(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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Rush is a disgrace to humanity: he finds pleasure in humiliating others.
Rush Bimbaugh's time has come and gone. He is such an anachronism. He is an entertainer and a buffoon. He panders to the worst instincts and fears in order to enrich himself and hides behind his mic rather than debate in the public square. Nothing he says can be taken seriously.
Is Boehner crying in the picture? There's no crying in politics. That man is going to have a heart attack trying to answer for all the bs that comes out of the republican attack machine.
Just another rant from a fat drug addict.
This guy... I don't even have the words to express my disgust.
And to think, 20 million Americans believe him like he was, well, again I am at a loss for words.
A hateful little man and his hateful little minions have ruined the republican party.
Why do liberals hate the truth?
Well, it sure looks like Rush Limbaugh is a genius here. Millions in free publicity AND ticking off the leftists and womens libbers. All with a few seconds of work. It is truly a miracle to behold. All you leftists are real tools!!
That's the trouble (or one part of the trouble) of the current GOP. Allowing that old gas bag to set the talking ponts for the Party. It's why I'm now a Democrat.
I was more offended by uhbamas 'bitter clingers' or 'typical white person' comments.
It's inappropriate that any thinking people actually pay any attention to Limbaugh. As stated above, he's an entertainer, a clown.
good ol' GOP conservative values
My health insurance is mine, not my employers. I earned it as part of my employment package in lieu of a full salary. If my employer does not want the insurance company that they contracted with to pay for my medical needs, then my employer can pay me in cash the portion of my salary that currently pays for my health coverage and I will purchase my own health insurance. Then there will be no issues concerning the employers religious beliefs and what medical insurance will cover and there will be nothing to apologize for or excuses for name calling. Problem solved.
One good thing is that limbaugh has not reproduced! This is probably why he is so arrogant-he knows that he only "shoot blanks". After 4 wives-he will not have any heirs-thank God!
John Boehner should have made the comment on National TV, rather than having Michael Steele speak on
his behalf. This shows how disingenuous he is. It goes to show the GOP really do not care. As for Rush
he has shown his followers that he is most certainly a pervert.
People should boycott the companies that sponsor his show.
Sandra should get a Lawyer and sue him for everything he is worth.
Sadly, all four GOP candidates running for Presidency do not make one.
What a bunch....
Why do people listen to him? His vitriol is unbearable. Who likes to hear 1 full hour a day of hate?
To all the people who question why contraception should be covered:
1) You don’t get to pick and chose what is covered for other people on your plan. And If you disagree, did you ever consider that other might not want to cover your needs?
2) Contraceptive drugs are used for other treatments besides birth control.
3) Ask yourself why you really care. My guess is that those who oppose this have no need for contraception and are jealous that someone else does.
This is what the freaks of the Republican party believe. Taliban like rights for women is what they want.
Remember this ladies when you go to the voting booths.
Limbaugh's remark absolutely crosses the line and I've always thought he was a jerk. But guess what else crosses the line? Thinking you have a right to have the taxpayers pay for your contreception? Are you crazy? What is wrong with this country where people have grown to believe that taxpayers must fund their lives? Give me a break.
Rush is no more than a WWE villain. Just like you'd never hear the Iron Sheik (an American) chanting "USA", you're going to hear this crap from Limbaugh. Everyone over 12 knows wrestling is staged; I think it's time they realize that the characters of Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, etc. are as well.
They really should precede anything they say with, "do not try this at home".
Limbaugh has essentially taken over the GOP, without the GOP being aware. Pretty slick.
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. Just read the comments posted by the supporters of Rush and you will get my point.
Is there a correlation between the facts that Limbaugh doesn't like women and that he is frequently seen with huge cigars stuck in his mouth?
That's it. I want all men getting their ED drugs paid for with my tax dollars to post videos of their escapades. All 12 seconds of the footage.
If taxpayers pay for Viagra, then taxpayers should pay for condoms. It's only fair!