[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/19/art.limbaug.gi.jpg caption="Limbaugh says McCain should not pick Ridge or Lieberman for VP."](CNN) - Rush Limbaugh, the popular conservative talk-show host who's long been lukewarm to John McCain's candidacy, warned the Arizona senator Tuesday picking a pro-choice running mate could devastate the Republican Party.
Referencing reports McCain advisors are seriously considering both former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and former Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman - both of whom favor abortion rights - Limbaugh said picking either of those men would ensure a GOP defeat, and damage the party’s brand for years to come.
"How about some discussion from the McCain campaign about a conservative who can be counted on across the board, who can help lead the country in the right direction?" said Limbaugh. "Who can help rebuild the Republican Party? Lieberman can’t do that - and rebuild the conservative movement? McCain nor Lieberman nor Ridge can do that.”
The comments come amid reports senior advisors to McCain are floating both Lieberman and Ridge's names among key social conservatives in an effort to measure the blowback the Arizona senator will face if he names either man to the ticket. One party insider tells CNN that McCain campaign manager Rick Davis has called several state party chairs and indicated Ridge will be the Republican vice presidential pick this cycle.
Limbaugh said Tuesday that the drawbacks of choosing either man far out-weighed any potential benefits.
"McCain has already seen to it that he can walk across the aisle that he’s the top of the ticket," Limbaugh said. "If anybody is going to attract moderates, it’s going to be the top of the ticket guy. He’s not going to help himself any additional way, he’s going to hurt himself by putting a liberal or a liberal Republican on this ticket, particularly pro-choice.”