Limbaugh: "I hope [the President] fails."

By Jim Acosta, CNN

Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is defending his stance that he wants President Obama to fail. He gave a long speech at a conservative political conference in DC over the weekend that has some republicans concerned.

"President Obama, your agenda's not new," said Limbaugh. "It's not change, and it's not hope."

At a conservative political conference, dressed in black, conservative talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh made no apologies for four words.

"I hope he fails," Limbaugh said.

It has ignited a fiery debate about the future of the republican party.

"I want Barack Obama to fail," said Limbaugh. "If his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation, [then] why would I want that to succeed?"

The standing ovations may explain why some GOP leaders are being cautious when they differ with Limbaugh.

"I don't think anyone wants anything to fail right now," said Representative Eric Cantor. "We have such challenges."

Consider Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey who recently blasted Limbaugh and other conservatives who he says "stand back and throw bricks."

Flooded with angry phone calls, Gingrey apologized on Limbaugh's show.

"I regret those stupid comments," said Gingrey.

"Well, look, I appreciate that," replied Limbaugh.

Some republican strategists see danger ahead.

"If we don't modernize conservatism, we're going to have a party of 25 percent of the vote going to Limbaugh rallies, enjoying every, every applause line, ripping the furniture up, said Mike Murphy, a republican strategist. "We're going to be in permanent minority status."

Democrats have pounced. From the White House chief of staff...

"He is the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the republican party, and he has been up front about what he views, and hasn't stepped back from that, which is he hopes for failure," said Rahm Emanuel.

The Limbaugh debate comes as republicans are searching for a new face. A straw poll held at that conservative conference was nearly a five way tie.

The man who won that straw poll, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, seemed to distance himself from Limbaugh telling the crowd at the conference, "We want our country to succeed no matter who's in power."

But he did not call Limbaugh out by name.