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Rush: White House Wants To "Malign Me"

(AP Photo/Gary He)
On "Face The Nation" Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said radio host Rush Limbaugh "is the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party."

Emanuel noted that Limbaugh has said he hopes President Obama will fail.

"He said it," said the chief of staff. "And I compliment him for his honesty, but that's their philosophy that is enunciated by Rush Limbaugh. And I think that's the wrong philosophy for America."

Limbaugh is now responding to the "ongoing game of naming me the head of the Republican Party."

"The point here is to take me ... malign me, take me out of context, what I said, attach it to the Republican Party in general because President Obama wants no debate," Limbaugh said, according to Time. "President Obama wants no discussion. President Obama, as has been his modus operandi since he got into politics, is not a level playing field, is to clear the playing field and he has, of course, this army of the drive-by media assisting at every turn."

"It is cruel because it is a game of manipulation emanating from the Oval Office," he added. "It is an attempt to distract Americans from the destruction of their ability to earn a living."

At the White House press briefing this afternoon, press secretary Robert Gibbs discussed Limbaugh and his comments, saying he "could only imagine" the response had a Democrat suggested a few years ago he hoped President Bush would fail.

Gibbs, pictured below, said Limbaugh "doubled down on what he said in January in wishing and hoping for economic failure in this country" during a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend.

The speech, Gibbs told reporters, appeared to be "quite popular at the room in which he spoke."

Asked if the White House was elevating Limbaugh as a political tactic, Gibbs said, "I think he elevated himself."

Gibbs also called the radio host "somebody that seems to be, maybe for lack of a better word, a national spokesperson for conservative views."

In his well-received keynote speech at CPAC, Limbaugh asked, "What is so strange about being honest and saying, I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation? Why would I want that to succeed?"

The comment received a standing ovation.

UPDATE, 3:35 PM ET: In an interview with CNN, newly-elected Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele said that he – not Limbaugh – is "the de facto leader of the Republican Party."

He also offered some harsh words for the radio host.

"Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer," Steele said. "Rush Limbaugh's whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly."

Responded Limbaugh: "I'm not in charge of the Republican Party, and I don't want to be. I would be embarrassed to say that I'm in charge of the Republican Party in a sad-sack state that it's in. If I were chairman of the Republican Party, given the state that it's in, I would quit."

As CNN points out, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor has also distanced himself from Limbaugh, telling ABC News yesterday that "I don't think anyone wants anything to fail right now."

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