Limbaugh challenges Obama to debate

March 5, 2009 6:38:00 AM PST
Clearly enjoying the attention, radio host Rush Limbaugh today issued a debate challenge to President Obama, pitching the battle as one that will determine who will "own the United States of America."

"You're a very courageous man, Mr. President. I am, after all, just The Last Man Standing. If you take me out, if you can wipe me out in a debate and prove to the rest of America that what I say is senseless and wrong, do you realize you will own the United States of America? You will have no opposition," El Rushbo said on his program.

  • VOTE: Should Obama accept Limbaugh's challenge?
  • No falling back on fiscal hard times, either: "I will cover the cost, Mr. President, so that the taxpayers do not have to pay for it, as they did your Super Bowl party, and as they do your Wednesday afternoon cocktail party. So you have no excuses," he said.

    Egging him one, Rush continued: "I, Mr. President, will send my jet, EIB One, to pick you up and bring you here and take you back to wherever you want to go. You'd love it. It's not as big and luxurious as your jet, but it's got enough seats for your Secret Service detail. . . . I worked for it. I paid for it. Taxpayers pay you for your travel. Nobody pays me for mine. I pay for it. I pay for the airplane. I pay for the travel. I pay for practically everything I do. We can talk about that, too. I could tell you what that's like."

    No response yet from the White House. But after two straight days where Press Secretary Robert Gibbs talked extensively about Rush from the briefing room, challenging Republicans to say whether they, like Limbaugh, are rooting for the president "to fail," Gibbs was asked about why he's choosing to engage with Rush and on "cable chatter."

    "It may be counterproductive," Gibbs admitted, "It's out there. We deal with it. I don't -- I certainly criticize it, and I even occasionally watch it. I don't know if that makes me -- like I said, whether it makes me hypocritical or not, I certainly believe that feeding it -- undoubtedly, I'll plead guilty to counterproductive."

    UPDATE: That Gibbs response prompted a statement from Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va.: "Now that the Obama Administration has declared their own distractions, diversions and manipulations strategy to be counterproductive, House Republicans would like to see this Administration join us in our bipartisan national conversation about job creation, stimulating small business and middle class tax relief. They should apologize to the American people for supporting these tactics and get back to work."

    ABC News' Sunlen Miller and Mark Mooney contributed to this report.