Conservative talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh died on Wednesday at the age of 70 after a roughly year-long battle with lung cancer.
A number of prominent fans and colleagues weighed in afterward to share their thoughts — including former First Lady Melania Trump, who marked his passing with a brief social media statement.
“A fearless American patriot”
In a tweet just hours after news of Limbaugh’s death broke, Mrs. Trump wrote: “Rush was a fearless American patriot. He made countless contributions to society [and] leaves behind an unforgettable legacy.”
She went on to offer prayers for the host’s wife, Kathryn, as well as “the entire Limbaugh family.”
Of course, one shining moment in the right-wing pundit’s “unforgettable legacy” was his acceptance of the Presidential Medal of Freedom last February during then-President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
That ceremony came just weeks after Limbaugh announced his cancer diagnosis. He was not only honored during the address, but sat right next to the first lady in the congressional gallery. In fact, it was Melania Trump who draped the honorific medallion around the recipient’s neck.
“The Republicans went wild”
For more than 30 years, Limbaugh pleased his fans and outraged his foes by expressing unabashedly conservative — and often controversial — views from behind the microphone.
The ex-president joined his wife in offering fond memories of Limbaugh’s storied career. During an interview on Wednesday evening’s installment of Hannity on the Fox News Channel, Donald Trump expounded on his decision to present Limbaugh with the nation’s highest civilian honor.
“It was an idea that we had that a lot of people suggested to me, frankly, a lot of great people of our country, largely Republican,” he recalled, telling host Sean Hannity that it turned out to be “an amazing night because the Republicans went wild and the Democrats sat there.”
Despite the clear ideological differences on display, former President Trump added: “They all respected Rush.”
Some of Limbaugh’s most ardent detractors, on the other hand, did not wait to rehash some of his most incendiary on-air rhetoric. Editor Heather Antos, for example, tweeted: “He may have ‘changed radio’ and ‘changed talk shows’ but he used his platform to spread hate and vitriol against innocent people. Just because he died doesn’t mean we forget.”