Former Vice President Mike Pence called Rush Limbaugh a “giant” who inspired Pence to enter talk radio in the 1990s, a move that helped lead to a successful political career.
Pence joined “America Reports” to reflect on Limbaugh’s life and career after the conservative broadcasting icon died Wednesday from lung cancer at the age of 70.
“I scarcely believe that I would’ve had the opportunities to serve in the Congress, serve the people of Indiana as governor, or serve as your vice president without the life, the example, the encouragement, and ultimately, the friendship of Rush Limbaugh,” Pence said. “Our hearts are heavy today.”
Pence was a radio host in Indiana in the 1990s before being elected to the House of Representatives in 2000. He served 12 years in Congress before being elected governor of the Hoosier State in 2012. He then joined Donald Trump on the 2016 Republican ticket and was elected vice president.
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Pence said he was inspired by Limbaugh to go into talk radio after losing congressional elections in 1988 and 1990. Pence, who once jokingly described his broadcasting style as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf,” eventually gained an audience among Indiana conservatives as his program was syndicated across the state.
“America lost a giant with the passing of Rush Limbaugh,” Pence said.
Limbaugh’s popular radio show was key to helping Republicans take back the House in 1994 for the first time in 42 years. The former vice president described the host as an “anchor” for conservatives.
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“He inspired not only tens of millions of young conservatives across this country, myself included, but make no mistake about it … He essentially invented conservative talk radio,” Pence said. “I know that there are an awful lot of talk show hosts around the country on the airwaves today who … would not be on the airwaves without the life, the example, the courage, and the talent of Rush Limbaugh. He was a good man.”
Pence also reflected on Trump’s decision to grant Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the 2020 State of the Union address, shortly after Limbaugh disclosed his lung cancer diagnosis.
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“[Trump] wanted to make sure that given the difficult times through which their family was beginning to pass, that they knew the gratitude of millions of Americans, from the president to the vice president,” he said.