Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh “an iconic figure” Wednesday and expressed doubt that Republicans would have won control of the House of Representatives in 1994 without the late broadcaster.
“He created much of modern conservatism and was really the bridge from Reagan to where we are today,” Gingrich told “The Story” host Martha MacCallum after Limbaugh died at the age of 70 following a bout with lung cancer.
“Without Rush, I doubt if we would have won control of the House in 1994, because he clarified the issues,” Gingrich explained. “He gave our candidates arguments to run on. He created a huge number of people—his impact was more than the 20 million listeners a week, it was all of the people they would go talk to. My guess is that the ripple effect of Rush was 80-90 million people every single week because people would go out and say, ‘Did you hear what Rush said today?’”
GINGRICH: RUSH LIMBAUGH WAS A CONSERVATIVE HERO AND A GOOD FRIEND
Gingrich credited Limbaugh with highlighting the work of House Republicans during the early years of the Clinton Presidency.
“Rush was there every single day educating people,” Gingrich said, “‘Did you know [Clinton] did this, did you know [Clinton] did that?’ So he was building a momentum of unwillingness to accept left-wing ideas and he was also willing to talk about House Republicans” at time when they had not held the House in more than four decades.
“Without Rush, I doubt if we would have won control of the House in 1994…. He clarified the issues. He gave our candidates arguments to run on.”
In addition to his yeoman’s work for conservatism, Gingrich also praised Limbaugh for his humility.
“The thing to remember about Rush is, his heart never left Cape Girardeau, Missouri,” Gingrich reminisced. “He was absolutely a Middle American from a very traditional sense of being grateful that God had allowed him to find a career he could do well …”
“This was not a man who in any sense thought of himself as special,” he added. “He thought of himself as smart and hard-working and that he was doing something which was a mission. He had a mission to help save America and he was doing it in the medium he understood.”
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Former President Ronald Reagan, Gingrich claimed, laid the groundwork for modern conservatism and he and Limbaugh stood on the shoulders of the 40th president.
“Both Rush and I learned a great deal about how to explain conservatism from Reagan … Rush filled the vacuum that Reagan had left.”
Gingrich ended his tribute to Limbaugh with simple, yet moving, praise. “He was very much a normal American with a huge voice and a brilliant mind.”