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. Dave

    Rush is a blow-hard. Sad for the sheep that follow him.

    May 24, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. Elo

    Hold on! Obama came in January, right? And he is the cause of everything wrong with America, right? Obama, why why why? You shoulda stayed away and let McCain lead us in the old ways.. Funny thing is that RUSH would still have attacked McCain daily cause they are not on the same page. Its just the audience, ratings and a fat paycheck. If you dont know this, then you are.....UnAmerican,

    LOL, I can't wait for the 2012 entertainment where Obama (with my vote again) wins. In your faces..

    May 24, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. TexNat

    Evelyn May 24th, 2009 11:10 am ET

    The only people that listen to Limbaugh seriously have banjo music playing in the background.
    I don't listen to Rush but still...what's wrong with "banjo music"? This is an example of liberal snobbery. There are many decent people in this country who also happen to listen/play banjos, country music, go to church, go hunting, watch NASCAR, etc. You gotta a problem with that? How much would liberal elitist snobs scream if we were to mock blacks eating watermelon, muslims wearing burkas, and gays acting, um, gay?

    May 24, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  4. Ancient Texan

    Rush is no more the leader of the Republican party than Chris Matthews is leader of the Democrats. He's a radio personality that has the right of free speech to say whatever he wants. Tom Ridge also has that right, but isn't a leader of the party either. I happen to disagree with his statement that was critical of Cheney's evaluation of national security. Colin Powell has the right to say whatever he wants to about the future of the party, but a man that has voted, by his own admission, for more Democrat Presidents, than Republican, won't get much traction with the everyday conservative Republican Voter.

    May 24, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  5. Fan of Common Sense

    Thank God for Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney. They are two of the few republicans remaining who still have backbones. It's because of spineless hand-ringers like Ridge and McCain that the republican party has fallen to the minority and given the democrats free-reign to destroy America. They have turned their backs on the principles and values that made it a great party.

    The reason Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the republican party is because there are no actual politicians in the republican party who are willing to stand up and say the things that need to be said–the things that are already on everyone's minds. They are all so scared of the media and so obsessed with their own political correctness and survival, they have actually accepted the media's ridiculous assertion that they must become like democrats if they want to survive.

    The greatest leaders in American history have also been the most passionate (or "shrillest," if you want to use Ridge's terminology). If someone had dared to tell Harry Truman to "not be so shrill" in his criticism of the Nazis and the Japs, they probably would have gotten a swift kick in rear as they were fleeing the oval office. Speaking of Truman–he would be ashamed to see what his party has devolved into.......not to mention his country.

    May 24, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. tween the hedges

    Limbaugh is a blowhard and a reactionary concerned with his ratings. Limbaugh shows me no concern for the people of America, but rather his own agenda of profiteering from devisiveness and right wing paranoia.

    If the GOP has any plans to redeem their party then they will face the facts and distance themselves from Limbaugh. It's time Limbaugh's run of "success" came to an end.

    May 24, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. alvino


    I have received a little extra in my paycheck beginning on April 1, from the Obama tax cut thanks to the stimulus. I guess you would have to be employed to get it though, so you must not be aware.

    May 24, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. Tim S

    Hey...Don't talk bad about Rush! He IS the voice of the new Republican Party. All hail Rush.

    May 24, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. Jim

    Finally, a republican who think before he speaks. If we continue the direction Limbaugh is taking our party, then we won't be a major political force in this country for long.

    May 24, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. regulator

    "And eva and regulator – tell us why there is a daily mass flow from your medicare heavens into the U.S. for treatment ? Tell us !"

    Yes, the United States has by far the most “expensive” health care but not the BEST. You have it backwards, actually, only the top 1% of the wealthiest in the world would dare come to the States for medical care ‘cause they know our medical system panders to the wealthy. They are treated like royalty. Great system if your filthy rich. I doubt you are that wealthy. Know what the average cost of a simple operation is? I pray you stay healthy and never have to eat your words.
    Ever heard of, yes even the rich, seeking Medical Tourism Packages to countries like Germany, Israel and India? It is a new trend, I am afraid. Yes the United States is a leader in medical innovation but that is a result of our liberal laws which your NeoCons hope to do away with. There goes our last great export. Oh, wait, we have Hollywood.

    Ok, don't "tell us, don't tell us"

    May 24, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. shinden58

    I saw the interview live and Ridge hit the nail on the head. Limbaugh is dividing the Republicans not building them up. It appears that: Limbaugh is only interested in Republicans that are 100% in step with his version of politics.

    Limbaugh will also say anything to get ratings. I urge the media to stop repeating what he is saying and take the wind out of his overblown sails. At that point he would be a non entity within the Republican party.

    May 24, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. alvino

    Good to see the ethnic cleansing of the GOP by the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, & Hannity. There is always room for those who can actually think for themselves in the Democratic Party.

    May 24, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Tim S

    Oh....And I'll bet Mr Ridge is backpedaling and kissing up to Rush before the week is over.

    May 24, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. Andrea D

    Keeping dividing.

    Yha'll Rove, side with OxyMoron and Cheney, 2 of the most despised people in this country.

    Cheney's company Hallibutron, has a record of over 90% shotty work in Iraq, yet he's made a literal fortune, plus bonuses for this, our tax dollars.

    Soldiers electrocuted taking showers. I recall the Bush administration saying, "if you criticize a war time president, it's treason". Hey, how come the same does not apply to Obama?


    Question for CNN. You came out with a poll saying 39 out of 100 Americans approves of Cheney! I don't know a solitary Republican that approves of him.
    That means moderates said he's dandy, what are you talking about!
    Who did you call? Somethings fishy

    May 24, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. John S

    dementedcrats May 24th, 2009 10:34 am ET

    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.

    Ypur a liar and an idiot. I do live in a socialist country and I can tell you something. I lived with cancer and was treated for it. I thank God every day that I do live in Canada. I have my life, my career, and I still own my home. Paying a percentage of my taxes for health care sure is a blessing. Living in your country would have me living in the street and broke. Give your head a shake an get an education. Your comments are like you. A joke.

    May 24, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Amanda

    Limbaugh and Coulter are prime examples of why the GOP is going down the drain. There are limits to insulting people's intelligence.

    May 24, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  17. Mike

    I think the Republicans should use a "good bank/bad bank" strategy to solve their problems. Limbaugh obviously would be the bad bank. We'll split off all the Rush clones and call them the "Republican'ts" or maybe the "Nopublicans".

    May 24, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. Kim, Dallas, TX

    Are these the same 20 million people that read the National Enquirer?

    May 24, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. RandyT

    If the Republican leadership had more folks in leadership like Powell and Ridge perhaps I could become a corss-pary line voter again.

    May 24, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. Just The Truth

    I love it.......These GOPs are so smart. The more Rush speaks (Or Hannity/ Beck/ O'Reily/ Coulter) the greater the momentum of the downfall of the GOP is going to be. Like I said earlier, The 20 Million listeners is a Steadfast number (There is nothing you can do about those lemming listeners). Is it really the GOP's plan to attract more voters by spewing non-sense on the air. Their demise is hilarious to watch. Please carry on just the way you are. STATISTICS suggest that the 20 Million number will stay constant but the overall GOP percentage will dwindle as the population rises. There is an overall shift towards the DEMs as the population becomes more diverse. And that's a fact ! Study History with Politics and the influence of diversity as the population increases !

    May 24, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. Bill

    I have a plan let's water board Rush if anything else it will shut him up for at least 3 seconds!

    May 24, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. DJ

    Glad you got some of my money. That money you received is out of my pocket and the pocket of others who pay 95% of the taxes in this country. It is called income redistribution and it is one of many steps Obama is taking toward socialism. Rush has a backbone. Powell never was a Republican

    May 24, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. joe

    The UK bans people like Limbaugh from even entering the country to spread his poison, and we should do the same. He should be prosecuted for hate speech and inciting people to violence. He is a open sore in our society and worthy of disdain, contempt and banishment from western civilization. We struggled 225 years in this country to listen to this filth?

    May 24, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. pt

    There must be people who read news for the news rather than flinging back their own opinions. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be many on CNN's ticker. I am tired of the left and right telling me what I should and should not do on any given issue. After getting the information, I can make up my own mind. Thank you very much. Attacking the issues instead of me increases the chances of changing my mind on an issue.
    Money talks. If you do not like a speaker, provide him less money by not listening to him nor empowering him by making him into a infamous villian.

    May 24, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. mary

    It's so very interesting to read entries by "lucretia" and "eva" and others of their ilk. 49 million Americans (and counting) don't have health care. Does it matter that they suffer? Or is it their fault that they can't afford health care? Do you folks get your kicks by seeing people down and out? Or is it that you just dislike, perhaps even hate, Barack Obama? I'm not sure of your educational backgrounds, but you need serious lessons in history. This country is on the path of implosion, and it's not because the government wants to "socialize" medicine, but it's because there are so any stupid people in this country: people with blind loyalty to parties regardless of the issues; people that don't have any opinions at all because they fail to think; people who are filled with so much hatred that they can't think straight... this country needs an awakening!

    May 24, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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