Newt Gingrich on Hannity | February 17, 2021

Newt talks about conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh and his life and legacy with Sean Hannity.


Newt Gingrich
February 17, 2021


I think there are a lot of things to be said about Rush more than we have time for before the president comes on. Let me just say that Ronald Reagan after he left the White House, sent a note to Rush saying I’m happy to acknowledge that you are now the leading articulator of conservatism, and I think it was true. He became national in 1988, by 1993, he played an integral role with what we were trying to do in developing the contract with America. I don’t think we would have won control of the house that year without Rush’s support. I will also say I don’t think Donald Trump would have won the Republican nomination without Rush’s support. Rush had built much like you, sort of the next generation, but Rush is a pioneer. He built an army of 20 or 25 million people who were more than that because they would listen to him, and then they would go talk to their friends over coffee or at the office or after Sunday school, so probably Rush was impacting 50-70 million people every single week. And he was a clear articulator. When Reagan left, nobody in the Republican party understood what Reagan had achieved and they didn’t understand how to talk about it they didn’t understand conservatism, and Rush filled the vacuum. And enabled a generation to learn how to think about these things and to learn how to stand up to the left. And to learn how to use language that was effective. And I think that historians will look back and realize that he as one of the great cultural figures in American political history, and that his total impact is almost beyond measure. But beyond that, because you and I both known and loved him, and knowing him as a person, not just an icon or a national figure, I found Rush to be very personal. I always said he left cape Girardeau, but he never left cape Girardeau in his heart, this is the Rush that was still here just a few days ago was somebody who’s whose heart, whose patriotism, whose core values, came out of cape Girardeau and he knew it. He was never affected when he lived in New York, he never became a New Yorker, he always thought people up there were weird. That’s part of why he went ultimately to palm beach. But you’re out on Long Island, let’s be honest here, people on the island are often weird.

But there was something about him that was so down-to-earth, so practical. Now he had a lot of bombast for practical reasons, it worked. He was in a sense a great vaudevillian. He knew how to keep you entertained, he knew how to keep you tuned in, he knew how to make sure you wanted to listen to what he’s going to do next. But that was also the professional Rush, the personal Rush, and I had the remarkable experience of being with Callista at lunch one day. It turned out they had both been high school radio disk jockeys for their respective small-town radio stations. Rush dropped completely the national figure. He went right back to what it was like in high school. They were swapping ideas, and I just thought this guy is so natural. I think it’s one of the things that’s very hard for the media to capture, but he in fact loved people, and in a very real sense , and I think that he loved America. He was also much like Reagan permanently optimistic because he was convinced in the end that freedom defeats slavery and therefore a free people will defeat the socialist and all the other people that wanted to control our lives. He’s in the enormous loss, but at the same time, he has been an enormous gift to all of us.


In all fairness, I think what Rush would say is he doesn’t want Sean Hannity to try to become the next Rush Limbaugh, he wants Sean Hannity to be the best possible Sean Hannity. I think he understood that authenticity is at the heart of freedom. You have to be an authentic person if you’re going to truly be free. So, he would have cherished every single, no matter how strange you were, no matter how different your views were, he cherished each individual is somebody he could interact with and have a great time with and argue with, and sometimes educate.


Let me tell you. I’ve been saying this to Callista this afternoon. Until you have tried to fill three hours, and to fill it well enough that the audience stays with you, you have no idea, and you’re the same way I’d regard you and Rush as the two great leaders in both radio and of course in your case also television, but this ability. And Rush always felt it deeply. I remember one time talking to him, he’s really mad because somebody said to him, I could talk, and Rush is going I spent my whole lifetime learning to do this, I know how hard it is. This guy hasn’t got a clue, and by the way, the guy didn’t do very well because he didn’t have a clue. Talk radio at the level of Rush is a lot like football that we just saw with Tampa Bay. I mean Brady and Rush are very similar, I would say Tiger Woods and Rush are very similar. He is the peak of the game, he is a model that people should study but never pretend that they could be that good.

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