Friday on his nationally syndicated radio show, conservative radio icon Rush Limbaugh revealed behind-the-scenes details of President Donald Trump surprising him with an invitation to the State of the Union Tuesday, where he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
A partial transcript is as follows:
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.
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.”
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?
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.
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.