Rush Limbaugh speaks about being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union. Limbaugh also explained the logistics of traveling from Palm Beach, Fla. to Washington, D.C. on the same day he was invited.
Transcript, via RushLimbaugh.com
RUSH LIMBAUGH: So the last time I was here and we were together was Monday. And I have to tell you, it feels like it’s been two weeks with everything that has happened since then. But it hasn’t. It’s just been one week. And the last thing that I did on Monday was inform all of you of a medical diagnosis, advanced lung cancer. And I told you Monday that I really wished that I could not announce it, because I don’t like making things about me.
And I promised you that I was not going to live every aspect of this on the air. Millions of you have been through it. It’s nothing that millions of Americans aren’t experiencing or haven’t experienced. So you don’t need me sharing all of the details with you. And I wouldn’t want to do it anyway because there’s a lot of factors involved, including privacy and distraction.
And, by the way, folks, I’m gonna be hopscotching through much of this first hour as thoughts erupt in my fertile gray cells. I don’t have anything written here. I don’t have any monologue scripted. I haven’t made any notes to make sure that I don’t forget anything because I’m not worried about forgetting anything. I’m very confident that I’m gonna get everything said here today that I want to say.
Despite living in the public eye, I really am a private person for just a host of reasons, most of which that’s just who I am. I want whatever I’m known for to speak for itself during these three hours and some other things. I’m not interested in being in the news all the time, for whatever reason. Of course, I can’t help it, I am in the news all the time. But it’s not something I seek.
Nevertheless, it has been one of the biggest blessings — you know, I understand now what Lou Gehrig, when he was diagnosed with ALS in the 1930s, he’s announcing his retirement. This is after he has been the Iron Man, played in all these consecutive games, the record wasn’t broken until Cal Ripken Jr. came along.
He’s standing at home plate at Yankee Stadium, and he said, after having announced, the world knew, that he had ALS, everybody knew what it was, that it was fatal and there was no chance of recovery, and there still isn’t, by the way. And Lou Gehrig said, “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on earth.” I’ve seen that black and white film replayed numerous times in my life.
And don’t misunderstand, I know he meant it. But the first two or three times I heard it I had trouble processing. How in the world can anybody feel lucky after having been told that you have a disease from which there is no recovery and that it’s fast? And there was a part of me that said, “Okay. This is something that famous people are supposed to say. He’s been very successful in life. He was uniquely talented to play baseball and all that.” And I thought, “Okay. Clearly there is a portion of Lou Gehrig that thinks he has to say this.”
And now I know that’s all wrong. Now I know that there was nothing forced or phony or public-relations-related about it because I feel the same way. I cannot thank all of the people that I have heard from since Monday, and they are still getting a hold of me. There are people I had no idea they knew how to get a hold of me. And the sentiments, the thoughts they’re expressing are just incredibly nice and supportive.
And to have this kind of support and to know it, to be fully aware of it, yeah, it does make me one of the luckiest people alive. I’m trying to respond to everybody. I haven’t even made a dent in it. I haven’t had a whole lot of time to, but I’m going to try. Some people have written three or four times.
And other people are suggesting, “Hey, I know this treatment, I know this hospital, I know this treatment place. You need to call.” I thank you for all of that. I am just inundated with so much love and support, more than I ever knew. And it’s really true, when I sit here, think about how lucky I am that all of this has happened to me.
Now, I know many of you want to know the story of the State of the Union address on Tuesday night and how that all happened, and someday I hope to be able to tell you the entire story. I can’t tell you the entire story now without divulging medical details that I, frankly, don’t want to give. I don’t want to give people an opportunity to start investigating and writing about and pronouncing opinions and this kind of thing. People know enough about what I have.
It’s late stage. It’s advanced lung cancer. But there’s good news associated with the diagnosis and the treatment. So we are where I am to have the first procedure that will set up the beginning of treatment. This is Tuesday, and it is scheduled for 5 o’clock in the afternoon. We took no clothes, Kathryn and I. We just… We went Grub City with shorts, T-shirts. I mean, the whole week’s gonna be in the hospital.
There’s no reason to take a coat and tie. There’s no reason to pack a whole bunch of stuff that you’re never gonna use. “Light” was the byword. The procedure was gonna be 5 o’clock in the afternoon. I’d have to show up for it at 12 noon to do the prep, talk to the doctors and so forth. At 9 a.m., the phone rings. I’ve got the number in my address book. So it’s the White House. I answered the phone, and they said, “Can you hold for President Trump?”
I said, “Yes.”
“Rush! Rush! How you doing, buddy? Great to hear from you! Hey, look, what are you doing later today?”
I said, “Well, I have a serious medical procedure that’s gonna start — all this — at 5 o’clock.”
“Well, look, what’s the doctor’s name? I want to call him and have him delay it for a couple days ’cause I need you down here tonight.”
I said (chuckles), “Uh… (chuckles) Mr. President, um… I’m stunned.”
He said, “Look, your health comes first; there’s no question. But can’t they just do half of what they’re gonna do and then send you down here? Believe me, you don’t want to miss this. It’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be great. You don’t want to miss this.”
Well, I don’t know what’s up. He told me he wanted me to be his guest at the State of the Union, that he was gonna mention my name, recognize me. I hung up the phone and for the next hour and a half, I agonized — I literally agonized — over what to do. Kathryn and I are both sitting in the hotel room. As time is marching on, we’re faced with the possibility of having to ask an entire medical team to broom their schedule and reschedule to accommodate this.
But we haven’t told ’em yet. We’re discussing the logistics. Now, there’s something else. Earlier that day, I had sent EIB One to take my nieces from New York to Cape Girardeau, and it wasn’t gonna be available to me until 4:30 in the afternoon. So I’m putting that in the equation. I mean, there’s no way to even get there even if I want to, unless we charter. We could do that. But no clothes, no shirt, no tie, no socks, no dress shoes.
Zip, zero, nada.
Kathryn’s saying, “You’ve got to do this! You can’t not do this.”
I said, “How are we gonna do it?”
She said, “Leave it to me.”
An hour and a half later, I called the president back and tried to tell him no. Remember, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I have no idea. I just… He’s told me, by the way… I should say, he has told me that he’s gonna present me with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but a couple weeks from now in the Oval Office. I had no idea at this particular time on Tuesday morning that this was gonna happen at the State of the Union, and he didn’t tell me during all these phone calls.
So I called him back around 10:30, intending to be as persuasive as I could, to thank him and just say that there was too much here to overcome to get down there, including the medical schedule. The doctors and everything have been scheduled. This story, if I could tell it — and someday, I’m gonna be able to give you every detail here. But for people that do not know Donald Trump, this story will explain him, his essence, his attitude toward life.
There simply is nothing you can’t do. There’s nothing that can’t be done, and there’s not a single obstacle that can’t be dealt with — and it’s not even hard. It’s not even… He didn’t have to stop and think for a moment about this. Now, granted he’s got presidential power. If he wants to clear us into Reagan National, if he wants to send a car for us and get us from the airport to the White House, he can do all of that — and he did, and he was willing.
But the fact was that this is what he wanted, but not for him, you see? It was for me, and he wasn’t going to let me talk myself out of it. Part of me is not wanting to create any problems for him. I mean, he’s got so many more important things to do than deal with logistics, and I told him. He said, “You think I’m gonna do it? I’ve got people here! What do you mean? I’m gonna call a guy here; in an hour, all this will be done. All you gotta do is find a way to get the clothes.”
So Kathryn… (chuckling) This was amazing too. Kathryn got in gear and (again, without divulging too much), we went and met the doctor. We kept the appointment at noon to discuss what was gonna happen. We signed the papers, get as much of the procedure out of the way as we could, and then tell the doctor, “Hey, I have been summoned to Washington. Can this be moved to tomorrow?”
“Sure! It’s not a problem. In fact, show up at 5:30 tomorrow morning before anybody else gets here. We’ll get it started; we’ll get it rolling.” Everybody was just as cooperative and helpful as they could be. We get back from the meeting with the doctors in about two hours, and in our hotel room is 15 sport coats of different sizes, four or five different ties, a bunch of shirts of different sizes, and all I had to do was try on various things and find an outfit that fit. I did have…
I take it back. I did have a pair of slacks ’cause it was cold where we went; so I wasn’t wearing slacks and shorts, wasn’t able to. But I did wear slacks. The slacks come from the suit. We were even looking at sending the plane down to Florida to get my suit and a tie, but I couldn’t because it was on the way to Missouri. So, anyway, Kathryn had arranged for a bunch of stuff to be delivered from local retail outlets, including for her.
She had nothing, either, nothing that would be suitable for the House Chamber. (interruption) Pardon me? (interruption) Yeah, it was stuff off the rack. What are you gonna do? There was no time for a tailor. There’s no time for a seamstress. Yeah. That’s why there were 15 different sport coats, Mr. Snerdley. That’s why there are four or five different shirts with different neck sizes, sleeve lengths.
I told ’em what I wear, but you never know from manufacturer to manufacturer, brand to brand. Nothing’s consistent in clothes. There was only one of the whatever it was, 10 or 15 — only one that fit. There was only one that I could button. The sleeve length was perfect but only one that I could button. (interruption) What do you mean? You’re used to what “over here on the other side of the glass”? (interruption) Oh, you’re used to off the rack?
Look, I don’t have a tailor either! What, you think I have somebody who makes me suits? When’s the last time you saw me in a suit? It was in December and that’s an off-the-rack suit. I haven’t bought a suit in 10 years ’cause I don’t like clothes shopping precisely because nothing does fit off the rack. I got better things to do than sit there and be measured three or four times to get it right.
What was somewhat miraculous about this is that Kathryn got enough delivered that something worked. When I saw the ties, I said, “These are the dullest ties. I don’t wear invisible ties like these!” They said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but this is how they interpreted what you said you want.” It turned out to be perfect! The tie turned out to be the perfect color for what was to come later. Anyway, I gotta take a break.
There’s still a lot to this story, and there’s more than I can tell you today about Donald Trump and who he is and why he’s unbeatable, folks. He’s indomitable. These clowns, the Democrats, still have no idea what they’re up against. They haven’t the slight idea. There’s nobody — there is nobody in the Democrat Party, there’s nobody in American politics — that even comes close to the personality and the overall attitude towards life of Donald Trump. Incredible.
RUSH: Now, look in this story, we’re not even at the White House yet. I still have a ways to go in explaining what all happened here on Tuesday. But there’s not enough time in this segment. I kind of went overboard in the first one, so bear with me here. I just want to reiterate something. You look at what happened in Iowa, and I’ll give you a little… I told the president… There was a meeting.
I’m jumping ahead, but there was a meeting in the Yellow Oval Room. Teddy Roosevelt loved the Oval Office so much, he had an exact replica built in the residence. It’s yellow, and it’s the same dimensions as the Oval Office in the West Wing. The entire Trump family is there, and the subject of the Democrats’ meltdown in Iowa, in the Hawkeye Cauci, came up. I said, “Mr. President, don’t you find it a little ironic?
“These people are running around the last four years claiming you cheated with Russia, you’re gonna cheat in 2020, and look what happened. These people, Silicon Valley is running their operation, and they can’t even count votes. When are they gonna blame Russia for this? When are they gonna blame you for this?” He got a big laugh out of it. What a bunch of incompetent, arrogant…
More on this in a minute.
RUSH: Half my brain tied behind my back still, just to make it fair. The EIB Network and Rush Limbaugh wrapping up — oh, by the way, it’s Open Line Friday, so when we get to the phones about a quarter ’til three this afternoon, whatever you want to talk about will be fine — no. I hope to be able to get to phones much sooner than that.
This experience that Kathryn and I had — and look, folks, I’ve known Donald Trump for years. And I’ve been really fortunate the past year to play golf with him a number of times when he’s down here, down in Florida. And I’ve gotten to know him personally. I know Donald Trump — when I saw him come down the escalator. I’ve known Donald Trump from the moment he got into this, and I knew he was gonna win two weeks after he got into this, and I never had any doubts about it.
And I fully, totally understand the Democrats’ discombobulation with it. They have no idea what they’re up against, they still don’t. The deep state, all these people that have tried to run Donald Trump out of town, they have no idea, folks. They literally, I don’t think, know anybody like him. Which is a shame. They don’t know people like Donald Trump. They may even have disdain for people like Donald Trump.
If you look at Donald Trump’s life, he’s lived a full and complete life. And not everything has been what we would characterize as exemplary, but that’s the point — he’s lived. He has gotten everything life has to offer, and he’s not finished. And he attacks it each and every day. And he has no — what’s the word? — he’s got no self-doubt.
He doesn’t let what other people might think of what he wants to do to stop him from doing it or from saying what he wants to say. He’s just a unique personality. And the fact that the political establishment, some in both parties, don’t understand it is not hard to understand because there is a way of doing things, the standard operating procedure in electoral politics. And you can see the contrast.
Watch any Democrat during the Hawkeye Cauci, the lead-up and then that night when the vote mess happened, and listen to any of them talk. Every speech, even the hand gestures are rehearsed, focus grouped, the words that they say are focus grouped, practiced. None of it is real. And all of it is pandering. Every bit of it is pandering.
Mitt Romney epitomizes the pandering. Romney is pandering to other losers. For some reason Romney thinks this is his route to victory. He hasn’t the slightest idea what his future is. But it doesn’t include victory, not even close. And he’s gonna find out sooner than later.
But in this day, this past Tuesday, there was simply no way it wasn’t going to happen. And he never made a demand. I want to try to be clear about this so that as many of you as possible understand the personality. There was no demanding. There was nothing offensive. There was nothing belittling. It’s a unique person that is able to persuade people to do what they want and make them happy they’re doing it even when they don’t think they can.
In Donald Trump’s world, there simply is no “can’t.” Especially when it comes to trying. So we tell him late in the afternoon on Tuesday that we’re going to accept the invitation. He’s thrilled. He was ecstatically happy. But as I was to learn later, not for himself. He was – (sniffling) pardon the sniffles here, folks. I told you I’ve got a little bit of bronchial congestion, a chest cold is coming on.
At any rate, he’s on the phone and saying, “Look. Of course, of course your health comes first. There’s no question. You gotta put your health first. Can’t the doctor take some of it out now and then go get the rest of it tomorrow? What’s his name?” But there was never a demand. There just wasn’t any way we were gonna be able to decline it. That just wasn’t gonna happen. We figured that out and then all the logistics fell into place.
And we arrived in Washington and were picked up and taken to the White House. We were met by Hogan Gidley in the communications shop, and went to the library in the White House, which is off the diplomatic entrance area, the elevator to the residence, where the first lady was posing for photos with all of the people who were being recognized in the gallery that night.
And we were last in line on purpose because after we posed for the photo with the first lady, we were then escorted to the residence to meet the Trump family in the Yellow Oval. Again, that is a room in the residence. It’s not far down the hall — if you keep walking past it you run into the Lincoln Bedroom and the Queen’s Bedroom. And it’s the exact dimensions of the Oval Office in the West Wing. Teddy Roosevelt loved that room. He had it made for the residence, the exact measurements with the predominant color being yellow.
So we were escorted into the room by Mrs. Trump, and we chat with her for two or three minutes, and then the Trump family began to come in, Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric, their wives, spouses, and then the president came in and sat down and started talking about the award and the medal and what it means and how special it is and how thrilled he was that we were able to make it.
And, folks, I don’t know if I should — I’m gonna go ahead and tell you this. I realize that it’s gonna open the floodgates of a bunch of people in the media, but at this stage I don’t care. I never have cared, and I’m not gonna start caring now what they say. One of the reasons I was reluctant was I just wasn’t sure I deserved this. I mean, it’s the highest civilian honor that the country awards.
It’s the exact same award that Congress gives, the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, it’s the exact same thing. There are different requirements. Military people who qualify are awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor with sometimes a ceremony at the White House. But this is the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And there was a part of me, I’m a radio talk show host, and I sit here behind this microphone and I talk. And this is, by the way, nothing new.
I remember when I was at the National Review 50th anniversary dinner in Washington — some of you will remember this story — I’m sitting at Mr. Buckley’s table, and a man walks up to me who has been severely wounded in battle. And he asks if I could come over to his table to meet others at his table who also have been wounded. So I did.
I got over there, and I was listening to these guys who have nearly died defending the country, telling me how much they enjoy listening to my program and all that. I said to these guys, “You know… (sigh) I don’t know, guys. You’ve faced bullets, almost died. I sit behind a microphone in an enclosed room and talk.” The leader of the Wounded Warriors said, “Sir, we all have our role,” and I’ve never forgotten that.
And I remember when I started questioning, “Gee, is this something I really have earned or deserved?” I remembered that statement from that really severely wounded warrior. “We all have our roles.” And then I said, “I can’t react to this in a way that diminishes their appreciation. I can’t sit here and say, ‘Oh, come on, guys. You know, I’m not worth this.’ I can’t do that. It means everything in the world to them that they came over and wanted to tell me this. So you can’t phony up the humility and act that way.'”
I gutted it up, and I told them how much I appreciated it, how stunned I was, how much it meant to me to know that they were out there, and it was a great evening. So it’s the same thing here. I decided, “Okay, drop this business. The president wants to give it to you. That’s all that matters. You’ve gotta do it.” But I’m jumping back in time because that was one of the items when we were deciding whether to do this or not, and I didn’t tell Kathryn.
Kathryn’s hearing this for the first time, I think. I may have said, “Do you think I really deserve this?” I don’t know, but I don’t think I did. So we get there, the president’s talking, and we have the joke about the Democrats in Iowa. He’s sitting on an ottoman, a footstool. We’re on sofas facing each other. He’s on an ottoman by himself. No ties. He’s got his jacket on and a crisp, white shirt unbuttoned.
I said, “You know, I couldn’t do this. Whenever I used to do anything like this like a big speech or Rush to Excellence Tour, I had to be alone with no distractions. I couldn’t have a bunch of people around me.” I said, “Now, one of the reasons is none of it was scripted, and I ad-libbed everything. So I needed to make sure my brain was working and not distracted.” He said, “Nah, we love this. We love it. This is historic. We’ve got such a great story to tell.”
You know, Donald Trump is not ashamed of his accomplishments and achievements, ’cause they’re real. He does have his own version of humility. You have to know how to spot it. It happens at every rally. Donald Trump will tell everybody in the world how much he appreciates their support, one way or the other. It could be 30 seconds, could take him two minutes.
But everybody at a Trump rally knows that he appreciates them and doesn’t take any of their support, their presence for granted. So then, after this and the joking about the Democrats and my suggesting that maybe the Russians were behind this disaster in Iowa, it was time to leave — and this was something I never knew. I never knew how all of this happened. All those guests sitting up there with the first lady in the gallery, I never knew how it all happened. But now I do, and I will tell you when we get back.
RUSH: Okay. So the way they get everybody over — and I’m truncating this. They’ve got a couple of buses, minivans. They’re very nice. Don’t misunderstand “minivan.” They put all the guests in, and the guests are the tail end of the caravan. It is a massive caravan, more SUVs than I’ve ever seen in a row, and we left the White House about 8:15 to get over there, and they hustle you into the gallery, and you sit down.
I’ve never been in the gallery. Oh, I have in the Senate, never in the House. I have seen the House Chamber from floor level. You’re not allowed to go out there if you’re not a member, and it was pretty full by the time we got there at 8:30, and all the Republicans are just… They’re looking up and they’re waving, thumbs up. It was so inspiring and gratifying and there was just a…
If you can imagine an envelope or like a wave of warmth that just swept over me sitting there. Every Republican congressman, every senator, every… I’m looking down there. And then to see the Democrats not doing a thing and they’re dressed in all white and so forth. It was just a moving, moving night, and I’m sitting there. I can’t believe we’re there, can’t believe it happened, can’t believe it all came together — and then, it happened.
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