Even though Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee (now that all of his challengers have suspended their campaigns), he is still lacking one endorsement that would likely garner him support from erstwhile conservative voters: Rush Limbaugh.
In a conversation captured by the Hill, Limbaugh was contacted by a Trump supporter who wanted to know why he did not endorse the former reality TV star. In asking, the caller referred to Limbaugh as the “all-knowing, all-seeing Rushbo, the omniscient one,” a variation of how the talk show host often refers to himself on the air.
“In the word of a famous and well-known politician,” Limbaugh responded, “What difference does it make now?”
This was an allusion to a controversial comment by former secretary of state and current Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton at a Congressional hearing over the Benghazi, Libya terrorist attack on September 11, 2012.
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“He needs your endorsement,” the caller replied. “It’s that important. And it’s about time you did it.”
Limbaugh responded the primaries are not over until June 7, and that Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who suspended his campaign nearly a month ago, garnered 40 of the 41 delegates at the Washington state GOP convention last weekend.
Rush Limbaugh said Donald Trump was “doing the job the American media and the Republican Party won’t do” https://t.co/sYxKSDhF8f— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) May 25, 2016
“There’s still anything that can happen out there,” he said. “I don’t live under any delusions here that people are going to make up their minds… just because I happen to tell people who I’m for.”
Rush Limbaugh’s Support of Donald Trump
This conversation is just the latest chapter in Rush Limbaugh’s relationship with Donald Trump. In March, former Bush speechwriter and current Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson declared that “one of the main reasons that many conservatives are finding Trump acceptable is that the most influential political talk radio host in history, Rush Limbaugh, has provided his blessing.”
Gerson said in his column that in 2015, Limbaugh defended Trump from many attacks, including when he said Senator John McCain was “not a war hero,” and he routinely dismissed critics of Trump as members of the “establishment.”
Gerson also noted that Trump has taken positions at odds with conservatism, including opposition to entitlement reform, favors a single-payer healthcare system, and opposes much of Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy, which has essentially been the Republican standard since he left office in 1989.
“This is the politician Limbaugh has given the ideological hall pass of a lifetime,” Gerson declared.
However, Gerson also noted Limbaugh’s comment that conservatives should support Cruz “if conservatism is the dominating factor in how you vote.”
In January, the Atlantic posited that Limbaugh supported Trump because “Limbaugh has abandoned conservatism as his lodestar.”
On April 1, Mediaite reported that, in the aftermath of Donald Trump telling MSNBC host Chris Matthews that women should be punished for getting abortions, Limbaugh refused to condemn the GOP frontrunner, as many in both the pro-life and pro-choice movements had.
When a caller confronted him on this, Limbaugh responded, “My effort’s not to defend Trump, it is to try to limit the damage.”
He went on to say that he’s not concerned about what happens on the Republican side “because what matters most is beating the Democrats,” according to Mediaite.
Yesterday, Limbaugh noted on his show that while “I have nothing to do with the Trump campaign,” he defended Trump’s controversial new ad about Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual dalliances, saying that Trump is doing this because “The media wouldn’t report on it.”
So, while Limbaugh will not officially endorse Donald Trump, his statements, as well as the many media analyses, seem to agree with his answer to the caller: “What difference does it make now?”
[Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images]