Tributes to the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh poured in on Wednesday following news of his death earlier in the day. He was 70 years old.
Former President Trump praised the talk show host as a “legend.”
“He was with me right from the beginning. And he liked what I said and he agreed with what I said. And he was just a great gentleman. Great man,” Trump said in a phone interview on Fox News.
Trump in February 2020 awarded Limbaugh a Presidential Medal of Freedom, shortly after Limbaugh’s lung cancer diagnosis.
“He was a very unique guy. And he had tremendous insight. He got it. He really got it,” Trump said on Wednesday.
Limbaugh’s brand of off-the-cuff, right-wing conservatism bought him a massive audience with Republican listeners who felt disengaged from what they viewed as a liberal media machine. His trademark brand of dismissing all things “politically correct” paved the way for content that later appeared on Fox News and Newsmax, and arguably set the stage for bombastic, controversy-courting politicians like Trump.
Former Vice President Mike Pence also weighed in on Limbaugh’s death, praising the host’s legacy.
“Rush Limbaugh gave voice to the ideals and values that made this country great, he inspired a generation of American conservatives, and he will be deeply missed. Rush Limbaugh made Conservatives proud and he made Conservatism fun,” Pence wrote on Twitter.
While many on the right cheered Limbaugh as a giant in the media landscape, not all tributes were sentimental.
Limbaugh regularly used his platform to punch down, including to make fun of dying AIDS patients, and has a history of racist and sexist remarks. He also peddled in the sort of conspiracy theories, including alleging “false flag” attacks during events of right-wing violence. Republican Joe Walsh, who ran against Trump in the 2020 primaries, called Limbaugh’s spread of disinformation and its pervasiveness in conservative media “the greatest harm of [his] legacy.”
When asked if President Biden would be issuing a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden sends his condolences to Limbaugh’s family.
“His condolences go out to the family and the friends of Rush Limbaugh, who have, of course, lost him today,” Psaki said. “I don’t know that I anticipate a statement from the president, but I can certainly pass on his condolences and expression of support for the family.”