Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday addressed the controversy over his homophobic attacks on Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, revealing that President Donald Trump called him and advised him to “never apologize” for the remarks.
Last week, Limbaugh—who earlier this month was awarded the Medal of Freedom by Trump—sparked intense backlash when he claimed “Mr. Man Donald Trump” would “have fun” with the former South Bend mayor’s sexuality in a general election.
“A gay guy, 37 years old, loves kissing his husband on debate stages,” Limbaugh exclaimed. “Can you see Trump have fun with that?”
On the Tuesday edition of his radio show, the right-wing talker insisted that he was entirely unaware of the firestorm his remarks had created—until the president checked in to see how his treatment for lung cancer was going.
“Hell, the president even called me about this,” he said in a segment first flagged by Media Matters. “The president checks in every now and then to see how I’m doing. He's such a nice guy. And he called.”
Boasting that he has the White House private number in his phone because he’s a “powerful, influential member of the media,” he said it was “uncanny” that Trump rang him up when he was about to undergo a medical procedure.
“I told the White House, ‘Look, I've got a medical procedure in 10 minutes. Can you have the president call me back in 35 [minutes]?’” Limbaugh added. “And they did.”
The conservative radio host then recalled how Trump called later and told him to not back down on Buttigieg.
“So, he called back, and he said ‘Rush, I just got to tell you something. Never apologize, don't ever—’ and I said, ‘For what?’” Limbaugh noted. “Well, I had no idea this thing had even bubbled up, you know? I’m doing the medical thing that I have to do here. And I wasn't even aware of this.”
After Limbaugh—who has a lengthy history of anti-LGBTQ commentary—made his remarks, Buttigieg responded by saying he loves his husband very much and he won’t “take lectures on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.”