Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday that there was plenty of “sadness and disappointment” among the country’s conservative ranks after Rick Santorum suspended his campaign.
“I’m just trying to accurately describe the thinking and the feelings of a lot of people,” Limbaugh said on his three-hour program soon after Santorum announced that he was dropping out of the race. “There is a degree of sadness and disappointment over this, because of a lost opportunity … So where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us now where the establishment candidate is the nominee.”
The conservative radio host, who had refrained from endorsing a candidate in the GOP primary, described to listeners what he said had struck him as a “curious Republican primary” in which the GOP establishment had prioritized shoring up support among moderates instead of appealing first to the conservative voting bloc.
“It was remarkable. They had their candidate, which was Romney, and then all the others which were conservatives. We ended up splitting the conservative primary vote,” Limbaugh said, according to a transcript of his show.
The way that the nominating process had played out was “extremely frustrating” for many conservative voters, Limbaugh said, particularly following the landslide victory that the Republican Party celebrated during the 2010 midterm elections.
“I can’t tell you how that frustrated a lot of people who had such high hopes. People really had, because of the tea party and its success in 2010, the greatest of hopes and expectations that that would continue into the presidential year and be another shellacking all the way from top to bottom of the ballot with victory in the White House,” he said. “And now that hasn’t happened. So there is great disappointment.”
As he declared the primaries effectively “over,” Limbaugh also hinted at the possibility that the Romney campaign may begin to alter its message as it gets ready to battle President Barack Obama in the general election.
“It will be fascinating … to watch Romney and listen to the shape his campaign takes now, how ideological will his campaign be,” he said. “Will it be rooted in conservatism? He doesn’t have to talk conservative anymore. Will he continue to do so? We will find out. It won’t take very long.”