(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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Anyone who listens to or agrees Limbaugh is already at a disadvantage. As another poster said, his followers will agree with him til the end. Then when Rush passes on, with them, the world will be a different place.
Rush is right.
And you Libs can't handle it.
Come on people! Limbaugh is just a professional entertainer, nothing more. His words are not meant to be taken seriously by intelligent adults. It is only rhetoric, nothing more.
Rush should have been aborted long ago.
Rush fits right in with the Repubs efforts to take all women's rights away.........Any one that votes for the Repubs or listens to this idiot Rush deserves what they get...........Turn him off ....Vote them out....that's how to get even with these clowns
To all commentors claiming that Rush has no right to say such derogatory things, may I remind you, Al Franken wrote a book called "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" Looks like the left can dish it out but can't take it.
What a party GOP has become! It has become an assembly of boorish, poorly educated, religious zealots, who show absence of compassion and even common sense in public discourse. I am ashamed to have been once associated with them. The world and most of us are incredulous at the lowest level of human intelligence.
Let me get this straight Rush. The insurance shouldn't cover birth control. It will however cover pre-natal, birth, and delivery costs. Tell me again how this make sense and saves money??? Rush is an idiot.
How about the Dems apologize for something Jon Stewart says or Bill Maher? What does an entertainment program have anything to do with what goes on in Congress or the WH? Stay focused people. Grow up.
Bonehead Boehner and FA Rush both deserve a whopping tornado dropped right on their homes. It will come...Enron boy got his eventually.
I'm just wondering if this administration can DEMAND that insurance companies give products away for free, can I put in a request that they DEMAND that Starbucks give away free coffee? I'd sure like my cup of Joe for free. I can't afford $5.00 a cup. That could easily add up to $3000.00/year. Why, I could even buy myself a used car for $3000.00
Yes, because Republicans don't like anyone raising money to oppose them based on what they have actually said or actually done. Remind me again how many times Rush Limbjunky has been married.
wow, that's a pretty rough "hit" on El Rushbo!
how will he ever deal with such a disgrace!?
nice of Mr Steel to also include an attack on other people in his elaboration.
"Inappropriate"? Is that the best the Speaker can do to defend someone who is smeared after she testifies before one of his committees?
Bohner, it is you who is "inappropriate".
I was born in '42. My mother washed my mouth out with soap on a couple of occasions. Is Rush's Mother still around ?
I'll buy her the soap to wash his mouth out. Bet she would do it too ! He is a common bully that hides behind a radio.
Of course no one wants to pay other people's bills but as long as American's are paying the highest medical costs in the world relief is warranted. The problem lies with inflated insurance, health care and big pharma profits and executive salaries. Mr "I fear for this country's future" your ire is misdirected.
rush is right. obama is a pimp and this is one of his subjects
As a conservative i am continually appalled by what has happened to the conservative movement in this country. Think Dwight Eisenhower, Gerry Ford, Ronald Reagan, etc. and then think Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, etc. It's very sad, because now i have to vote liberal just to get away from these imbeciles.
Rush, Rush, Rush, sounds like you are in the pill bottle again and the filter on your mouth is failing you again.
You will end up broke and ignored in the very near future. And once again the world will see Karma in action.
Keep talking Rush, the hole is getting deeper every time you open your mouth.
In the Ideal World According to GOP, the very wealthy 1% would be living in their castles being served hand and foot by their peasant serfs. Their life expectancy would be 100 and that of their serfs, 23. Their infant mortality rate would be 0.00001 and that of their serfs, 80%. Just like 800 years ago! You know, the Good Old Days.
Rush's language was certainly out of line however, a young woman who attends a $45000 per year university has no business asking her birth controll to be free under an insurance plan paid for by raising rates on others in the plan that need real health insurance. As usual the Dems bring her out to make us feel bad because she and others find it hard to pay for contraceptives. Now the HHS person says that having fewer babies born would save the Ins companies the $ to pay for the "Free" contraception coverage. How stupid do they think the American people are?
mr obama is the best president money can buy!
'inappropriate'.....I wonder how he would call it if it were his wife or mother that the comments were directed at? Maybe he'd just shed a few tears and old Rushie would get on his knees and beg forgiveness. Yeah, right!