Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), himself a former radio talker, took to the House floor to take on reports that Republican politicians were afraid conservative talkers on radio and TV were damaging their chances to regain Congress.
Although Pence directed his remarks to “the mainstream media,” he mentioned one article in particular, which is believed to have appeared in inside-the-Beltway pub Politico. That piece suggested that Republican congressional leadership was worried that extremely popular media figures like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck were successfully drumming up political fervor among the right wing of the party, but at the same time were distancing the party from the middle.
On the floor, Pence said, “You know, the American people cherish their freedom of speech and a free and independent press. That’s why I found this morning’s headlines so troubling. Goaded on by a White House increasingly intolerant of criticism, lately the national media has taken aim at conservative commentators in radio and television. Suggesting that they only speak for a small group of activists and even suggesting in one report today that Republicans in Washington are ‘worried about their electoral effect.’
“Well, that’s hogwash.
“To suggest that men and women that are taking a stand for fiscal discipline and traditional values in the national debate today only speak for ‘grassroots activists’ is absurd. As evidenced by the hundreds of thousands that filled town hall meetings this summer and the nearly a million Americans who gathered here in Washington in September. Millions of Americans, Republicans, Democrats and Independents are worried about liberal social policies and runaway federal spending, deficit and debt.
“So to my friends in the so-called ‘mainstream media’ I say, ‘conservative talk show hosts may not speak for everybody but they speak for more Americans than you do.'”
RBR-TVBR observation: A look at the special House election in the New York 23rd District shows that anonymous Republicans may be correct to worry. The Party ran a moderate candidate to compete in a purple district – an action which drew an independent candidate to right of the Republican, and putting what was a Republican seat in danger of moving to the Democrats.
There is an issue with the “nearly a million Americans” comment Pence made. If he’s referring to the Taxpayer March on Washington 9/12/09, there have been several attendance estimates, and “nearly a million” is doubtful.
Here are some relevant numbers: Glenn Beck estimated off the top of his head that there were maybe over a million people there. Event organizer Freedom Works put the number at 600K-800K. The entire resident population of Washington DC is about 592K. The Obama inauguration, which was held in the same part of DC as the Taxpayer March and was wall-to-wall people, was estimated at 400K. The DC Fire Department estimated the Taxpayer March at 75+. Does anybody know for sure? No — but “nearly a million” is a stretch.