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. Connecticut liberal

    I've listened to Rush for probably 15 years, starting when he was one of the few talk shows on a.m. I agreed with his view on personal responsibility where government is not always the (first) answer. However, I have seen him become more devisive over the years with fewer opposing opinions expressed.

    Rush has every right to speak on on any president or political issue. I only wish he was more tolerant (er... liberal?) on his views of differing opinions. There are many gray areas in life, where intelligence, open minds, dissenting opinions and research help Americans make the right decisions to benefit all.

    I have found Rush and his audience intelligent but again, his show does not consider that even a liberal can have a good idea.

    May 24, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  2. Mental midgit from phoenix

    I would believe a guy making millions and living in a Castle in palm Beach over a decorated warhero.Go Rush.

    May 24, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  3. Mark Atlanta

    You cannot compare Olbermann and Maddow to Rush. Nobody but Rush attacks people solely based on their ethnicity, race, religion...When did Keith or Rachel do that? You cannot compare one who inspires hate towards Hispanics, Muslims, gays, Arabs, Blacks and those who just oppose that aggressive and in my opinion criminal views.

    May 24, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. georgep

    A common misperception is that Rush Limbaugh has 20 Million individual listeners, therefore there are about 20 Million people who agree with him, are his ideological kin. That is not true. The 20 Million number refers to weekly listeners, an accumulated number over 7 days. Since most people are repeat listeners to Limbaugh that means that the total number of individuals tuning into Limbaugh is closer to 3.5 Million (individuals listening to 5 days a week of fresh content plus weekend repeats.)

    There is also a small p;ortion of listeners who are tuning into for the "trainwreck" aspect; people who don't agree with Limbaugh at all, but tune in just to see what kind of "junk" he comes up with next. Put that number at 0.5 Million, and you have at most an actual dittohead followership of 3 Million.

    Now, why should Ridge be concerned about offending those 3 Million people? In his mind Limbaugh and his followers are part of the reason a good 30 to 40 Million people, who were previously open to voting for the Republican party, have chalked the GOP off as unelectable, not fit to govern.

    May 24, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  5. Ryan (Chalotte)

    People, lets be complety honest. Rush is an ENTERTAINER. I like him alot and agree with him on most issues but that does not mean i worship at his alter like those on the left. I happen to like his unashamed conservatism and believe we need politicans willing to stand up to the media as he does. If you want to talk about awful/terrible people lets talk about the beloved Nancy Pelosi the bastion of integrity, Barney Frank (Mr. Fannie Mae), Mr. VIP mortgage himself (Chris Dodd) our ELECTED OFFICIALS are the people we should be on here bashing. My bet is that less then half of the people on here bashing Rush have not listened to anything more of his show than the 20 sec. soundbites played on CNN, NBC, etc. My bet is that this comment will not event be displayed but I really hope it does and cannot wait for the personal attacks from all of you "open-minded" liberals.

    May 24, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  6. Ken in NC

    Democrats love appreciate and need Rush Limbaugh. He has done more to help bolster the Democratic Party than anyone since President Obama. The more he spills his vile hate the more he drives a wedge between Republicans and Republicans. Democrats love Rush and he works for us for free.

    May 24, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. EcoAZ

    "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 ….to go vote for politicians that will affect our entire nation."

    Are you serious??? Tune in to that Olbermann freak. Try Matthews and Maddow. Those people spit baseless vitriol and don't even have the journalistic standards to counter with the truth.

    This hateful division of this country is getting serious, and needs to stop.

    Embrace the checks and balances of a two party system, and teach our children to respect differing opinions that are based in Truth, even if you don't have that ability.


    May 24, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. Simmy

    Ridge - Republicans -Clueless.....They got nothing.....

    May 24, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  9. TBA

    uh Oh Rush is going to get mad and kick Ridge out of the GOP. Rush is fill with hot air.

    May 24, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  10. Reggie from LA

    Alfred E. Neumann
    You're right, the world can tune out the airwave transmission and as such we have a choice to listen, or not. However, we also know that Rush becomes a bit of a "minister"...of speaking from the gut and from the dark of his insidious personality. If you notice, KO and Blitzer tend to speak from facts. Keep an eye on that. Rush needs other people to think like him in order to make himself feel complete and relevant. And it works Alfred. They become his congregation and parishioners who often demonstrate hatefulness and discord. Just kinda to difficult to tune that out. Makes everything all messy.

    May 24, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. bob

    yeah... dementedcrats you have no idea what you're talking about. You were probably one of the people always talking about how George Bush was the president so everyone must respect him and follow him, now that there's a Dem in office all of a sudden your message doesn't hold true. You've experienced "socialist medical care?" if you hate what's going on here so much then just go somewhere else and leave the vast majority of the country that elected obama alone.

    May 24, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Tim Brewer

    I find this very disturbing. Politicos worried about Hollywood actors. Rush Limbaugh is nothing more than a conservative Howard Stern. Who cares what he thinks? He is an over-paid non-entity. It's fun watching all the political up's and down's. Of course I don't vote, because I don't support organized crime.

    May 24, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |

    Ask yourself, What war did Rush serve in, what legislation has he written, what economic plan has he presented on behalf of the American people to help recover our nation from this recession or helped with any previous economic turndown? Where was Rush when Bush needed him the most when the "Public and the Party Candidate's" were bashing Bush in 2007 ad 2008?

    Rush should run for President, then we all will know how popular he is. Go, Rush! Go, Rush!

    May 24, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  14. Dennis F

    Aparently it is possible to fool 20 Million people ALL of the Time!!!

    May 24, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. Bill in WA State

    Van Broad

    "Rush Limbaugh is exactly correct, Powell never won anything......"

    No Powell has never won a popularity contest. He was just a Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces during the Gulf War (which I think we WON), four star general, and decorated Vietnam veteran. And what has your God Rush done with his drug addicted life?

    I'm a dem, but to see this disrespect for a great man, especially on Memorial weekend sickens my stomach.

    May 24, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  16. SNAPPA

    Ya and Limbaugh has twenty million listners like I have magical powers, what a load of crap. Limbaugh represents the "OLD" guard of a dying party that is clinging to life on support. With any luck the Republidolts will RIP just like the WHIGS.

    May 24, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Typical New England Pedophile

    Mark in Atlanta – give my best regards to your lord and savior, Barack Hussien Obama.

    May 24, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. Mark Atlanta

    Rush Limbaugh called our president: Arab, Black, Muslim, non-citizen, ant-Christian, Muslim, terrorist, socialist, communist, fascist..that is not an opposition to the president, that is a pure hate and fear mongering. Rush is not unique in that though as entire GOP and their media wing Fox and talk-radio do the same...

    May 24, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. Tony Justin

    I hope Rush Limbaugh continues with his shrill attacks on Colin Powell, Tom Ridge, and other moderate Republicans. I hope that Sean Hannity continues to bully all of his non-conservative guests. I hope that Ann Coulter continues to attack all people more liberal than herself as idiots, morons, retarded and traitorous. I hope that Newt Gingrich continues to say terrible things about all Democratic leaders. Why? Beacuse I want the Republican party to implode and be replaced with a centrist-right party. A party that takes more centrist views on the economy, personal responsibility, limiting foreign interventions, rational immigration policy, and more liberty in general.

    May 24, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. Typical New England Pedophile

    Obama has created this division intentionally. I call on Barack Obama to resign from the presidency immediately.

    May 24, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. regulator

    What planet are you from, dementedcrats? Everyone knows that Europe, Canada and other industrialized Countries who have adopted socialized medical care for all, are ranked above the United States in health care. You are so full of it. Of course you must be referring to your own Third World version of socialized medicine which we won’t have in this industrialized country of ours. Key word: industrialized. Get your facts strait, Street Teamer.

    May 24, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. MrQ

    Ridge is a RINO, that's all. He should have the guts to go what Arlen Specter did and change sides. The GOP needs men & women with FRESH IDEAS, not a, "let's just get along-like compassionate people should", philosophy of governing. The latter mindset is what gave us GW, and we all know where that got us.

    May 24, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. eva

    To Dementocrats! guess I just happen to live in a country where the health service REAlly works. was not imposing on the capitalistic state of mind you may have No one rots in their hospital beds here !!!and I would think that is ethical discrimination against all european health service workers.

    May 24, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  24. End Of An Error

    Limbaugh, Cheney, and Rove – they are all "shrill".

    May 24, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. lucretia

    LImbaugh is a sunday school teacher compared to the fascist pro-Obama entities of CNN, MSNBC and the Democrat Party. Zeig Heil Barry Obama !!!!!!!!!1

    May 24, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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