(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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republicans congress started this mess better they clean up
The gas bag allso known as Rush Limbaugh is helping Obama win in 2012 with his negative comments. What happened
to the Republican Party ? You have to know that you are shooting yourself in the foot. The Party if it's not to late needs
to move back to the center or you will get your butts kicked in 2012 !!!
Loudmouth Rust Limpballs has an incredible talent as an ventriliquist. How else can you explain the ability to talk out of your A7# and make it appear as though, your are talking out of your mouth? Go pop some Oxys Rust and just chill your non fans will love you for it.
Limbaugh is a crude hot-air buffoon whose lemming listeners seem unable to actually think for themselves. A lot of people have gotten very wealthy (Palin, Coulter, Cain, et al) by spewing hate filled rhetoric but he has become the richest of them all. The Republicans, in general, are afraid to criticize him. They are now controlled by the ultra conservatives, the radical evangelicals, and the people making millions preaching hate. I used to vote Republican. No more.
Limbaugh's still on the air??? And people actually LISTEN to him? REALLY?
Can't wait to see him cry when he hands the gavel back to Nancy in November.
Cheese & Rice, I go to the comments and the first one I fall on is this:
I'm with: I fear for this country's future
"Everyone on their own I say. Can't afford that $50,000 bill for your child's broken leg or $400,000 for your child's chemo? Well then you shouldn't have had one if you couldn't cover the bills, eh?"
Either he's joking or if he's for real, I wish him every plague and disease known to mankind.
That kind of thinking is what is going to sink the US all the way to 3rd world country level!
Did Rush's health care plan pay for all the drugs he was buying? I don't put much store in what a drug addict has to say.
Rush has no respect for women? Yeah, I noticed how much liberals and Democrats respect women in the way they've treated Palin, Bachmann, and Christine O'Donnell.
Did, I wonder, insurance pay for the pain medication Rush was abusing? At least that which he did not aquire illegally. Hmmm, and his rehab. . .
JD inTexas–it takes a lot of courage to disparage people long distance. You republicans really show your balls. It;s too bad you guys have never been in the service and in a war zone. Yes, it's too bad!
I wonder why a convicted drug addict and felon, with such a gigantic yellow streak, that he even tried to get a poor house cleaner to take his drug buying rap, gets any followers. Who could possibly be that stupid . . . . . . .
whats withe the hate???? this guy is a hypocrite and has more skeletons in his closet than I dare think about....its time to reject this foul, hate filled POS and his all oput assault on women
If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck....well you know.
Rush just calls'em like he see's em.
That girl ought to make her partner(s) wear a condom...no expense to her.
Rush's 4th marriage must not be working out too well. Don't know why he doesn't just come out of the closet. Anybody that hates women like he does must have some deep rooted hand ups.
Limbaugh is a fat, evil, drug addict. Why do people even listen to his nonsense? He should be fired! Only sick individuals listen to his lies!
What do you exspect from a republican party that says woman have no right to take care of their own bodies. Good luck in Nov. Dem landslide coming!!!!!
You folks do understand, that, when backed in a corner, all these AM radio fools (who I used to work with) will use the "I'm only here to entertain and not be taken seriously" excuse. Indeed, if suddenly the Arbitrons found a spike in listeners who enjoyed hearing f@rting, these AM clowns would all stnart eating beans.
It's the DOPE, people...it's the dope.
Um Hm...Let Limpball 's say what he wants,it's call free speech.Limpball what's the matter can't get a real woman still looking for young Philippine boys to fullfill your fantasy ?
I liked Rush better when he was stoned on prescription medication. This "clean and sober" Rush is much more mean spirited.
If we didn't have contraceptives, every man would be paying child support. Even Rush...
But he is right!
Rush wins again. Open your trap, say something stupid and lo and behold, your relevant again, event if for only 10 minutes. Rush is a lot of things, but he's no dummy! He's got to keep those ratings up to justify his $400M contract.
I'd call Rush a pig if it wasn't so insulting to the pig.