Limbaugh Laughably Denies He Has No Influence On Republicans

Responding to President Obama's statement that Republican members of Congress are afraid of Rush Limbaugh, the radio host claimed that Republicans are not listening to him -- despite Limbaugh's regular boasting about his influence on the Republican agenda and Republican politicians routinely backpedaling their criticism of him.

Limbaugh: “The Republicans Are Not Listening To Me!”

Obama: Republicans “Privately” Say They're Afraid Of “What Rush Limbaugh Is Going To Say About Me On The Radio.” While discussing Republican gridlock in Congress over upcoming budget talks in an interview on CNN, Obama said:

OBAMA: And then finally now what we've got is Republicans talking about the idea that they would shut down the government. Bad for the economy, bad for not just people who work for the government but all the contractors and defense folks and everybody who is impacted by the services that they receive from the federal government. We should shut that down because Republicans, after having taken 40 votes to try and get rid of Obamacare, see this as their last gasp.

Nobody thinks that's good for the middle class, and I've made this argument to my Republican friends privately. And by the way, sometimes they say to me privately, “I agree with you, but I'm worried about a primary from, you know, somebody in the Tea Party back in my district,” or, “I'm worried about what Rush Limbaugh is going to say about me on the radio. And so you've got to understand it's really difficult.” [CNN, New Day, 8/23/13]

Limbaugh: Obama “Recycled” Idea That Republicans Are “Afraid Of What I'm Going To say About Them.” Limbaugh responded to Obama's claim on his August 23 radio show:

LIMBAUGH: Well, [Obama's] going back and he recycled this idea that the Republicans are not cooperating with him because they're afraid of what I'm going to say about them. The Republicans are not listening to me! The true irony here is that the Republicans are not listening to me. I don't know who the Republicans are listening to outside of their consultants, but they're not listening to me. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/23/13]

Limbaugh Is Proud Of His Ability To Dictate GOP Agenda

Limbaugh: If Republicans “Cave” And Accept Debt Deal, “You Can Say Goodbye” To The RNC. From the July 8 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: I just want to tell you with extreme confidence that if any of this happens, if there is a cave by House Republicans on this debt limit -- if Obama gets what he wants, all of what he wants, as Kristol is alluding to here, and was backed up by other reports, then you can say goodbye to the Republican National Committee. It will implode. People will stop sending it money. You can say hello to an Obama second term, because there will be a third party. The Tea Party will organize as a third party, if there is a cave on this.

We could lower the debt ceiling and make our debt payments as I detailed yesterday. We are not at risk of default. We are not in danger of default. Anybody, either party, who says we are is engaging in demagoguery and the same classic Washington tactic of creating to you a crisis, an apocalyptic crisis, that has to be solved now or else. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/8/11]

Limbaugh Implies His Wishes Carry Greater Authority Than Those Of GOP Establishment. Discussing Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's controversial “legitimate rape” remarks, Limbaugh said that if he had explicitly asked Akin to leave, his voice would have swayed the congressman: “Folks, if I had demanded Akin drop out, he'd be gone.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/22/12, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh: “The Center Of The Universe Is Not The RNC. It's Right Here.” In 2010, Limbaugh crowned himself “the conservative leader,” declaring that “the center of the universe is not the RNC. It's right here.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/6/10, via Media Matters]

Lawmakers And GOP Officials Regularly Walk Back Their Criticism Of Limbaugh

RNC Chairman Walked Back Comment That Limbaugh Is An “Entertainer” And His Show Is “Incendiary” And “Ugly.” On the February 28, 2009, edition of CNN's D.L.Hughley Breaks the News, then-Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele “Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh, his whole thing is entertainment. Yes, he has this incendiary--yes, it's ugly.” Steele later apologized to Limbaugh, telling Politico:

“I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren't what I was thinking,” Steele said. “It was one of those things where I thinking I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people ... want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he's not.” [Politico, 3/9/09]

Rep. Gingrey Apologized After Saying It's “Easy” For Limbaugh To “Stand Back And Throw Bricks.” According to Politico, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) criticized Limbaugh for suggesting that Obama was “more frightened of me,” than the Republican leadership and that it “doesn't say much about our party,” saying:

[I]t's easy if you're Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don't have to try to do what's best for your people and your party. You know you're just on these talk shows and you're living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of thing.

In a later statement, Grinley apologized for the comments saying that he sees “eye to eye” with Limbaugh, and that conservative radio hosts “are the voices of the conservative movement's conscience,” that “we are inspired by their words and by their determination, and ”I regret and apologize for the fact that my comments have offended and upset my fellow conservatives--that was not my intent." [Politico, 1/28/09]

Gov. Sanford Backpedaled Comment That “Anyone Who Wants Obama To Fail Is An Idiot” After Limbaugh Response. In a February 25, 2009, interview with Real Clear Politics, then-South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said of Obama: “I don't want him to fail. Anybody who wants him to fail is an idiot, because it means we're all in trouble.” As ThinkProgress reported, Limbaugh responded to the comment on his February 26 radio show, saying “Hell we don't! We want something to blow up here politically. We want something to not go right.” Sanford's spokesperson later said “the governor was not referring to anyone” and was speaking “generically.” [, 2/26/09]

Rep. Tiahrt Hedges After Saying Limbaugh Is “Just An Entertainer.” During an April 2009 interview with the Kansas City Star, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) reportedly said Limbaugh is “just an entertainer,” in response to a question about “whether Limbaugh was now the de facto leader of the GOP.” The Wichita Eagle later reported:

Tiahrt spokesman Sam Sackett said Tiahrt was not speaking negatively about Limbaugh but was trying to defend him against the suggestion that Limbaugh could be blamed for the GOP's woes. 'The congressman believes Rush is a great leader of the conservative movement in America -- not a party leader responsible for election losses,' Sackett told The Eagle editorial board. 'Nothing the congressman said diminished the role Rush has played and continues to play in the conservative movement.' [The Wichita Eagle, WE Blog, 4/19/09]

Boehner Briefed Limbaugh On Debt-Ceiling Plan Before Unveiling To Rank-And-File GOP. Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner gave Limbaugh an advance look at the GOP's 2011 debt ceiling plan before the details were announced to the House GOP conference. As The Hill's Briefing Room Blog reported:

[It was]n't the first time Boehner has called Limbaugh to voice his position on the debt talks. Boehner also phoned in to Limbaugh's show last Friday to give him the inside scoop following reports that Republican leaders and the White House were close to finalizing a deal. [The Hill, Briefing Room, 7/25/11]

Darrell Issa Apologizes To Limbaugh For Going Off Message. Republican Rep. Darrell Issa came under fire from Limbaugh after suggesting that, if successful in the 2010 midterms, Republicans should to “create compromise and advance [the American people's] agenda” and “come together” with the Obama administration during an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Issa promptly appeared on Limbaugh's radio show to make amends -- first distancing himself from the article by noting that his quote was a distillation of a longer conversation, and eventually backing away from the “compromise” language to voice support for Limbaugh's preferred goal of simply “stopping Obama.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/19/10, via Media Matters]