Rush Limbaugh isn’t saying he wants the country to split into red and blue factions as a result of conservative fury over the election results. As he attempted to make clear Thursday, he’s just saying that other people are saying it.
“I know that there’s a sizable and growing sentiment for people who believe that’s we’re headed to, whether we want to get there or not, secession,” he said on his nationwide radio program. “Now, I didn’t advocate for it. I never would advocate for secession. I’m simply repeating what I have heard.”
Limbaugh’s clarification came after his earlier comments on the topic went viral on social media.
He didn’t say where he’s heard anyone float the notion of states seceding, let alone spell out how such a neo-Civil War separation might take place.
But Limbaugh’s ambiguous flirtation with the idea may be his special contribution to conservative media’s rock-solid support of Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.
“I actually think that we’re trending toward secession,” he said on Wednesday’s show. “I see more and more people asking what in the world do we have in common with the people who live in, say, New York? What is there that makes us believe that there is enough of us there to even have a chance at winning New York? Especially if you’re talking about votes.”
Limbaugh’s drift into radical theories like secession came after weeks of egging on Trump’s claim that the 2020 vote was riven by fraud, cheating him out of a second term. So far, it’s been a losing argument: Trump and his allies have lost dozens of legal challenges in court, and states have certified their results. On Monday, the electoral college’s electors will meet to affirm Biden’s victory.
Limbaugh has also hailed the Texas attorney general’s lawsuit challenging voting rules in four key states that enabled Biden’s victory — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia — in a last-ditch attempt to hand the election to Trump. “This is the one team Trump has been aiming at all along,” Limbaugh said on the air on Wednesday. Legal experts say it’s unlikely the Supreme Court will consider it.
On Wednesday, Limbaugh noted that he had read recent blog posts about “how distant and separated and how much more separated our culture is becoming politically and that it can’t go on this way.”
But then he took his hand away from the flame: “I myself haven’t made up my mind. I still haven’t given up the idea that [conservative Americans] are the majority and that all we have to do is find a way to unite and win.”
After his remarks drew pushback on social media, Limbaugh backed off further on Thursday, saying that he had “never” advocated secession and that people “on the left” had purposely mischaracterized his comments.
Limbaugh is a longtime Trump loyalist; in the final weeks of the fall campaign, he hosted Trump for a two-hour “radio rally” in which the host lavished praise on his guest. Trump, for his part, awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February, taking the unprecedented step of interrupting his State of the Union speech so that first lady Melania Trump could drape the medal around his neck.
But Limbaugh seems to realize Trump’s chances of overturning the election are slim. On Wednesday, he imagined what an out-of-office Trump would do.
“He’s going to talk about seeking the presidency again in 2024 if these efforts to overturn this election don’t work,” he said. “But I think specifically what’s he gonna do, would he do a cable TV show, would he try to buy and run a cable network, would he want to do an hour or two on the radio now and then? He’s got any number of options, but I think you should stay confident that he’s not going to disappear. He doesn’t know how to do that.”