Late conservative talk show giant Rush Limbaugh was a "great gentleman, a great man," former President Donald Trump said Wednesday, shortly after the announcement that Limbaugh had died from his year-long battle with lung cancer.
"He was very brave," Trump told Fox News. "He could have been gone 4 months ago, really. He was fighting until the very end. He was a fighter. He was just a great gentleman."
Limbaugh, who had often been hailed by Republicans but slammed by Democrats, had an audience that was "massive," said Trump.
"He would just talk," said Trump of the star's top-rated show. "He wouldn't just take phone calls; he would just talk for 2 hours, for 3 hours, he would just talk, and that's not an easy thing to do."
Trump added that he once asked Limbaugh if he studied for his shows, and he said "'actually, I study very hard,' which a little bit surprised me. But he was a fantastic talent. People, whether they loved him or not, they respected him, they really did."
But even though Trump became close with Limbaugh during his presidency, he said that before he announced his candidacy, he had never met the radio icon.
"He became a friend of mine," Trump recalled. "I didn't know Rush at all. I had never met Rush, and then when we came down the escalator he liked my rather controversial speech. I made that speech, it was a little bit on the controversial side and he loved it."
And after that, Limbaugh "was with me right from the beginning. He liked what I said, he agreed with what I said. He was just a great gentleman, a great man."
Last year, Trump, during what turned out to be his final State of the Union address, presented Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
"Rush was very sick at the time, was in the hospital in Boston," Trump said. "I wish I could have done the surprise thing. It was a very difficult thing for him to do, to come into Washington. He was just a very brave guy."
Trump said Limbaugh told him that the medal was the "greatest honor of his life."
He also recalled that Republicans, in half the room, "went crazy," but the other half, the Democrats, were "totally dead silent."
However, he added, "100% of that room respected Rush. He was a unique guy."
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