Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh drew bipartisan criticism Thursday for saying the country won't elect Pete Buttigieg president because he's been “kissing his husband" after debates, the AP reports. Limbaugh's comments came eight days after President Trump awarded him the nation's top civilian honor during the State of the Union address. Limbaugh, a staunch Trump ally who recently announced he has advanced lung cancer, made the remarks on his nationally syndicated radio show. Buttigieg has finished in the top two in Democrats' first two presidential contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. "They're saying, 'OK, how's this going to look?'" Limbaugh said Wednesday, imagining Democrats' thinking. “Thirty-seven-year-old gay guy kissing his husband onstage, next to Mr. Man, Donald Trump.'"
Limbaugh said he envisioned Democrats concluding that "despite all the great wokeness and despite all the great ground that's been covered, that America's still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage president." The 69-year-old Limbaugh also said some Democrats may believe they should "get a gay guy kissing his husband on stage, ram it down Trump's throat and beat him in the general election. Really? Having fun envisioning that." Among those chastising Limbaugh:
- Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is challenging Buttigieg for the Democratic presidential nomination, assailed Limbaugh on ABC's The View. "I mean, my God," said Biden, who called it "part of the depravity of this administration." He added, "Pete and I are competitors, but this guy has honor, he has courage, he is smart as hell."
- "It's a miscalculation as to where the country is at," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a strong Trump supporter, told the AP about Limbaugh's words. "I think the country is not going to disqualify somebody because of their sexual orientation." Asked if Limbaugh should retain the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Graham said: "Well, my God. Free speech still exists."
- Republican Sen. Rob Portman said of Limbaugh, "He may disagree, as I do, with their policy positions, but the question is what their qualifications are, not other issues." Portman announced his support for gay marriage in 2013 as he revealed that his son Will is gay.
- Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, a moderate who is retiring in January, initially said he wasn't familiar with Limbaugh's remarks and declined to comment. His spokesman later emailed an Alexander statement that said: "There may be reasons not to vote for Mayor Buttigieg, but that's not one of them. This is a tolerant country."
A Buttigieg campaign spokesman declined to comment.
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