Donald Trump has told an emotional Sean Hannity that their mutual friend Rush Limbaugh was ‘the king’ of conservative radio, as Mike Pence described him as ‘an inspiration and an anchor of conservatism.’
Limbaugh died at home in Palm Beach, Florida, on Wednesday at the age of 70, after a battle with lung cancer.
Trump, who had remained silent since leaving the White House on January 20, stormed back onto cable news on Wednesday to celebrate the life of the influential radio host who, Trump said, had ‘been there from the start’.
Donald Trump has paid tribute to his friend Rush Limbaugh, pictured in April 2019
Trump and Limbaugh at a November 2018 rally in Limbaugh’s home state of Missouri
‘It was an honor to know him,’ Trump told Hannity.
‘I got to know him right after coming down the escalator. He was there right from the beginning.
‘It’s like you, you are so great, and Rush was so great, and it was something very special to know him. A very terrific man.’
Trump described Limbaugh as ‘irreplacable’, adding: ‘He was the king’.
‘He was a brilliant guy, just a totally brilliant guy,’ said Trump.
‘He could do things a lot of people couldn’t do. He could just talk for three hours, no phone calls, no anything, just talk and everybody found it spellbinding.’
Trump on Wednesday night rang Hannity’s show to praise his late friend
Limbaugh, who announced his terminal cancer diagnosis a year ago, is seen in February 2020
Hannity pointed out that Limbaugh, a frequent golf partner of Trump’s, promoted many of the same ideals as the former president – ‘conservative justices, liberty, freedom, less government intrusion, less regulation, less taxes, lower taxes, energy independence, secure borders, choice in schools, the Second Amendment, free and fair trade, peace through strength.’
Trump agreed, noting: ‘He was right there. He understood it. He got it and he’s been that way for a long time.’
Trump said he will miss him, concluding: ‘Big impact. Great guy’.
Pence, who was himself a conservative radio host before entering politics, also paid tribute.
‘I was just a fan of Rush Limbaugh,’ said Pence, saying he would ‘describe myself as Rush Limbaugh on decaf.’
Pence, 61, told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham that Limbaugh was an inspiration.
Mike Pence, a former radio host, is pictured on the Rush Limbaugh Show on February 28, 2020
‘During my years in the House and my years as governor and my years serving alongside President Trump, Rush Limbaugh was an inspiration and an anchor of conservatism,’ he said.
‘I will always be grateful.’
Pence highlighted Limbaugh’s wit, noting: ‘He not only made conservatives proud, he made conservatism fun. I gleaned that attitude from years of listening to Rush Limbaugh, and having my own radio program. He would educate and inform and inspire but he was just a showman.’
The former vice president, who hosted a radio show in Indiana from the early 1990a to 1999, said that Limbaugh’s success was due to his ‘heart’.
‘And he had an immense intellect, and a capacity to articulate conservative ideals and American principals like very few of his time,’ said Pence.
‘When you listen every day, as millions do, you get to know the man. He had tremendous heart.
‘He loved the people he was talking to. He believed in the boundless potential of every American. And I really believe the best of America is yet to come.
‘There will never be another like Rush Limbaugh.’
Pence said that he and Trump knew they had a strong ally in Limbaugh.
‘All of what President Trump brought to the White House was sustained by a chorus of conservatives across the country,’ said Pence.
‘America will miss his voice, and we will miss his friendship.’