Radio host Rush Limbaugh attacked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday for invoking his son Beau’s death from brain cancer and linking it to his service in Iraq, with Limbaugh insisting there was no connection between the two and arguing that Biden was trying to “get people to feel bad for him for the loss of his son.”
In fact, Biden has previously linked his son’s death from cancer to his military service, and with at least some reasonable suspicion.
Responding to a question about health care during a CNN town hall event on Thursday night, an emotionally charged Biden declared: “I don’t want to get too personal. My son died of cancer. He came home from Iraq — and I have to tell you, it really, really offended me — when he volunteered to go there for a year, and he came home because of stage 4 glioblastoma. And the president referred to guys like my son — he won the Bronze Star and the Conspicuous Service Medal — referred to them as ‘losers.’ Losers. Talk about losers.”
Beau Biden returned from a year-long deployment to Iraq with the Delaware National Guard in 2009. The next six years of his life were beset by a variety of health issues, including a stroke in 2010 and his diagnosis with cancer in 2013, until his passing in 2015.
In a 2018 interview on PBS NewsHour, Biden revealed that he had only learned years after Beau’s death, reading the 2016 book The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers, that Beau was exposed to burning waste sites during his military service in both Kosovo and Iraq.
Often, waste was burned in open-air pits, with jet fuel sometimes used as an accelerant. At many bases, virtually all waste was burned, ranging from paints, solvents, tires, plastics and Styrofoam to batteries and electronic equipment. Depending on the burn locations and prevailing winds, smoke frequently permeated these outposts and adjacent areas.
“There’s a whole chapter on my son Beau in there, and that stunned me. I didn’t know that,” Biden said. He added, the author “went back and looked at Beau’s tenure as a civilian with the U.S. attorney’s office [in Kosovo] and then his year in Iraq. And he was co-located in both times near these burn pits.”
And though the scientific community still does not have a firm conclusion as to whether or not these sites contributed to health issues in veterans, Biden has previously discussed during the presidential campaign his support for veterans suffering from a variety of health issues.
Limbaugh’s take on Friday, however, implied that Biden linking his son’s death to his military service was a ploy to “get people to feel bad for him” and evidence of mental decline.
“Then he goes off on how Trump hates veterans, which has been utterly debunked,” Limbaugh said. “He did it by trying to connect his son’s death to being a vet. This is to show his empathy to vets. Get people to feel bad for him for the loss of his son. Emotional connection. But nobody actually points out the facts. His son deployed in 2008. His cancer diagnosis was 2013. His death and his service are unrelated, but [Biden] may not even know that by now.”
Later in Limbaugh’s broadcast, he spoke with a caller who said that Biden discussing his son’s death was “playing on people’s emotions” and called it “one of the most vile, disgusting things I’ve ever seen.”
Limbaugh told the caller that Biden “tried to say that his son died in part serving in the military, but he didn’t. He died of cancer six years after he had served in the military. He tried to link the two.”
Limbaugh then mocked Biden’s discussion of the 1972 deaths of his first wife and infant daughter in a car accident, saying, “They’re trying to use empathy and caring” and “it’s supposed to work on suburban, college-educated women.”