Well, well, well. This makes it nearly unanimous among the conservative talk-radio leaders, with only Michael Medved dissenting. Rush Limbaugh, who had long resisted direct involvement in primary politics, has gone one step further than the anti-endorsement for John McCain that he has been delivering for the past couple of weeks (via Hot Air):
RUSH: I think now, based on the way the campaign has shaken out, that there probably is a candidate on our side who does embody all three legs of the conservative stool, and that’s Romney. The three stools or the three legs of the stool are national security/foreign policy, the social conservatives, and the fiscal conservatives. The social conservatives are the cultural people. The fiscal conservatives are the economic crowd: low taxes, smaller government, get out of the way.
Of course, the foreign policy crowd is obviously what it is. I don’t think there’s anybody on our side who doesn’t care about national security, which is why I found it amazing that McCain gets the bulk of those, because the idea that Romney or Huckabee are going to punt national security? In Huckabee’s case, you might just say the things he’s saying about it represent an ignorance born of inexperience in the subject. I don’t think Huckabee has any deleterious intentions about the country. When it comes to the fiscal side, you cannot say — you just cannot say — that John McCain is interested. He’s even admitted he’s not interested in the social side. He’s not interested in the economic side. He said this, and when he has spoken up about it, he sides more often with liberal Democrats on fiscal issues than he does with his own side. That’s problematic.
This is why I think — and why I have said — that the Republican Party, not conservatism, but the Republican Party is in big trouble if it is empowered and gets elected by attracting people who also hold liberal Democrat views simply because they like McCain because of his character, his honor, his prisoner of war story, and they don’t like Hillary or Obama.
Interesting point on national security, and one that doesn’t get aired all that often. I don’t entirely agree with Rush on McCain’s record on fiscal conservatism — he has been both a budget hawk and an outspoken voice against pork-barrel spending — but I’d say that he’s correct about McCain’s interest in social conservatism. That’s the arena where McCain has taken some joy in poking fingers into the eyes of the Right.
The big question, of course, is the timing. Did this come one day too late, right on time — or does this just confirm the direction in which Rush has been going all along? I think it’s the latter. Rush’s opposition to McCain probably has already created whatever impact it has for today. The bigger question is whether it can turn the race if Romney can keep it relatively close after tonight.