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. republicans hate america

    SkiDoc - Operation chaos did not work neither will your insignificant made up 20 million. because the other 65 million that back Obama will not allow it.

    May 24, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |

    TCM, You need to see a shrink in the worst way. you are a very sick person.

    May 24, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  3. Virginia

    At the risk of being accused of censorship, I wish all the networks would limit Dick Cheney's appearances on TV. He is nothing but a distraction for the country. He is only appearing now to try to change the country's attitude toward President Obama and what he is doing for us. Where was Cheney for 8 years? Hiding out somewhere plotting torture and sending out his death squads of killers to other countries. This man is evidenly deranged because he has lost control of our country.

    May 24, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  4. Brian

    People like Ridge, and the vitriol comments left here by those who don't understand the issues, just don't get it.

    The Republican Party is supposed to stand for conservatism. Fiscal conservatism, social conservatism, and strong national defense. It is supposed to contrast the Democrat's socialist, left-wing agenda, and offer an alternative, not "reach across the aisle" and be the Democrats' friends so the New York Times won't pick on them. Conservatism brought forth huge landslide victories in 1980, 1984, and in 1994. What has being moderate brought Republicans? Decades of minority status and millions of voters staying home in disgust. Ridge – why would I vote for a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-big government Republican when I can get the same thing from the Democrat? People like Ridge, and Colin Powell, are trying to scurry favor with the media by attacking the Republican Party and splitting it's base. Liberals who are praising Ridge here would never vote for him anyway because he's still a Republican. Do I make myself clear? Are you following me, camera guy?

    May 24, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  5. BEN

    we are sinking in greed/ it is impossible to borrow our way out of debt.
    yes we are heading to a lot worse time than we have seen. we need to work and we need to help others but we can, not keep giving to those that are nothing but bums that think that the goverment owes them a living. i have worked hard all of my life and i have found out if i needed a helping hand it was at the end of my own arm. i have been blessed with a great family and i have taken care of them and now i am up in years and i look back and see what has happened to this country it makes me sick.. why should those of us that have worked hard to support the ones that dont work.

    May 24, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  6. K.M. Honeycutt

    Rush is part of the same old worn out GOP he has been a part of since he began. I am always amazed he thinks he can recreate himself whenever he wants. That old GOP bought and paid for his success, how dare he think he is not part of them lock,stock and barrel.

    May 24, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. Jack

    Ridge is right and so is Powell, the Republican Party is a "none entity" in the political world as long as Rush "over the cliff" Limbaugh is a major voice in the Republican Party.

    Everyone has been trying to tell him and Hanity to shut up. Why isn't he listening?

    And Ridge don't apoligize toomorrow to Limbaugh or Hanity, let them continue to make fools of themselves

    May 24, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  8. Barbara

    I sincerely hope that Ridge DOES NOT apologize to Rush. He has no reason to as he stated his view of Rush. What Rush hates is to be viewed as a nobody and the more he spews hateful words, the more people listen to him. My late husband listened to him all the time to the fact that when Clinton was running and Rush came out to say he would vote for Clinton, my husband called me a work to tell me what he had heard. My late husband was more like me, a moderate Republican, but when the evangelicals took over the party, they lost my vote. There was no way I could have voted for McCain, too old, too out of touch, too everything. And before we start complaining about Obama, let us give him something more than just a 100 days to work with – how about a whole term?

    May 24, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. Robyn

    It is also interesting that no one examines Rush's self proclaimed number of 20 million listeners. After his many drug incidents, his attacks on our military as "phony soldiers", his attacks on people with Parkinson's disease as "fakers", his racial slurs, his bigotry, his calls for violence, riots, and his hopes that America will fail; I wonder how low his actual audience numbers are by now.

    May 24, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  10. Avi Shlomo

    How about our leaders tell Limbaugh and his racist followers: They are not part of the Republican party. For those people who live by what he says, your idiots, limbaugh cares only about himself, ratings so he can make money. he would be on the first plane to live in central America enjoying his money should rating go down, wake up People, we had enough of this bafoon. Listen to men and women of good judgment and character!!

    May 24, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  11. Operation Crush Rush

    We have Limbaugh on the run now.His sponsors are telling him to shutup or lose.Good work fellow crushers.Keep those calls and e mails coming at old lardo.

    May 24, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. Will

    Some like to say that Rush Limbaugh is the heart and soul of the Republican Party. IT would be more accurate to say that Rush has possessed the soul of the GOP. I think that Rush's audience numbers are inflated. I doubt seriously that 20M people tune in to listen to his blather on a daily basis. He has a ignorant and indoctrinated following, but not too many people take him seriously. The GOP leadership is beginning to understand that Limbaugh and his ilk are destroying the party and are backing away from him. The number of people self-identifying as Republicans is steadily dropping. The party is in such deep trouble that if it doesn't change direction now (really change, not just media hype and propaganda), it will functionally cease to exist after the next eelection.

    May 24, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  13. Jared

    I fail to understand why Rush Limbaugh is being discussed by high ranking and former high ranking politicians. Rush is an entertainer. He's never done anything in politics besides voice his opinion. I imagine the view from the cheap seat is very comfortable and that it's a luxury to sound off on issues without ever having to devise a solution. Of course, he has all the solutions and they will all his mind anyway. His comments on Colin Powell are laughable seeing as how he often sung his praise in the late 90s and earlier this decade. Rush, Colin Powell is 10 times the man, leader, and national figure than you could ever hope to be. Get off the pills and maybe you'll see that.

    May 24, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  14. Avi Shlomo

    Brain, your comments are indicative of what is wrong with republican party, if you do not like it go Back to Europe.

    May 24, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. Chris


    You don't need an accusation, that is censorship.

    You are also intolerant and un-American. I suppose you believe that bigotry only goes one way.

    May 24, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  16. christa

    Limbaugh is making me ill. He will do any and every thing to keep us ill advised. We in this nation should learn in school and highschool, about the rest of the world as it is not as Limbaugh says it is. But so many people here drop out of highschool and are not educated at all. But these people believe his rhetoric and lies and are the same people with no education.

    May 24, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  17. eva

    Am not a Whiz on US Politics internal politics Just normal and get really worried about the right wing fdiscussions that are going on right now. Sure Obama will not save the world – that`s for the people to decide! his voice is still a pebble in the sand. Since 9/11 the climate has changed for sure. But Vietnam/korea should have taught these generals somehing.รถ Freedom is a free spirit.

    May 24, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  18. Ed

    I have a friend who is a staunch republican and is proud to say that the GOP runs their party like the mob. Their way or no way, with that kind of thinking, nothing will ever get solved. They are crying that Obama is not working with them, how ofter did they work with democrats when they controlled the congress and presidency. NEVER

    May 24, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  19. Nick

    Good to hear some Republicans are standing up and denouncing the dirty, finger-pointing, extremist scare tactics of a few blowhard rednecks.

    I give Tom Ridge credit for that, even though I loathe what the Republican party stands for, that party of hypocrites.

    May 24, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  20. Purple Spider

    It amazes me that there is continuing fighting and bickering between the GOP and the Democrats and they act like bitter enemies! This is unproductive and it's all "talk and no do"!
    We are all supposed to be Americans, but are we?

    May 24, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  21. bluesky

    Colin Powell is the GOP that actually does stand a chance of winning elections. He stands for military strength, fiscal conservatism and policies that favor the middle class and the working poor. Limbaugh's comments are laughable and prove how far out of touch he is.

    May 24, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. Brian

    "Remember Limbaugh ,you get a lot more with honey than vinegar!If you talked like that about Bush and his cohorts" - Pete, Rush and talk radio did complain about Bush on the spending, amnesty for illegals, Harriet Miers, and other Bush policies. In fact, no one was more vocal opposing Bush on domestic policies than conservatives. Stop trying to equate conservatism with the Republican Party, because the two of them are not the same. Conservatives can't stand the GOP because it has moved away from its principles. It's funny how liberals bash Bush, but it was Bush who practically gave liberals everything they wanted except on foreign policy.

    May 24, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  23. John

    Rush is right that Powell is weak on substance, conviction and idealology. Rush doesn't pull any punches. His passion for conservatism is huge but if you just put aside his manner of delivery and LISTEN to what he says.. you'd understand what he says is true and that conservatism IS WHATS BEST for the country. Both Repub and Dem parties are very much the same – There is little difference and THAT is what Rush is talking about – Colin Powell has no conviction and is not a true conservative. Tom Ridge can disagree with Rush on HOW his message is delivered but I find it hard that any true conservative would disagree with Rush on WHAT he says.

    May 24, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  24. Justin

    If the Republican party is going to survive they need to flush Rush... his 20 million will be all they have because he alienates the rest of the country.

    May 24, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  25. George Synan

    Good... we need TRUE conservatism in this country so we can reach the middle ground. With a moderating influences within the GOP, hopefully the neocon movement of enlarged government, tax breaks for the wealthy, erosion of civil liberties and a paralyzing fear will end.

    The last 8 years we have swung TOO far right. The natural reaction is to swing too far left. We need moderate views because that is the ideology of most people when they think through the issues for themselves. Extremism of either persuasion is to be avoided.

    I hope this recession teaches us the following... fiscal conservatism with a small and HONEST government, individual responsibility, a fair social safety net that helps people out without resorting to dependency, a healthy environment, reduced dependency of foreign sources of energy and fair regulation that allows anyone to participate in capitalism but prevents any one entity from destroying it.

    May 24, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
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