(CNN) – A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner on Friday said the top Republican condemns a controversial comment made by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh but also disagrees with those who launched fundraising efforts over the remark.
"The speaker obviously believes the use of those words was inappropriate, as is trying to raise money off the situation," Michael Steel, Boehner's spokesman, told CNN.
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His response comes after House Democrats called on Boehner to repudiate Limbaugh's remark, in which the talk show host called a young woman who appeared before a congressional panel a 'slut' and a 'prostitute.'
The woman, Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, testified in the House last week, advocating for women to have access to contraceptives.
On Wednesday, the radio host disparaged Fluke, saying the law student wants '"taxpayers to pay her to have sex."
"What does it say about the college co-ed [Sandra] Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex?" Limbaugh asked. "What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex."
House Democrats, led by New York Rep. Louise Slaughter, had rallied Thursday in response to Limbaugh's remarks and sent a letter to Boehner urging him to condemn the comments. As of Friday afternoon, the letter had 80 signatures.
Democrats, however, pointed out that the House's Republican campaign arm also fundraised–not off Limbaugh, but off the issue of "religious liberty" surrounding the recent contraception controversy.
On her part, Fluke said in an interview with CNN that she felt "upset and outraged" when she first read online that Limbaugh had personally attacked her.
"I felt probably the way many women do when they are called those types of names," Fluke said. "Initially hurt and then very quickly upset and outraged because somebody is trying to silence you."
On Friday, President Barack Obama called Fluke to offer his support to the law student, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
"The president was expressing his support for her and his disappointment in the kind of attacks that have been leveled at her and to her and his appreciation for her willingness to stand tall and express her opinion," Carney said at the White House press briefing.
Also coming to her defense, Georgetown's president John J. DeGioia described Limbaugh's behavior as "misogynistic, vitriolic and a misrepresentation" of Fluke's position at the Congressional hearing.
"She was respectful, sincere, and spoke with conviction," DeGioia said in a statement. "This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people. One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression."
Georgetown is a Jesuit university that does not cover contraceptives in its health insurance plans.
Republican presidential candidate and devout Catholic Rick Santorum criticized Limbaugh on Friday, calling the talk show host's comments "absurd."
"He's being absurd, but that's you know, an entertainer can be absurd," Santorum told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Friday. "He's in a very different business than I am."
On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney initially walked by without comment when asked about the controversy by CNN at a campaign event in Washington state. He briefly addressed the issue with reporters at an event later on Friday, saying the words were “not the language I would have used.”
Another high profile Republican, Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, also faulted Limbaugh over his use of words.
"Rush Limbaugh's comments are reprehensible," Brown, who's up for re-election this year, tweeted on Friday. "He should apologize."
Some Republican groups, meanwhile, have also responded to Limbaugh's comments.
Rae Chornenky, president of the National Federation of Republican Women, told CNN the controversy has become "a sideshow, turning attention from the main issue."
Asked if she would repudiate the talk show host's remarks, Chornenky said: "I don't want to discuss that. We are working hard on keeping our Constitutional rights protected."
Frances Rice, chairwoman of the National Black Republican Association, also declined to comment directly on Limbaugh when contacted by CNN.
The chairwoman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, Alci Maldonado, argued the issue was about freedom of religion from government interference.
"This is really not about contraception, a private matter," Maldonado said. "Liberals are confusing the issue."
CNN also contacted the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but did not receive a response.
– CNN's Dana Bash, Deirdre Walsh, Paul Courson and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.
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I no longer want my health insurance to pay for republican's erectile dysfunctions.
How long before Boner has to walk back his condemnation and crawl back to Limbaugh to kiss his.....ah....ring....?
More importantly, have the GOP presidential candidates weighed in on this? Would like to hear what the gaffer says, and then change his mind 20 minutes later.
The woman should sue Limbaugh for slander.
Boehner needs to apologize for the fact that Republicans even exist.
Does the first amendment forbid the GOP from intruding into my womb?
The college student & American women in general did not deserve these disgusting comments from Limbaugh.
It appears the young lady has serious grounds for a slander lawsuit against Rush for his deplorable defamation of character. Shame on anyone who would support or make excuses for Limbaugh's behavior.
Congress and the Administration can pass all the laws they want to support their "morals" ... but I will not ever support legislation that is against God's decrees.
Yikes, I think I actually agree with Boehner on this one, trying to capitalize on this for fundraising seems a bit iffy. But the main part of the story here is how appalling Limbaugh is. I think the advertisers on his show have been getting some heat for his comments, and rightly so.
GOP – too little too late to push back on THEIR OWN sexism!
GOP = the anti-women party!
The woman Rush was talking about was advocating for another woman who needed birth control for treatment of a disorder, which is common. Birth control pills are not just used for contraception, and Rush shows his illiterate, mad-bull charge was not only inappropriate but, totally off the mark.
This is a man who was caught with a boatload of Viagara along with a boatload of Oxycontin while traveling to another country for....sex?? Yeah, he can afford to buy his own only because of his rabid following. They help cut his paycheck. Paying for Rush to get a rush, eh??
Micheal Steel was Boehner's fall guy to make his statement, which makes Boehner a complete SISSY.
is that boehner had to say? nice try "johnnie", but we understand that you can't really say anything to piss limpbaugh off, because he would tear intoyour you know what before to the close of the day and that's exactly what cantor is waiting for. too funny.
I'm certain Boehner never told his collegues to not fundraise off of the so-called "attacks on religious freedom" by the administration: no, oh never.
I find it almost impossible to believe that anyone with a brain still listens to that jerk Limbaugh. Between him and his other buddies of the right wing they seem to only open their mouths to change feet.
If Boehner wants to decry fund raising over the remarks of *others*, then he should also decry fund raising by members of his own party who engage in fund raising after their *own* outrageous remarks. As I recall, the "you lie" guy racked up a million dollars overnight and bragged about it.
Wow bohner needed a letter before he acted...figures! anyone that heard this woman speak knows that bc is not about just sex....limbaugh is truely ugly soul.
Don't worry everyone. Weepy Man from Tan will be recanting tomorrow once the ditto-heads start their whining
Don't worry he will flip flop on this one just wait for it. As for Rushbo maybe he is looking for Wife #5 since the last four did not workout so well for him he could always ask Newt for some advice on that subject matter.
Ironic that a bunch of socialistic government workers were the first people ol' Rush called when he thought someone sent him a bomb.
Rush Limbaugh is just nasty. He used to say that he was speaking with half his brain tied behind his back. In reality he has only half a brain and it is besotted with venom and hatred for women. He appears
to be obsessed with filthy sexual thoughts. And the GOP panders to this man????
Congratulations, Cryin' John! You just painted a Bull's Eye on your back. Get ready for Ann Coulter to call you a Liberal and Glenn Beck to denounce you as a closet Communist.
what an ignorant fool, she was there to testify that contraceptives have other applications including for the treatment of debilitating female related conditions. Only a populist fool would lump this in as being about sex.
As a taxpayer, I would gladly pay for birth control, before I am going to be paying for people to have kids at the government's expense.
Limbaugh's comments are extreme, but what can we expect from people in the entertainment business?
Rush was right. 150% right.
Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter et. al. are the soul of the Republican Party these days. They, at least, have the courage to say what others only think. But Limbaugh should be glad that this wasn't my daughter he was talking about.