Rush Limbaugh may command a large following, but his caustic comments Monday about the GOP’s congressional leadership have one of the House’s leading conservatives defending his colleagues and offering an unusually candid critique of the talk radio powerhouse and his fellow commentators.
Responding to President Obama’s recommendation to Republican congressional leaders last week that they not follow Limbaugh’s lead, the conservative talkmeister said on his show that Obama is “obviously more frightened of me than he is Mitch McConnell. He's more frightened of me, than he is of, say, John Boehner, which doesn't say much about our party."
Rep. Tom Price, who heads the conservative Republican Study Committee, did not take kindly to this assessment in an interview with Politico Tuesday.
“I think that our leadership, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, are taking the right approach,” Price said. “I mean, it’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 that thing. But when it comes to true leadership, not that these people couldn’t be or wouldn’t be good leaders, they’re not in that position of John Boehner or Mitch McConnell.
Asked to respond to Price, Limbaugh, in an email to Politico, wrote: “I don't know Tom Price. I'm sure he is doing his best but it does not appear to be good enough. He may not have noticed that the number of Republican colleagues he has in the House has dwindled. And they will dwindle more if he and his friends don't show more leadership and effectiveness in battling the most left-wing agenda in modern history. And they won't continue to lose because of me, but because of their relationship with the grassroots, which is hurting. Conservatives want leadership from those who claim to represent them. And we'll know it when we see it.”
The back and forth comes as some on the right speak more openly about what they perceive as the lack of leadership in the Republican Party. Unapologetic conservatives, like Limbaugh would prefer to see elected Republicans confront the new president. But many GOP officials, daunted by the new president’s approval rating and what they believe is fatigue on the part of voters over partisan fighting, are loathe to openly criticize Obama.