Former President Donald Trump called in to Fox News Wednesday to offer his remembrances of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who died at the age of 70 after being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer last year.
“He was a fantastic man,” Trump said. “A fantastic talent. People, whether they loved him or not, they respected him. They really did.”
Trump recalled how Limbaugh was one of the first national media personalities to back his 2016 presidential campaign.
“He became a friend of mine. You know, I didn’t know Rush at all,” Trump explained. “I had essentially never met Rush. And then when we came down the escalator he liked my rather controversial speech.”
"I always seem to like people who like me,” the former president said. “It's much easier. Call that a weakness.”
Trump, who had not given a formal interview since before the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, repeated the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him — and said Limbaugh believed that it was, too.
"Rush thought we won, and so do I," Trump said. "I think we won substantially."
"You don't know how angry this country is,” he added. “We should have had it."
Neither Harris Faulkner nor Bill Hemmer, the two Fox News hosts who interviewed Trump on Wednesday, pushed back on the former president’s false claims of election fraud.
"The great Rush Limbaugh has passed away to a better place, free from physical pain and hostility," Trump said in a formal statement later issued by his office. "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."
Last year, Trump awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his State of the Union address shortly after the controversial host’s diagnosis was made public.
“Almost every American family knows the pain when a loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness. Here tonight is a special man, he’s loved by millions of Americans, who just received a stage IV advanced cancer diagnosis,” Trump said in a portion of his speech that focused on health care. “This is not good news, but what is good news is that he is the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet. Rush Limbaugh, thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country.”
Limbaugh’s wife announced his death at the top of his syndicated radio show Wednesday.
“Rush was an extraordinary man,” Kathryn Limbaugh said. “A gentle giant. Brilliant, quick-witted, genuinely kind. Extremely generous. Passionate. Courageous. And the hardest-working person I know."
She added: "From today on, there will be a tremendous void in our lives, and on the radio."
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