(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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Limbaugh is a pig. If the Republican Party had any integrity at all, it would boot the guy all the way to Iran where he belongs.
Wait, did I say, "If the Republican Party had any integrity at all?" Silly me, that just shows my age. Republicans haven't had integrity since Eisenhower.
Limbaugh is a pill popper so I take his comments with a grain of salt.
Do people realize that women pay for insurance, too? I pay $600 a year, just for medical insurance for myself. Is it unreasonable to ask preventative care to be covered WITHIN that cost? Or, because the care involves female ***uality, it is off-limits, evil, gross...
Absolutely the most disgusting American living today. The puzzling thing to me is how can any woman, with any minimal amount of education, support Limbaugh and/or the party he actively promotes...
Thank you Mr. Speaker.
So do taxpayers pay for Viagra? If so... why should they?
Should put this lib ho in jail.
Obummer probably put her up to it.
Only he would stoop this low.
This will cost him the elction by a landslide.
You libtards are going down.
Man, if he had to do something like this every time Rush said something inappropriate, stupid, or just plain wrong, he'd never have time to do his actual job. Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing...
The real fun is watching truth all in flames about Bill Maher.
Truth is Insurance companies should just cover it with no charge on the basis that it probably saves them money.
I think a pregnancy costs them around $30K. The pills sound like a bargain.
Is ANYONE really surprised at Limbaugh's attack on women, or Boehner's limp reproach of him for having made the attack in the first place? Limbaugh, for years, has been showing the world what a woman-hating bigot he is. And his foolish followers have, for just as long, been showing us what kinds of people they are. It is long past time for a serious boycott of Limbaugh's "employer", Clear Channel media, and the sponsors of Rush's propaganda department of the Republican party. When enough sponsors like Century 21 Realty feel the heat of an outraged public they'll pull the
plug on fools like Limbaugh...
Rush's ratings are falling all over the place, and his demographics are aging. He knows it. Notice we are going into the critical Spring radio ratings, so Rush needs to get into the newspapers and get that publicity going. Just like Ms Coulter when she wants to sell a book....say something "controversial". But see, it is not really controversial. Because–like Coulter's remarks– it is a calculated statement designed to get attention. Is it genuine? Is it real? Who knows with these people. They are synthetic. They are actors playing news analysts. Rush is a college dropout. He enrolled in Southeast Missouri State University but left the school after two semesters and one summer. According to his mother, "he flunked everything".
What can anybody say about Rush and what would be the point of dignifying him with a response. No dittoes from this corner.
Too funny!!! :)
Hy his definition, anyone who takes prescription drugs would be considered a drug addict. Of course, he is an addict of drugs that are not subscribed to him, so he truly is a drug addict.
Rush should be gone! I, for one, am BOYCOTTING his SPONSORS. I am also using all my influence to urge my friends and family: 19 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; 2 great-great-grandchildren to BOYCOTT anyone who is foolish enough to sponsor his spewing hatred.
Fluke should sue Limbaugh, so that he curtails his libelous remarks in the future.
El Rushbo.....another one who has a problem with his lips moving before he thinks. He may have half his brain tied behind his back but his comment has caused Sleep Train Mattress to pull their advertising. Wonder how many more will do the same? Seems Twitter is all a flutter with posts encouraging other advertisers to bail from advertising on his show.
Translation: I'll condemn fundraising off the opposition's gaffes until I have an opportunity to do the same, then it's ok.
I cannot provide any new perspective which has not been articulated millions of times. I can only jump onto a train which has already left the station. The entire world sees it and has said it. Only the base of the GOP does not see it because of the rigidity of its base, its dictatorial management style and the "fear" which has imprisoned their irrational minds. Those moderates who are left in the GOP are imprisoned and Mr. Speaker cannot do anything about it. All he can now do is try to minimize the damage being done to his GOP.
The base of the GOP believes in repression and oppression. They value loyalty and authoritarianism above all else. It is an ancient model for the structure of society. We are becoming a third world nation where the rich rule and the middle class will live on the edge of subsistence becoming ever poorer without hope. If the GOP succeeds in November GOP rule will complete the task. It is very sad. We once had a GOP which was respectable. I once admired and sometimes voted for candidates of the GOP. I even voted for Mr. McCain, but when he ran for president on 2008, he jumped into the abyss and has never recovered.
The joke is on anyone who thinks that Rush Limbaugh is still relevant.
See how his spokesman spoke for him and not Boehner himself if it was so inappropriate. These republicans are so out of touch, hypocrites, liars, fear mongerers and anything else that shows that this party is going off of the cliff. Anyone who votes for a republican needs their head examined. Don't let them drive us into the ditch again.
I don't understand how Rush still has a job. Does anyone remember Don Imus calling the Rutger's Women's B-Ball team a bunch of hos? How is this any different? Fire his obnoxious, drug riddled behind so I don't have to read about his nonsense any longer.
Woman and free contraception – NO.
Men and free viagra – Yes.
You do the math.
Truth wrote, “Should put this lib ho in jail.” For what? Being the type of woman that finds you unattractive? There are not enough cells in the world for all those women.