Rush Limbaugh’s Silent Influence

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Rush Limbaugh’s silence regarding endorsements in the conservative South Carolina Republican primary is deafening. Although Limbaugh has gone on record as saying that he doesn’t endorse candidates in the primaries, he has said complimentary things about former Senator Fred Thompson. Limbaugh is against the candidacies of McCain and former Governor Huckabee, neither of whom he regards as conservative enough.

But the radio host reserves a special hostility for Huckabee. On yesterday’s program he replayed several times a clip in which the former Arkansas Governor admitted to cooking squirrels in a popcorn cooker as a college student, clearly playing on class resentments. As David Brooks describes it in today’s Times, ”Rush Limbaugh is currently going bananas because Mike Huckabee threatens to disrupt the community of conservative dittoheads he has spent decades cohering.”

Michael Levenson of The Boston Globe sees Limbaugh as as being crypto-pro Romney. Levenson writes:

”Limbaugh, who makes a point of saying he does not officially endorse in the primaries, has nonetheless praised Romney effusively, repeated Romney’s policy talking points, defended him against attacks from fellow conservatives, and after Romney’s win in Michigan this week, declared him the front-runner.”

Even without formally endorsing a candidate, Limbaugh has conveyed to fans that he is against McCain and Huckabee and wouldn’t mind Romney or Thompson. Limbaugh, who has over 13 million listeners on 600 stations, has great influence among the conservative base in the Republican party. And conservatives are critical to primary states that don’t allow Independents to vote.

(image via papundits)