Republicans across the political spectrum rallied on conservative talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh after the news of his death Wednesday from lung cancer complications.
The leader among them was former President Donald Trump, who called Limbaugh a “legend” and “fantastic” in an interview with Fox News.
“He would just talk for two hours, three hours, just talk, and that’s not an easy thing to do,” Trump said. “And once I asked him, I said do you study for the show? And he actually told me, ‘I study very hard … That, a little bit, surprised me. But he was a fantastic man, a fantastic talent. “
The former president also used the opportunity to spread the lie that he actually won the last election, saying that Limbaugh thought so too.
“Well, Rush thought we won, and I did, by the way,” Trump said, adding Limbaugh “was quite angry about it, quite angry.”
Limbaugh’s death marked the end of a three-decade career that led to the conservative radio talk scene and served as a defining voice on the right. Limbaugh, whom Trump honored last year by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was long condemned as a fanatic by critics for its long history of sexist, homophobic and racist remarks about public figures like Chelsea Clinton and former President Barack Obama, among others.
For his fans, who called themselves “dittoheads” and numbered in the millions, Limbaugh provided a way out for right-wing discourse that was not featured in the mainstream media.
“While he was courageous, sometimes controversial and always thoughtful, he spoke his mind as a voice to millions of Americans and approached every day with joy,” former President George W. Bush said in a statement. “As he struggled with hearing loss and cancer at the end of his life, he was supported by the support of friends and family, his love of sports and rock ‘n’ roll, and his faith in God and country. Rush Limbaugh was a soul unyielding with a great heart, and he shall perish.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Limbaugh a “media trace of generations.”
“He gave a voice to millions of conservative Americans whom the mainstream media had not even tried to represent,” McConnell said. “His influence is impossible to overestimate. Let him rest in peace.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Limbaugh “revolutionized American radio.”
“His voice led the conservative movement for millions every day,” he wrote. “Rest in peace, hurry.”
Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Called Limbaugh, a Missouri native, “a voice for a voice.”
“He changed the talk radio, but more importantly, Rush changed the talk to talk about forgetting and challenging creation,” he said. “He lived the First Amendment and told tough truths that made the elite uncomfortable, but ensured that the men and women who worked had a place at the table.”
There was little reaction from Democrats to the news of Limbaugh’s death. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said “Biden’s condolences go to Rush Limbaugh’s family and friends.”
Progressive online figures also tried to ensure that the story of Limbaugh’s inflammatory words was not left out in the discussion of his death.
“Rush Limbaugh helped create a polarized America today by normalizing racism, bigotry, misogyny and ridicule.” cicerone Shannon Watts, founder of the Moms Demand Action weapons control group. “He was a demagogue who was enriched by hate speech, dissension, lies and toxicity. That is his legacy.”
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