, “Why do it? Why let those people moderate? Why agree to letting this debate commission to choose these people to moderate? Why don’t you stand up for yourselves and demand your own moderator?” So in that sense, I don’t have a problem with this. I think that this is something I’ve actually urged Republicans to do, as a party, over the course of the whole time that I have been doing this program.

Because, you know, everybody knows now and agrees that the Democrats are not our only opponent; the media is as well. Republicans are running against two opponents in every election. And Republicans have always just fallen back on the notion that that’s just the way it is for them. That’s the hand that they’re dealt. That’s the hand they have to play. And so there’s a part of me that enjoys it, and I’ll tell you why. It’s the same thing I said about Trump early on. I think the real value of Donald Trump — and I might have said this the first week of his campaign, certainly within the first month.

Donald Trump is showing that you don’t have to be afraid of the media — and Republicans are. Republicans are afraid of being called racist so they don’t criticize Obama. They’re afraid of being accused of the government shutdown, so they don’t make a single effort to stop any of this disastrous spending. And I’ve always said that the value Trump brings to this is demonstrating that you don’t have to fear criticizing the first black president. You don’t have to fear criticizing Democrats.

You don’t have to fear standing up to liberal Democrat policies and saying “no,” and you certainly don’t have to fear being accused of violating political correctness. And I still stand by that. I think there are valuable lessons being taught and demonstrated here — and, frankly, one of the things that has sort of mildly surprised me is how few other Republicans have sought to take advantage of this. I was hoping that Trump would inspire similar behavior in a whole lot of these candidates, if you want to know the truth.

Now, I’m not talking about reacting to criticism in what some people think’s a petty way.

I’m talking about being bold! I’m talking about being fearless! I’m talking about shelving — getting rid of — these generational fears of the media. Fears of charges of racism, sexism, bigotry, and homophobia. Just go out and tell people who you are. Go out and be who you are. Go out and stand for what you stand for and explain to people why, instead of thinking the only way you can get somewhere is to convince somebody else that you’re not what the Democrats or the media say about you.

That’s a losing proposition, ’cause nobody’s been ever able to prove a negative.

You just can’t do it.


So, sadly, folks, not enough time here to take another caller, not enough time for another inane sound bite. The GOP big debate in Iowa is tonight, and I just want to finish here by — well, it is. It’s a great career risk. The odds are I’m dead wrong about it, but I just don’t think this is over. As you know, I have a very prominent gut. My prominent gut is telling me it’s not over. Something’s gonna happen still yet involving Trump.


RUSH: Okay, folks, I’m just telling you: The size of the audience of this thing tonight could be huge, and I don’t know that both sides want to let go of that. Just… Okay, I’m an idiot. Forget I said it. Just forget it.

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