Right-wing talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh broke with President Donald Trump on Wednesday on the subject of athletes protesting during the national anthem.
"There's a part of this story that's making me nervous," Limbaugh told listeners, according to The Hill, "and it’s this: I am very uncomfortable with the president of the United States being able to dictate the behavior and power of anybody. That’s not where this should be coming from."
Limbaugh conceded that he believes Trump's motives are "pure," but that the president's constant barrage of antagonistic tweets aren't adding to the conversation.
"Trump is continually tweeting -- I know what he’s doing, and I understand why he’s doing it, and his motives are pure; don’t misunderstand. But I don’t think that it is useful or helpful for any employee anywhere to be forced to do something because the government says they must," Limbaugh said. "We don’t want the president being able to demand anybody that he’s unhappy with behave in a way he requires."
Limbaugh is not the ratings behemoth that he used to be, but he still speaks to a sizable audience of right-wing conservatives each day, a group that is crucial to Trump's base. Thus far, he has been largely fulsome in his praise of Trump, so these sentiments could be a critical turning point.
Trump long managed to hold on to his base of supporters regardless of the turbulence of the daily news cycle, but in recent weeks he has been bleeding support in the rural areas that were critical to his Electoral College victory in November of 2016.
Trump's presidency has come under siege in recent weeks from multiple sides including Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) who lambasted the president over the weekend, calling the White House "an adult day care" and suggesting that Trump has placed the country on "the path to World War III."
Even trusted advisers like fired White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon are now acknowledging that the wheels are coming off the Trump presidency. Bannon gave Trump a 30 percent chance of completing his term and close White House advisers are concerned that Trump is "unraveling."