It is widely known that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was born in the fever swamps of conservative talk radio: In 2014, former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg listened “to thousands of hours of talk radio” as he formed the basis for the campaign’s message.
Previously Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate has been quoted describing himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf,” but it turns out the fully caffeinated version inspired his political career.
Just over a month after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Pence delivered a speech on the House floor which served no other purpose than to heap praise on the conservative talker. Later that evening, many of his Republican colleagues would do the same, but Pence was unable to join a series of Special Orders speeches organized by Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston because his daughter was sick.
Pence, though, did dedicate his time on the floor to noting that “it is a literal truth, Mr. Speaker, to say that I am in Congress today because of Rush Limbaugh, and not because of some tangential impact on my career or his effect on the national debate; but because in fact after my first run for Congress in 1988, it was the new national voice emerging in 1989 across the heartland of Indiana of one Rush Hudson Limbaugh, III, that captured my imagination.”
He went on to claim he was “inspired by” Limbaugh’s “dulcet tones to seek a career in radio and television.”
While Pence has been portrayed as a moderating force on the Trump campaign, the truth is he has been “inspired” by the same offensive rhetoric the GOP nominee uses today. Limbaugh, by the time Pence effusively praised him on the House floor, already had a long track record of racist, sexist and homophobic comments.
Limbaugh told an African-American caller in the 1970s to “take that bone out of your nose and call me back.” On his television show during the Clinton administration he stated, “Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is also a White House dog?” while holding up a picture of Chelsea Clinton. He has since the 1990s repeatedly referred to prominent women as “feminazis” and has recalled saying on-air in the 1980s that “feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.” Of Native Americans he once said, “There are more American Indians alive today than there were when Columbus arrived or at any other time in history. Does this sound like a record of genocide?”
These were just a few quotes from the days before progressive groups and the media monitored Limbaugh’s show and posted his most offensive statements. However, his offensive and divisive reputation was already known.
Pence, in his first year in Congress, decided to tie his career to Limbaugh’s and he hasn’t cut the cord since.