Former President Donald Trump spoke for the first time publicly since leaving office to pay tribute to conservative radio superstar Rush Limbaugh.
In an interview on Fox News, Trump reflected on his brief, although impactful, relationship with Limbaugh, who died Wednesday following a long battle with lung cancer.
The former president said he had spoken with the talk radio icon just “three or four days ago.”
“I called him just to find out — you know, his fight was very, very courageous, and he was very, very sick, and, you know, from diagnosis on, it was just something that was not going to be beaten,” Trump said.
“He was very brave. I mean, he, in theory, could have been gone four months ago, really. He was fighting till the very end. He was a fighter. He was just a great gentleman.”
Fox News host Harris Faulkner asked Trump specifically about giving Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom during the State of the Union address last year.
“So I did tell him beforehand [about the receiving the medal] because we didn’t have, really, the power of not doing it. You know, Rush was very sick at the time, he was in a hospital in Boston, and I didn’t want to do the surprise thing. … It was a very difficult thing for him to come into Washington from where he was,” the former president said.
“Half of that room went crazy … the other half was totally dead silent, but 100 percent of that room respected Rush. He was a unique guy, and he was, he became a friend of mine.
“You know, I didn’t know Rush at all. I had essentially never met Rush. And then when we came down the escalator, he liked that rather controversial speech. … He was with me right from the beginning and he liked what I said and he agreed with what I said.”
“He’s irreplaceable. … He is a legend,” the former president said. “He really is. There aren’t too many legends around, but he was, he is a legend. And to those people that listened to him every day, like, it was like a religious experience for a lot of people. I mean, his fans, they just wouldn’t miss him. A very, very unique person.”
In addition, Trump released a statement through the Office of the Former President giving condolences to the family of Limbaugh.
“The great Rush Limbaugh has passed away to a better place, free from physical pain and hostility,” the former president said. “His honor, courage, strength, and loyalty will never be replaced.
“Rush was a patriot, a defender of Liberty, and someone who believed in all of the greatness our Country stands for. Rush was a friend to myself and millions of Americans — a guiding light with the ability to see the truth and paint vivid pictures over the airwaves.
“Melania and I express our deepest condolences to his wonderful wife, Kathryn, his family, and all of his dedicated fans. He will be missed greatly.”
Limbaugh’s wife announced his passing on Wednesday morning.
“As so many of you know, losing a loved one is terribly difficult. Even more so when that loved one is larger than life. Rush will forever be the greatest of all time,” Kathryn Limbaugh said on his radio show.
BREAKING: Rush Limbaugh's wife Kathryn announces on his radio show that he passed away this morning due to complications from lung cancer
"Rush will forever be the greatest of all time." pic.twitter.com/FSJTfmX8ZO
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 17, 2021
Whether one agreed or disagreed with him, he was undoubtedly one of the most influential voices in the history of talk radio and a trailblazer for conservative media.
Since “The Rush Limbaugh Show” began its journey on the national airwaves in 1988, it has inspired (and angered) millions of listeners and drove a new era of conservative thought.
I send hugs and prayers to his family, especially his brother @DavidLimbaugh who is one of the kindest and most considerate men I’ve ever met.
— Elisha (@ElishaKrauss) February 17, 2021
His provocative attitude and controversial stances helped revolutionize talk radio and ushered in a host of other personalities.
The conservative media giant will have a lasting legacy in the media landscape, and his work will likely be remembered as a cornerstone of American radio.