This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," September 4, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Obviously, the race is officially on and really behind us and it is not getting -- it could get more exciting two surprise tickets. Who would have guessed this one year ago? In a few minutes you'll learn new information about Governor Palin and hear for first time from her husband, plus Newt Gingrich is here.
But first, radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, who gets out to a gazillion listeners every single day joins us on the phone. Rush, what did you think of the speech tonight?
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST (Through phone): You know, I was surprised by the speech. I think, a lot of people's expectations for Senator McCain's speech were somewhat low because it's not his strong suit. But I figured, a lot can be said about this speech. It was inspiring; it had a story art to it, that I was surprised to hear (ph).
I think, Senator McCain tonight, it seemed like he went off the teleprompter when he started telling his story about his imprisonment in Vietnam. I think one of the many points that could be discussed about his speech tonight is that he beautifully explained the theme of his campaign - - country first. You know this could have been a trap, but it wasn't a trap because Obama just doesn't have the same life experiences of John McCain nor of Sarah Palin. The contrast in character, commitment, life experiences, rich, full American life, both McCain and Palin contrasted to Obama is just striking.
These differences were laid bare tonight. So, when McCain's theme of "country first" became known, Greta, some of the Obama team said this is a slam that McCain was taking a shot at them. Obama said the same thing. He thought that -- McCain was attacking his patriotism and that's because Obama gets self-centered. He thinks everything is about him. He thought he was the target. McCain's campaign was revolving around him. But when we saw the speech unfold, we saw the story art. It was about the journey of a man who started out as a "me first" hotshot fighter pilot and I can understand why Obama might have been taking this personally, but I don't think McCain was attacking Obama here at all. I think he was baring his soul, "Here's who I am. Here's how I started out. Here's what transformed me into a country-first person."
I actually thought that it was much better than I was expecting. And I thought Cindy McCain was good tonight. We saw her for the first time in a forum like this. But the bottom line is this -- what's happened here this week is that Sarah Palin has united the base of the party, united the convention here. She has now assumed the mantle of leader of the conservative movement. This has brought the Republican Party back to a conservative party; no better thing could have happened than that this week. So, all in all, I think those of us who understand that we are in war, not just a battle here, you know, the Democrats want to redefine what Americanism is. McCain tonight defined what Americanism is that we want to preserve. And that is individuals working for themselves, the assistance of government when necessary, committed to their country, understanding why it's the greatest on earth. It was really good I thought, all the way around.
VAN SUSTEREN: How does he or even Senator Obama reach those undecideds between now and election night?
LIMBAUGH: Did you say how does McCain reach them?
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes. I mean, how does he reach the undecideds?
LIMBAUGH: Well, I think that's the -- look, actually, it's one of the brilliant things about selecting Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin now has taken care of what McCain can't. McCain cannot rally the conservative base. He just -- it's not who he. I'm not being critical. It's just not who he is. But she is, she can. That will free McCain to go pursue his precious independents and moderates and so forth which, he, I mean, he gets very excited about doing. I think that he has the ability with the foundation that was laid this week, his speech, large audience last night for Sarah Palin. I think his appeal, country first -- that ending his speech tonight, that crescendo built, "Fight with me, join with me," he didn't stop for the applause, kept going. I mean, it was genuinely inspirational.
And I just heard Karl Rove say, he's right about this, the bloom is off the Obama rose. This messiah, the one, the anointed one, he's become a standard hack politician now. He does not hold this magical appeal to people who are not politically-oriented because of their age. So, I think this is -- look, I think Obama and Biden are in a position of great vulnerability and they woke up today in great fear and they should be because I don't think Obama has the temperament to lead. He thinks everything's about him; everything is a slam against him. He still has that attitude about himself that he's above criticism. I think it's going to be fun. This campaign is actually going to be fun now.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think about the public treatment, at least the media treatment, of Governor Palin in the past couple of days?
LIMBAUGH: Actually, you know, it's despicable and it's disgusting, but as she said last night, there's good in everything. You look for blessings where you find them. We're finding out exactly what who the allies of the Democrat Party are and we're finding out -- it's blatant now. It's there for the country to see. The Democrat party cannot defeat the people in the arena of ideas. They have to destroy them personally from Clarence Thomas to Robert Bork to an endless list of people, that threaten Democrats simply by their character and their existence. But she fights back. She is going to fight back. And this attempt to portray her as inexperienced doesn't work, so then they're trying to appeal to her, portray her as trailer trash. That isn't going to work because she's genuine, she's authentic and who she is trumps all of these efforts to mischaracterize her.
VAN SUSTEREN: From Senator Obama's point of view, do you think Senator Biden was a really good strategic choice for the Democratic Party?
LIMBAUGH: Well, he can dream all he wants. You know, I don't really mean to sound critical, I mean, I don't understand the choice at all. Here's a guy who was run out of the Democrat presidential race in 1988 for plagiarism and a number of other things. Here's a guy who barely got what -- 2 percent or 3 percent in Iowa this year. I don't get. I think it was a pick of weakness. It was an admission that Obama doesn't have a clue on foreign policy. And I'm going to tell you -- this was funny, too. Greta. I had to laugh at this. Earlier this week, there were Internet sites that take (INAUDIBLE) on public events so we can place a bet -- there were some people in the media speculating how long it would be before McCain dropped Palin. I think the question is going to be -- how long is it going to be before Obama figures out he needs somebody besides Biden on the ticket because this isn't going -- it's totally backfiring. Sarah Palin is the change that Obama has been talking about but she's on the other ticket.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you really think there's a chance that Senator Obama would dump Senator Biden from the ticket at this point?
LIMBAUGH: Well, it wouldn't happen that way . There would be some unfortunate reason for this to happen. I guarantee you. Look, I saw, I saw, I watched all the networks -- when the drive-by media supporting Obama starts speculating as I saw last night -- "Maybe do you think he should have put Hillary on the ticket" -- that tells me that they're already talking about it behind closed doors in the Obama campaign.
I can't predict the future but, you know, as badly as they want to win -- you've got to understand their mindset, they thought this was a coronation, this was slam-dunk. They're going to win the White House 60- 40, in the landslide, they're going to win the House and the Senate, and now, they are totally discombobulated. They don't know what to do, where to go. The bloom is off of the rose. In one poll today, pre-Palin, pre-Palin. It was tied. Fifty to 49, 49 to 49, whatever it is, this is not where they expected to be. And that kind of shock sends them reeling. This is -- think of Wellstone Memorial 2002.
That's where they are here. They thought they were going to slam-dunk with that performance and they ended up impending and infuriating Americans all over the country who really didn't care much about politics in some cases and they're doing the same thing here with their attack on Sarah Palin and their arrogant condescension that they are the ones, the majority of America ns agree with them. You know, you have to make that happen. You don't just get out of bed and it happens. And they live this myth and this lie that they're the power, that they're the majority, it isn't true. And it's going to be proven out again here in November.
VAN SUSTEREN: Rush, thank you as always. Rush Limbaugh joining us by phone. Thank you, Rush.
LIMBAUGH: It's always a pleasure, Greta. See you next time.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Rush.
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