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. Jenni

    I have never liked Rush Limbaugh, and never will.

    His opinions are just that, opinions. The only real difference between Limbaugh and others who express their anger filled opinion, is that Limbaugh gets paid for doing so, and is paid for putting on a show.

    May 24, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. dementedcrats

    Dear James Theiler – Cheney is totally relevant to this country. He kept the jihadists and other democrat party joy toys from attacking us again. Rather have patriotic Cheney than a fascist Obama. Go back to your crack pipe demmy boy.

    May 24, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  3. Ed

    Tom Ridge decorated Vietnam Veteran/Harvard Alum, Colin Powell decorated Vietnam Vet/Secretary of State, Rush gasbag/druggie/no military service. Voice of GOP=Rush. Makes sense doesn't it?

    May 24, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  4. Tony

    To the purist "conservative" Republicans out there – you don't win elections by simply appealing to your base. That way you will never get 50% plus of the vote. In this respect Ridge is right. And it is also time to grasp the principle of "sound money" again – something which seems to have been forgotten for years.

    May 24, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  5. Kevin, Austin

    Ridge, Powell '12... now we're getting somewhere with reasonable, intelligent conservatives, who put country first over their ambitions and egos.

    And I'm a liberal democrat...

    May 24, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  6. dementedcrats

    Dear Dave – "end of conversation" ? You sound like an obamist. Voice an opinion, as long it agrees with your lord and savior, Barack Hussien Obama.

    May 24, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. George

    In time the true "far right wing conservatives" led by Limbaughism in America will be reduced to an underground militia. Probably siding with the Talaban or Islamic extremist conservative movement. Together they will wage their Christian/Islamic jihad against liberalism, socialism and freedom for all – especially women. Their constitution will be the Bible and the Koran. Death to Secularism will be their rallying cry.

    If they succeed they will turn on each other.

    May 24, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. minority

    Who are these people that listen to this clown betwen the hours of 12:00pm and 3:00pm. I would like to listen to Rush during those hours but because i have a real job and do not depend from government handouts i could be number 20,000001 listener.

    May 24, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. dementedcrats

    eva know nothing about socialist medical care. I have experienced it and it is a nightmare. Cancer deaths skyrocket, old people are left to rot in their beds. Shame on you eva and shame on the democrat party for attempting to hoist this god awful thing on us.

    May 24, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. BJs

    dementedcrats, grow up. So Obama won. Get over it.

    May 24, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. 2012 campaign has begun

    and ridge is hoping to get a foot in.

    let GOP splinter into pieces!

    May 24, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  12. EcoAZ

    This country is way too divided, and hostile incivility has apparently become the new black, spoon fed by the CNN's, Olbermanns, Maddows, et. al, who make Limbaugh look like a choir boy.

    U.S. citizens should be mortified, if 53 million of them weren't so stupidly narcissistic.

    May 24, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  13. Retired US Army Officer - Kansas

    Imarriedmy sister in TheOleSouth May 24th, 2009 10:25 am ET

    I love Rush Limbaugh and believe everything he tells me

    This the problem with the Republican Party today.

    May 24, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  14. Debbie

    It says so much about the state of the Republican party that they are trying to tell Rush how to be a radio personality. Can you imagine if the left paid that much attention to Keith Olbermann and told him how to do his job?

    The fact is, the right has no one. So, their entertainment gets really loud in the vacuum of silence. And the reason they can't say anything is because their one word "no" is only one syllable. And, the only other platform they developed over the last eight years is how to defend the indefensible - George Bush and Dick Cheney. During the election, they did everything they could to distance themselves from these two, and now that Dick Cheney is the second loudest Republican behind Rush, they feel like they have to get back on the bandwagon headed straight for hell.

    Then there's that RNC chairman they elected - apparently, according to Steele, just because he's black, and oh, wouldn't that be cool! They have no hand, but they show their cards at the most inopportune moments.

    May 24, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. Sylvia Rinell

    I'm tired of the immature, hateful diatribes of Limbaugh and Coulter. Having said that, however, they do have a right to their opinions. Limbaugh lost me years ago when he referred to Chelsea Clinton as "the world's ugliest (or was it homliest?) teenager". When I heard that I realized that Limbaugh has an ugly character and how cruel and abusive are his words. Later he shows his blatant hypocrisy by becoming a drug addict, even though other drug addicts should "go to prison", etc. How I WISH that Limbaugh practised what he preached for others! In my opinion, Limbaugh, Coulter, and all the neo-cons have destroyed the GOP.

    May 24, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. Republicans are the American Taliban

    Rush Limbaugh , Glen Beck, Hannity and their ilk are like watching professional wrestling. They yell and scream and basically appeal to the same audience. The difference is that wrestlers whip the audience into a frenzy demanding physical violence, whereas political show entertainers whip their audience into a frenzy go vote for politicians that will affect our entire nation.

    May 24, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  17. regulator

    SkiDoc, Bob and TMC are the same blogger! Check it out; I tracked their origin to the same stinking neighborhood. Ha, the only reason people think El Rushbo might have 20 million listeners is because he himself repeats this very number every chance he gets. Just like in the lead up to the Iraq war, the "proof" was traced back to the early "Talking Points" that were fed out to those NeoCon media conglomerates by DS Rumsfeld’s propaganda machine buffoons. If I repeatedly say I have 20 million readers on the RedState or HotAir blog sites and if these idiots, SkiDoc, Bob and TMC (or blogpuppi) were to write the same thing, people at the end of THIS blog might start believing it. Remember that feeling when we all realized the Bush Admin had pulled one on us and the shame of knowing they were our supposed leaders? Please don’t forget. Chaney can repeat lies all day long. It can’t change the hard fact that he was part of the worst, failed administration in history! Don't be a victim of the Red Propaganda Machine again. They employ "Street Teamers" that fan out and spread filth 'cause they have no ideas of their own so MUST criticize others who don’t support wealthy interests. They would be content with history in a loop.

    May 24, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. J. Rustman

    I don't often listen to CNN, but did again this AM. I recalled why I don't listen to CNN much. The Commentator called Rush L the head of the Republican party. This demonstrates the clear Extreme Left wing bias of the CNN net. I've again tuned CNN out.
    Additionally, Ms Boxer was the golden guest to the show was presented by CNN as the hero which is being pursued by evil Republican.

    I'm basically a slightly liberal independent at this point. I support Obama, but I do not support the California form of government.

    Would it be out of line to suggest that Ms Boxer, Nance P. and California, as well as New York City, form their own country and leave the rest of us alone. My country, southern Indiana and like regions, do not want to support the excessive spending and the radical politics of the people in the large cities who know little of conservation of natural resources, or living life of manual labor, or hard work, or honest living.

    May 24, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  19. Mark Atlanta

    Limbaugh is not "just an entertainer" – he lives of divisions in our society on every level. Way too many people who cannot think themselves now rely on this bully to tell them what to think...He may not even believe in all racist/hateful/divisive things he feeds his audience with, but he created a monster – 20 million Americans who hate because they think Rush told them to, and tomorrow they would kill if they would believe Rush would approve that. Just compare hate crime statistics and talk radio goes up – the other does as well. This is not the coincidence.

    May 24, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  20. Post always rejected by CNN

    rush is out to make money and the ones that follow him at heart are militant and stubborn....they are the ones that want every body to live by their rules. They don't act very bright. And they tend to blame everything that has happened to them on everyone else, instead of taking blame for their own short comings. They will never change. And yes rush knows that and the more he spews and flames the more he gets of that money he is so in love with. The ones who follow him, can't seem to realize they are in reality the ones filling his pockets.

    Who in the world want to listen to some guy rant on oxycontin...and something you are not allowed to say....just the lemmons in the republican who can't think for them selves.

    May 24, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  21. Independent_me

    The man is exactly right on.
    The Republican base has a mob mentality that thrives on emotional rantings to keep them "fired up". They need more thoughtful, deliberative people who can focus on the real issues that Americans face every day, instead of ideological nonsense that has no substance or relevance and contributes nothing to the lives of the very people who are "fired up" to support them.

    Rush Limbaugh is making millions by manipulating gullible Republicans into thinking that they are "real Americans" if they support him. He will never have to worry about health care, or credit cards, or trying to eke out a living in an America where jobs are no longer secure and the future is frightening. He is secure and will remain so for the rest if his life. People who support him need to wake up to the fact that he is merely using them to support his lifestyle and ego.

    May 24, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  22. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    He will be on air tomorrow apologising to Rush.Never mind!

    May 24, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  23. Commie Hater

    Words mean something. Exactly: Pelosi, Obama, et al. The reason the GOP lost is because it strayed so far from it's values. The 'Contract with America' was a great thing, but power can be intoxicating and make you stupid; thus overspend and grow government. The GOP doing a great job of losing the publicity battle because the red herring of 'political evolution' is a nagging canker sore. The Democrat party never has to compromise because they've always stuck to their centralized planning, big government, trickle-up poverty game plan. When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you generally have the support of Paul. Thus the Democrat Party creates a dependent class of voters and not self-reliant, freedom loving citizens. We are slowly becoming the government dependent crack-heads we deserve to be if Conservatism fails. I don't care about the GOP, but conservative values breed more prosperity than government dependency does. Read your history books.

    May 24, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  24. dementedcrats

    Dear BJs – Obama has brought us a collapsing country. Financially, morally, in every way. By the way, BJ, you a good friend of Bill Clinton : )?

    May 24, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Rush Limbaugh, along with his lap dog lackey, Newt Gingrich is a fat air bag that should shut his stupid pie hole. If you want to discuss integrity, you should remember that he is the guy that divorced his dying wife (cancer) because "You are to sick for me to deal with right now, I have political ambitions that I need to fulfill (or words to that effect). Only a heaping (morally speaking) would do something so disgusting. I don't know about you but I wouldn't give a jerk like that the respect of spitting in his face.

    May 24, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
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