When John McCain trounced George W. Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire primary by a surprising margin, it posed the question whether the inevitability of Bush’s nomination would happen. Limbaugh warned that even though the media is “orgasmic” over McCain now, they are “love ’em and leave ’em liberals” if he is the Republican nominee (a prediction given credence by the 2008 election).

The National Annenberg Election Study found that post New Hampshire primary, listening to Limbaugh negatively affected the voters feelings about McCain. This is significant since Limbaugh’s focus on McCain really began after the senator’s victory in New Hampshire. The Annenberg study also found that the impression Republican voters in Super Tuesday states had of McCain took a negative turn after listening to Limbaugh.

In 1993, Christie Whitman was running an uphill race against New Jersey Governor Jim Florio. She won by a slim margin and credited Bob Grant with helping her get elected. In 1994, Grant even hit the campaign trail for George Pataki, proclaiming, “We get the chance to show Mario the door in ‘94.” He would regularly bring Pataki on the air and introduce him as “the next governor of the state of New York.”

Pataki, felt most of the New York media was solidly behind Gov. Mario Cuomo, and had already written him off. “Whenever I wanted to talk to the people, I’d call Bob Grant,” Pataki said. One week prior to the November 1994 gubernatorial election, Cuomo led by double digits in most polls. However, Pataki’s numerous appearances on Grant’s show, and Grant’s own crusade against Cuomo—whom he called “Il Supremo” led to a stunning victory for Pataki, who would go on to serve three terms.

The Gray Davis re-election celebration had barely ended when on December 30, 2002 on San Francisco’s KSFO, Melanie Morgan first mentioned the possibility of a recall.

“I have been dubbed ‘the Mother of the Recall’ but I think Gray Davis thinks of me as just a real mother bleeper,” Morgan joked. “I was thrilled by the response, because it was exactly what I envisioned would happen. But I did not expect other talk radio hosts to jump onboard so quickly. Radio show hosts are feral animals, and they usually do not want to become involved with an idea or concept that another host was pushing. This time was different. And everyone could take a piece of the credit because it took a sustained political effort, a daily push, to get the buzz, build the anticipation for change, and demand action from the citizens of California.”

Tax reformer Ted Costa and Sacremento talk radio host Eric Hogue organized “drive by signings,” where state residents could sign a recall petition at orange-coned drive-up lanes that offered coffee and donuts.

“When the numbers showed that the Governor was officially finished, I quietly cried. I offered up a prayer for Gray Davis and his family,” Morgan said. “I did not expect to be so emotional, but it was the first time in my adult life where I witnessed citizen activism challenge and change the system.”


Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for CNSNews.com and a contributing editor for Townhall Magazine. He is the author of The Right Frequency: The Story of the Talk Radio Giants Who Shook Up the Political and Media Establishment.