(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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why do people listen to this nut case. He is so wrong about most of what he says. He is a liar, cheat and a low life and his listening audience is as abtuse as anyone can be. he makes millions on mis informantion, fear mongoring and trashing this country. why do people listen?
I would love to a responce from Rush lovers. who are a bunch of loosers also.
I can't understand why people listen to this blowhard. He has no education, and no background to be taken seriously. He is an entertainer, nothing more, nothing less. Movies are not real and neither is what comes out of Rush's mouth.
Birth control isn't just for contraception, it's also used to treat some rather painful complications. Whether or not it can also prevent pregnancy is no one else's business, its a health issue, so it should be covered. Also, a woman getting pregnant is a woman being taken out of the tax payer pool and put onto food stamps. Contraception is far cheaper to the tax payer than raising a child. Not to mention the cost of healthcare throughout the pregnancy and the birth, which are very expensive, would also not be paid if someone can't afford it. It really doesn't matter what other people should do, how people think they should behave, because they cannot legislate the lives of others unless they want the same done to them. You can only address reality, not your individual ideals.
A few givens: Fluke is promiscuous. Fluke wants someone else to take responsibility for her promiscuity. Fluke could have gone to a university that provides free contraceptives to its promiscuous students. She CHOSE to go to a Catholic college. Any questions?
It's readily apparent that Rush was the pasty faced little fat kid that everybody bullied and never had a date, which apparently hasn't changed much but I think Boehner should be careful when he critcizes his boss! Oh yeah he had a staffer do it, he didn't have the nads to criticize viagra boy himself!
Limbaugh... a prescription drug abuser...who listens to this bozo?
I want some beer to destress, so add that the health care too! If you want birth control, BUY IT YOURSELF.
Looks like Ol Rush is off his mds again
Who really cares. This poor excuse of a man is making it much harder than it already is on his Republican friends. Making this whole election a cake walk for Obama. Next?
Rush doesn't need a penis Rush is a penis that's how he spreads his disease we called it V D
One has to question CNN's judgement about which comments they allow here. In just one page I saw one that bemoaned that fact that Rush was not the "Dead" conservative. The other called for violence against Rush saying that it would be proper. Your tollerant liberals on display again.
Any woman who votes Republican is out of her mind.
Why should we pay this girl to go screw guys? I'd rather pay for her education, not her promiscuity.
Actually, anybody who votes Republican is out of "thier" mind.
A friend of mine that I worked with met a good friend of Limbaugh once. Limbaugh's friend said that even Rush doesn't believe half the things he says – he says it for ratings and then laughs all the way to the bank.
Under the same logic, health care is paying us to get sick.
Why was OK for Chris Matthews to call Newt a "Terrorist" repeatedly on Hard Ball? Look on Youtube and see this for yourself. while i do not consider this that big a deal, what concerns me is the lopsided coverage by the media. If a Republican makes an outrageous comment the media is all over it and vilifiying them. If a liberal does it, no mention or it gets very, very little coverage. We all know Rush s a Conservative. he doesn't mask that. We all know chris Matthews is a liberal. So why jump on Rush and not Chris? It's called hypocrisy.
If you become a public figure then be ready for nasty hateful comments.
Lib lib agrees when it comes to Joe the plummer, almost every dem talking about wanting him and his family harmed, now that the lib is getting back one one billionith what Joe got they scream foul.
I wonder if these inbred holier-than-thou imbeciles in the GOP realize that the more they open their women-hating flytraps, the more of a sure thing another 4 years of Obama is?? Who do they think is going to decide the election? Independents and WOMEN.
Oh man, this is toooooo funny!!!! Not mention easy!!! Obama won't even have to spend a nickel campaigning, the GOP is doing it FOR him!!! LOL!!!!
@ Dawn, bravo! I have been trying to state the same things...though I cannot locate my posts, thanks CNN...
Rush haters aside, why should any of us pay for this student to party? He has a valid point. And then she gets pregnant, and...
There must be a lawsuit in there. She should take him to the cleaners.
Exactly! It's called "slander".
I believe what he said legally constiutes slander and if I were her, I would sue him and the station he works for. This man is kind of like the Taliban, he wants to remove all rights that women have, put them in burqus and send them back to the last century. He is obviously lacking in education, is fat and it is beyoud me why anyone listens to him.
Why was OK for Chris Matthews to call Newt a "Terrorist" repeatedly on Hard Ball? Look on "Utubee" and see this for yourself. while i do not consider this that big a deal, what concerns me is the lopsided coverage by the media. If a Republican makes an outrageous comment the media is all over it and vilifiying them. If a liberal does it, no mention or it gets very, very little coverage. We all know Rush s a Conservative. he doesn't mask that. We all know chris Matthews is a liberal. So why jump on Rush and not Chris? It's called hypocrisy.
It is UNREAL that anyone is defending him.