Conservative talk show radio pioneer Rush Limbaugh, whose work influenced a generation of American politics, has died at the age of 70, succumbing to advanced lung cancer.
Born with a booming voice and given a name made for showbiz, Rush Hudson Limbaugh III made his mark on America.
He made his conservative case on the radio daily, boasting a broad vocabulary and command of the English language which he often used like a surgeon uses a scalpel.
"They're tearing down the wall at the U.S. border and building a wall around the United States Capitol. Have you heard that?" he asked during one of his recent programs.
"The Rush Limbaugh Show" launched in 1988 - a three-hour daily conservative talk show that quickly attracted listeners across the country. His show eventually grew into the largest audience in radio – influence that made Limbaugh an enemy of the left and kingmaker on the right.
"You just suddenly have become a national phenomenon, very popular show. How come?" CBN Founder Dr. Pat Robertson asked Limbaugh during a 1990 interview.
"I think one of the real reasons for the success of the show is the perception and as you know in politics perception is oftentimes reality, the perception by real people that the primary disseminators of information in this country are shall we say slanted to the left and here comes the first, and it's really the only national program, in radio or TV that has a conservative bias to it, admittedly so, that they can latch on to and I never thought that would be the reason. I thought that for my success I was going to have to be a better broadcaster, sharper, and faster, quicker, more informed and all that. I didn't bank on the fact that so much of the success would rely on the fact that I happen to be very fortunate in my timing in - I think this country's far more conservative than even people think it is now," Limbaugh responded.
Rush had a knack for articulating conservatism that added depth to what his listeners were already thinking.
In 1992, President Ronald Reagan wrote him, "Now that I've retired from active politics. I don't mind that you have become the Number One voice for conservatism in our Country. I know the liberals call you the most dangerous man in America, but don't worry about it, they used to say the same thing about me. Keep up the good work. America needs to hear 'the way things ought to be.'"
Limbaugh's listeners remained loyal through a number of controversies that saw him lose sponsors only to gain new ones.
In 2001, Limbaugh announced he had lost his hearing from the rare condition called autoimmune inner ear disease. He received cochlear ear implants and continued his work as a broadcaster.
Known for his generosity, he donated millions to causes he found worthy.
He never had children and was married four times, leaving behind Kathryn Adams, his wife of 10 years.
In early 2020, Limbaugh announced he had advanced lung cancer, and the very next night at the State of the Union address, President Trump bestowed upon him the honor of a lifetime.
"I am proud to announce today that you will be receiving our country's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom," the president announced.
When the camera switched to Limbaugh in the crowd inside the Capitol, it showed the broadcaster at a loss for words.
To the end Limbaugh publicly credited his faith in Jesus with getting him through his very difficult battle with cancer.
"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 during one of his final programs.
For his millions of listeners, Rush Limbaugh was a national treasure who can never be replaced.
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