First, a note of thanks to Rush Limbaugh. I’m a longtime listener, though not a first-time topic, and to be mentioned on his show — not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions over the past few days — is quite an honor. It's also not exactly bad for business, given my line of work.
But for this to be the unalloyed positive it can be, I must set the record straight. Through a brief mention of me in a story in The Hill, the nation's most popular radio host concluded I am disloyal to Republicans, would not support the GOP ticket if Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzFunding bill rejected as shutdown nears Cruz: Clinton 'tired' and 'formulaic' during debate The Trail 2016: Fight night MORE (R-Texas) or Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump reports M in donations after debate Dem PAC launches new Spanish anti-Trump ad in Nevada Clinton won and Trump did no harm MORE emerged as the nominee, and advocate amnesty and greening the party.
For starters, he seems to think I wrote the article that angered him so. I did not. I was quoted in a three-paragraph section near the bottom of a story by Niall Stanage, a solid reporter.
Stanage's story made the point that Trump and Cruz were leading in polls despite having gone against the "autopsy" the party conducted after it lost the 2012 election, which suggested the party look to broaden its support by finding ways to appeal to ascendant demographic groups, such as single women, Hispanics and younger voters.
The money quote came not from me but from Henry Barbour, largely absent from Limbaugh's tirade, a co-author of the autopsy: "Attempting to appeal to only one segment of the population is bad for governing and even worse for winning a general election. And that's what Trump and Cruz are largely doing."
My part came further down. I was making the point — as I often do — that the party will have to figure out new ways to win as the country grows less white and more Hispanic and as fewer and fewer voters seek to relitigate the gay marriage issue.
I further made the point that if Cruz or Trump win, the people who are ready to start having those hard conversations about the future of the party will be pushed to the edge. That seems unarguable. Their way will have lost. Those conversations will take place because they must. But they will take place later.
That was my only point.
Rush's crack research team dug up a few other jewels from my past. I have said, and continue to say, that Republicans need to move past their President Reagan fetish. The Reagan coalition can't be recreated and should not be sought. Times and needs have changed and continuing to venerate Reagan falls on deaf ears of actual millennials, and allows Democrats to paint us as the party of the past.
Limbaugh also brought up the deliberately flippant chapter title, "Hugging the Gays — No, Really," from my book. I've never said that the Republican Party should endorse the LGBT agenda. What I mean is that the issue should be decided in the states, which a lot of conservatives say, and that interest in the issue is waning, particularly among younger voters. So absent an earth-shattering court reversal, it is probably time to move on.
For the record, I think Rush is absolutely right that the focus should be on opposing the Democratic presidential candidates, any of whom would be a disaster, and the Democratic policies that have brought the country to its knees.
I have not yet publicly supported, nor personally donated to, any Republican presidential candidate. I've written and spoken glowingly about both the effectiveness of the Cruz campaign and the way Trump has turned the media on their heads.
If Trump or Cruz wins the nomination, I will support either one with contributions and in any other way either candidate sees fit. And I will do so as enthusiastically as I would for any other Republican candidate who emerges.
This is the election of a lifetime. Our place on the world stage can't endure even four more years of Democratic incompetence. Our economy can't stand any more of the ludicrous tax and regulatory policies of this administration. Our healthcare system can't survive four more years of the Affordable Care Act.
Moreover, the Supreme Court will be remade in the next president's term, with as many as three to four new justices appointed. It's no time to sit on the sideline. Once we have a nominee, all of us will need to join forces, put aside arguments and put our shoulders to the wheel to get our candidate over the top.
Again, I am gratified for the mentions, just as I was when Rush unleashed a similar broadside on similarly slippery grounds back in February 2012. And I wish I held as much sway over the Republican Party in Washington as he seems to think.
But the fact is that I would never abandon our nominee. I am 100 percent in favor of the Republican candidate winning the 2016 presidential election, and I then would hope that president would govern as a strong conservative.
If it means going off the Republican National Committee song sheet to win, so be it. If it means winning not because the principles of the "autopsy" were honored, but because the country fears Democrats don't have a handle on national security or the economy, so be it.
But at some point, whether Rush Limbaugh likes it or not, we will need to have the conversation about what our party should look like in 2028 and 2032 and 2044, when the nation no longer is majority white. That is all I was saying. And if Rush would like to chat about that on the air, I would be more than happy to do so.
O'Connell is the chairman of CivicForumPAC, worked on John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and is author of the book "Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery."