Limbaugh’s wife Kathryn confirmed his death at the beginning of Limbaugh’s radio show, from which he’d been absent for almost two weeks. The 70-year-old radio icon, who made right-wing radio financially viable in American media and himself a Republican kingmaker years before Fox News, revealed in 2020 that his lung cancer was terminal.
In a phone interview with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner and Bill Hemmer, former President Donald Trump said Wednesday he last talked to Limbaugh “three or four days ago. His fight was very, very courageous and he was very, very sick.”
“In theory, he could have been gone four months ago, really. He was fighting to the end. He was a fighter,” Trump said. “He was just a great gentleman.”
Trump said he first met Limbaugh after he began his 2016 presidential campaign and the two got along personally. “He was with me right from the beginning,” Trump said of the talk show host.
“Rush is irreplaceable, unique. He had an audience that was massive. … He would get up in the show and just talk. He wouldn’t take phone calls, where people would call in every two minutes. That’s sort of easy to do. He would just talk for two hours or three hours, just talk,” Trump said. “That’s not an easy thing to do. I once asked him, I said, ‘Do you study for the show?’ He said, ‘Actually, I study very hard,’ which a little bit surprised me. He was a fantastic man, a fantastic talent. People, whether they loved him or not, they respected him. They really did.”
Trump credited Limbaugh for promoting his presidential bid and said “he had an incredible instinct for politics.”
“He was a very unique guy,” Trump told Fox. “He had tremendous insight; he really got it.”
Fox confined its questions to Limbaugh’s death. But at several points, Trump repeated his protests of his election loss to President Joe Biden, claiming Limbaugh agreed with his protests. “Rush felt we won, and he was quite angry about it,” Trump claimed.
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., called Limbaugh “a true American legend” on Twitter.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro also offered his thoughts.
“RIP Rush Limbaugh, the creator of talk radio and by extension the alternative media, an indispensable and iconic conservative voice,” Shapiro tweeted.
Bill O’Reilly reflected on Limbaugh’s iconic career.
“The legacy of Rush Limbaugh is clear: the most successful radio broadcaster in history. Mr. Limbaugh provided a conservative balance against the dangerous left wing corporate media machine,” he tweeted.
Former Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs also referred to Limbaugh as a “great American” on Twitter.
“Broadcast Legend Rush Limbaugh has died. His legions of fans will miss him, and his powerful and bright contribution to our national dialogue is a treasure that will endure for decades to come,” Dobbs tweeted. “Rush Limbaugh, a great American, dead at 70. God bless you Rush.”
Keith Olbermann recalled a time he saw Limbaugh at ESPN.
“All I can think of is the Sunday circa ‘94 I arrived at my desk at ESPN to find an awestruck Rush Limbaugh standing there looking into the ESPN Newsroom, gushing over our work, and quietly saying ‘I’d trade everything I’ve ever had if I could co-host SportsCenter.’ Wish he had,” Olbermann tweeted.
Kellyanne Conway offered her condolences and praised Limbaugh on Twitter.
“Rush Limbaugh was an architect of the center-right movement, defined & dominated political talk radio for decades & gave daily voice to millions of pro-freedom Americans. Rush’s inimitable influence inspires his listeners & inflames his critics,” she wrote.
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton wrote on Twitter: “Rush Limbaugh was a giant. With his straightforward, simple articulation of conservatism, he inspired millions. He was one-of-a-kind and he will be missed.”
Fellow conservative TV host Jeanine Pirro referred to the late host as an “icon.”
“An icon of conservative thinking and a master of communication. We have lost a great American. Rest in peace, Rush Limbaugh,” Pirro tweeted.
Commentator Steven Crowder said Limbaugh paved the way for conservative radio.
“No conservative would have a voice on ANY platform today if not for Rush Limbaugh. The world is a sadder place with him not in it,” he tweeted.
A few others reflected on Limbaugh’s controversial legacy, criticizing moments in his past.
“Yeah lol rush limbaugh like top 5 racists in modern history,” Manny Fidel, a columnist for Business Insider tweeted alongside a compilation video of Limbaugh talking about race and consent.
Contributing: Maria Puente, Bill Keveney, David Jackson