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These comments coincided with a political TV ad released Tuesday by Americans United for Change, a liberal political group, that painted Mr. Limbaugh as the Republican Party leader and asked viewers to “just say no to the politics of Rush Limbaugh.”

On Wednesday, David Plouffe, who ran Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign, wrote an 817-word op-ed in The Washington Post titled “Minority Leader Limbaugh.”

He also called Mr. Limbaugh the Republican Party’s leader but said his rhetoric was “like fingernails on a chalkboard” to most Americans, citing a raft of poll numbers that showed high approval ratings for Mr. Obama, and arguing that the Republican Party was being captured by its far right constituency to the detriment of their ability to attract support from moderates.

“If the GOP sticks with its strategy of failure as the only option, further eroding its brand with the people who decide elections, we may find out what it means for a political party to hit rock bottom,” Mr. Plouffe wrote.

Mr. Obama’s approval rating has indeed remained between 60 percent and 70 percent even as polls have showed public skepticism about portions of his economic agenda and severe anxiety about the economy.

Mr. Gibbs on Tuesday mocked Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele, who apologized to Mr. Limbaugh after calling the talk show host “incendiary” and his show “ugly” over the weekend.

“I was a little surprised at the speed in which Mr. Steele, the head of the RNC, apologized to the head of the Republican Party,” Mr. Gibbs said during his televised briefing with reporters.

On Wednesday, the House Democrats’ fundraising arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, sent out a letter mocking Mr. Steele and other Republicans who have crossed Mr. Limbaugh, only to apologize. The DCCC sent out an “I’m sorry Rush” form letter apology, calling it “the fastest and easiest way for a Limbaugh-Loving Republican to express the error of their ways to the king himself.”

But after Mr. Gibbs on Wednesday acknowledged his comments weren’t helping the discourse, Republicans leaders pounced.

“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,” said Brad Dayspring, spokesman for House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican.

“They should apologize to the American people for supporting these tactics and get back to work,” Mr. Dayspring said.

Mr. Limbaugh himself said the Democrats were playing rope-a-dope.

“Their standard operating procedure: They need a demon to distract and divert from what their agenda is. They need a demon about whom they can lie so as to persuade average Americans that they’re the good guys, the benevolent good guys, and the mean SOBs are their enemies trying to stop this great young little president from doing miraculous and wonderful things,” he said.

Conservative organizer Richard A. Viguerie, however, said the “Rushification of the GOP is inevitable … because no one else is acting like a Republican leader.”

“Limbaugh and [Fox News’ Sean] Hannity and most all of their conservative colleagues have something to say. They actually believe in something. They have the confidence of their convictions. They don’t cower in fear of the president’s popularity,” he said.

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