May 24th, 2009
05:02 PM ET
14 years ago

Ridge takes aim at Limbaugh

(CNN) - Pennsylvania Republican Tom Ridge is taking direct aim at Rush Limbaugh, telling CNN's John King the conservative talk radio host can be "shrill" and uses language in a way "that offend very many."

"Rush Limbaugh has an audience of 20 million people. A lot of people listen daily to him and live by every word. But words mean things and how you use words is very important," Ridge, the former Homeland Security Secretary under President Bush, said during an interview airing Sunday on CNN's State of The Union.

"It does get the base all fired up and he's got a strong following," Ridge continued. "But personally, if he would listen to me and I doubt if he would, the notion is express yourself but let's respect others opinions and let's not be divisive."

The comments come in the wake of a war of words between Limbaugh and Colin Powell, during which the former secretary of state suggested the GOP's future was in peril if it went in the direction of the popular radio talker. Limbaugh quickly hit back, proclaiming Powell is part of the "stale, the old, the worn-out GOP that never won anything."

But in the interview with CNN, Ridge said the GOP infighting should instead be directed toward Democrats who hold fundamental disagreements.

"I think for the American public, for the Republican Party to restore itself, not as a regional party, but as a national party, we have to be far less judgmental about disagreements within the party and far more judgmental about our disagreement with our friends on the other side of the aisle," he said.

The onetime Pennsylvania governor who ruled out a Senate bid earlier this month also called for an end to personal attacks.

"Let's lead our party based on some principles that have been very much a part of who we are for decades. And let's be less shrill in terms of - and particularly, let's not attack other individuals. Let's attack their ideas," said Ridge.

(This post has been edited to correct a transcription error)

Filed under: Extra • Popular Posts • State of the Union • Tom Ridge
soundoff (305 Responses)
  1. Jeff (Omaha, NE)

    CNN, he did not "slam" Rush Limbaugh and did not "take aim" either. He was grilled about the issue and gave a fair response. What are you trying to accomplish by wording your articles in this way toward Limbaugh?

    May 24, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  2. Dawn, Ada, Ohio

    Unfortunately no one is going to stop that blowhard from spewing his hate, but I wish they would. I'm tired of getting nothing but him on my airwaves from 12 to 3. Talk about a monopoly. But then again, as a Democrat, Rush Limbaugh is a guarantee that the Dems will stay in office for a long time to come. As someone said below 20 million people can not win an election and he is disenfranchising the Republicans that have decency so I change my mind: KEEP IT UP RUSH!!!

    May 24, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. Eileen

    ...And on Tuesday Rush with throw another monumental temper tantrum like he did in reaction to Colin Powells criticism – where he once again resigns as tittular head of the republican party. Nothing says political power like a good old fashioned temper tantrum. Rush plays the vocal tough guy, but when the tables are turned on him, he handles criticism like a spoiled child.

    Too bad rush and his followers are beyond listening to reason – Ridges comments make sense the the majority, but not to the ditto heads. They react with the mental maturity of a 7 year old. It's really too bad because they could be a positive influence in rebuilding the party, but as it stands, they're doing more harm than good.

    May 24, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. Peg Steffero

    How refreshingly thoughtful are the remarks of Tom Ridge. Although a Democrat, I have always liked the give and take of intelligently formulated and respectfully stated arguments. Tom Ridge joins Colin Powell in the wing of Republicans who don't (in the words of President Obama) demonize their opponents. Rush Limbaugh frightens me when he panders to fear and prejudice.

    May 24, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  5. Mario Corral

    I am tired of John Kings anti democratic and anti Obama perspectives. Until he is removed from your network I will no longer tune in to CNN.

    We no longer need his constant negative points of view. He is always asking questions in a manner that results in negative responses.

    hasta la vista CNN

    May 24, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  6. RED1988

    Finally, someone speaks up. Pandering to the "Base" weakens the party and is something Limbaugh and Hannity dont understand. The base is the unappealing part of the party. It represents the scary extreme side of the Republicans. Not evryone out there will be the same religion or race and we republicans need to get over it. I want the right to carry a firearm wherver I want but I dont mind background checks. I think abortion is horrible and hope I never have to deal with the issue as a parent but who am I to tell a women what she can or cannot do. I believe in a higher power but dont trust organized religion. Our party turns off a lot of people because it appears racist (although I lost many so claimed democrat friends when they found out my wife was a different race). We need to become a middle of the road inclusive party that works through our differences.

    May 24, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. Dawn, Ada, Ohio

    EVA: Don't you get a tingle down your spine every time Cheney says our home land??? Talk about sounds like Nazi Germany to me!!!

    May 24, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. TCM

    @sensible Cape Coral FL –

    Oh, you believe they're nasty? Perhaps they should take professionalism lessons from Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, Rangel...and all the other stooges of the liberal left....

    Nastiness...haha...PELOSI wrote the book..she acted as if we work for her...."...I'm not going to discuss it...." what a fool she is...

    May 24, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. Gregg

    I cannot believe people actually take Limbaugh's views seriously.

    May 24, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  10. Justin from Warrensburg, Missouri

    Here's an idea, Tom, that might work even better. Why not try... bipartisanship... or EVEN: non-partisanship. Partisan politics is so divisive and so rarely serves the people that these senators and representatives claim to serve. I want a person who will serve my interests as a citizen, not one who's trying to further the agenda of certain group of ideas and people.

    May 24, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. Frank Lee

    Tom Ridge will be groveling and begging for mercy at the Temple of Limbaugh within 48 hours, guaranteed.

    ....and SkiDoc, Rush IS the reason the GOP is in the toilet. The more he yaps, the more ground the lose.

    May 24, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  12. Gumbercules

    To Chris from San Antonio:
    Remember, though, Michael Steele states the "era of apology" is over.

    May 24, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  13. Bill ~ Down on the Bayou

    Tom Ridge sucks, right along with Colin Powell, Eric Holder, barkey obama, and those posting comments about Rush Limbaugh. Most of them have never listened to him, and if they have they are too stupid to understand his comments. Or they purposely misstate what he has said. Case in point...... "I hope obama fails as president" That is not what he said, But, why waste my time commenting on stuff spewed by scumbags.

    May 24, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. kd

    Suddenly Ridge is on talk shows? Where did he come from? What's the angle? Is it to get this 'we all work together' hugfest image of Republicans? Please. He's as nasty as the rest of them and has nothing to offer but empty criticism. No ideas, no plans. Obama has ideas, has plans and the Republicans stand with their fingers in their ears, loudly saying 'lah-lah-lah' and then act as if the pres didn't say anything at all.

    Many of us will not forget the past 8 years (mostly because we'll be paying for them for the next 40, at least).

    May 24, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  15. ike

    It is very clear that those 20 million listeners are probably dumb. I just don't believe it's the intelligent folks in our country that listens to Rush and if they do like me it for entertainment purposes...i listen to Rickey Smiley's show to laugh...and it's why I listen to Rush too...there both funny

    May 24, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. BEN

    WHEN people turn to GOD and live like he wants us to then and only then will he heel our land.

    try it everything will get worse until we put GOD first in our lives.

    May 24, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  17. republicans hate america

    once the supreme GOP leader Rush begins to declare his decree that Tom Ridge is irrelevant, Tom Ridge will apologize to him and the rest of the GOP for offending THE ONE.

    May 24, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  18. luan isuffi

    I dont think it is of any importance to anybody what those arrogant morons from GOP are doing anymore.They are totally insignificant.

    May 24, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  19. AndyB

    Audience of 20 million? By who's count, the blowhard himself? It's hard to believe that there that many ignorant sheeple in America.

    May 24, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  20. Randy, San Francisco

    Tom Ridge may have to register as a Democrat after the Limbaugh wing of the GOP attacks him for not being a true Republican.

    May 24, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  21. republicans hate america

    Bill ~ Down on the Bayou - Rush did say he hopes Obama fails this is why you are so stupid because you rather believe what Rush tells you rather then what your own inbreed ears tell you.

    May 24, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  22. German,Irish American

    When Powell made the statement that Americans are happy to pay taxes for more services and want more government in their lives, he showed his true liberal philosophy. On this one, Tom Ridge is wrong in defending Powell. From the time that Obama was elected the Democrat nominee for President, Powell let race decide his political leanings and has consistantly attacked conservative beliefs. I really don't know any conservative that truly wants the government to have more say and control of their lives. Do you Mr. Ridge? So please stop pretending that Powell is a Republican, or even relevant in his hate speeches towards conservatives that hold different views than his own left-wing ideas.

    May 24, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  23. Dawn

    Rush and the far right loves to place fear in Amercan's and some are so stupid that you actually listen to him, Sean Hannity still believes there were WMD in Iraq! Glenn Beck, back peddles his actions and blames everyone else.

    Gov. Ridge just do not apologize to that junkie!

    May 24, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Poor TCM:

    Can't seem to take the time to click through CNN's various navigation buttons to read all of the news and instead has to use the old GOP party-line of media favoritism. Maybe, just maybe have you ever thought that the GOP did this to themselves???

    May 24, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  25. Chris

    Well somebody has to speak up for conservatives here. And let me say first, to all you Democrats, we don't want your advice, we don't want to moderate, appease, or, let me be frank, we aren't going to kiss anymore liberal butts to try to make you like us. You never will like the Republican party no matter how much we move to the left.

    I didn't realize until this interview that Tom Ridge was one of the wimps that thinks that to win elections we need to be nice Democrats. When are Democrats ever nice to Republicans? Where are the "moderates" in the Democrat party?

    To all you liberals who want to tell us who Rush Limbaugh is, GOOD LUCK! Until you actually listen to him, rather than listening to other people who don't listen to him, your comments about him will always be uninformed nonsense, or to put it another way, a fraud.

    To Tom Ridge, get with the program, our let us conservatives show you the door.

    May 24, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
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