Rush Limbaugh, the renowned conservative radio host who transformed talk radio and politics itself over the course of four decades, died Wednesday following a battle with lung cancer. He was 70.
Limbaugh’s popular daytime show, The Rush Limbaugh Show, debuted nationally in 1988, helping turn the struggling AM radio band into a profitable medium.
He was the voice of conservatism for multiple generations of Americans, with his show spanning parts of seven presidential administrations: Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden.
“He was special,” Trump said Wednesday on Fox News. “... He is irreplaceable. … He was a fantastic man and a fantastic talent.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence called Limbaugh the “anchor of conservatism.”
“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 tweeted.
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.— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) February 17, 2021
Limbaugh was the bestselling author of several books, including The Way Things Ought to Be; See, I Told You So; and a popular Rush Revere series for children.
During the 1990s, he even hosted his own television show.
He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer last year. In October, he said he felt blessed to wake up each day.
“You know, I wake up every day and thank God that I did. I go to bed every night praying I’m gonna wake up. I don’t know how many of you do that, those of you who are not sick, those of you who are not facing something like I and countless other millions are. But it’s a blessing when you wake up. It’s a stop-everything-and-thank-God moment,” he said.
He said his faith gave him strength.
“I mentioned at the outset of this —the first day I told you —that I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is of immense value, strength, confidence, and that’s why I’m able to remain fully committed to the idea that what is supposed to happen will happen when it’s meant to,” he said in October.
“There’s some comfort in knowing that some things are not in our hands,” he said. “There’s a lot of fear associated with that, too, but there is some comfort. … It’s helpful to be able to trust and to believe in a higher plan.”
Limbaugh often alluded to his faith at the outside of radio broadcasts by saying his talent “was on loan from God.”
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem referenced Limbaugh’s popular tagline in a tribute Wednesday.
“Rush Limbaugh often said ‘I have talent on loan from God.’ He understood that our gifts on this earth are not our own — they’re a blessing,” Noem tweeted. “He shared his gifts with all of us. And we’ll miss him dearly.”
Rush Limbaugh often said “I have talent on loan from God.” He understood that our gifts on this earth are not our own — they’re a blessing. He shared his gifts with all of us. And we’ll miss him dearly.— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) February 17, 2021
Radio host Erick Erickson called Limbaugh “a friend, a mentor, and now the man who gets to personally deliver back his talent to God.”
“There’s a public caricature of Rush Limbaugh that exists formed by those jealous of his success and contemptuous of his views. Then there is the Rush Limbaugh — a friend, a mentor, and now the man who gets to personally deliver back his talent to God” https://t.co/EYFMYZNYA7— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) February 17, 2021
President Trump awarded him the Medal of Freedom last year. He is a member of the Radio Hall of Fame.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/John M. Heller/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.