(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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ok..so Michael Steel is his spokesperson??...I'm
I don't recall Mr. Boehner repudiating the numerous instances where Republicans were fund-raising off of inapproprate comments made. Remeber Joe Wilson's "You Lie" comment? Boehner seems to be the inappropriate one here.
Limbaugh represents all that's wrong with his party–intolerance, disrespect, arrogance and lack of shame. Why do soooo many Americans support him? Because they are just like him. And yet claim to be Christian. O Woe is American politics.
inappropriate?? thats all he can say? how about nasty, vile, disgusting. You lose all credability when you soft pedal your rebuke of this jerk. What he said was awful plain and simple.
Today's republican party–what's not to dislike?
Usually, one must go to a bowling alley to meet a man of Limbaugh's stature.
Rush Limbaugh is not in any way, shape or form an elected ( or electable ) Republican candidate. He is an entertainer at best and not one I ever choose to listen to. In fact, the only ones who really take him seriously are the Democrats.
John Boehner did the right thing by dismissing Limbaugh's entertainment banter for what it is. Cheap radio.
Isn't that nice of Mr. Boehner, to say that Limbaugh's comments were ....'inappropriate". Wow, that strong statement just knocks me over. I sometimes wonder if these guys ever had a mother, a wife, or a daughter . And, you guessed it, that root of all evil has to come into Boehner's conversation, i.e., money! Pretty neat attempt to change the direction of the subject away from the Republican leader. No wonder our country is in such dire straits.
Limbaugh spews what the Republicans believe and they love him for that. However when the Democrats get contributions because they don't agree with the Repubs then they ask Rush to retract it. Make up your mind, do you want him doing your dirty wok or not? You can't have it both ways!
wow, limbaugh's powers of discernment and logic are remarkably–ignorant.
"nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. MLK
by the way, if there is room in the world for limbaughs–and there is–there must certainly room in the world for "sluts."
i would much prefer the company of a "slut" over a limbaugh.
Rush Limbaugh controls most of the Republican Party, and therefore controls all of the Republican Party, which controls half of Washington, which means he controls all of Washington, and therefore personally controls the direction of the entire country, which makes him more powerful than the Federal Government of the United States of America. When something becomes more powerful than our Federal Government, and therefore a threat, it does one of two things: Either it orders that it break up into smaller units (like Ma Bell), or it orders an all out military invasion (like Iraq).
When is someone going speak up and help us realize that Rush Limbaugh is using our beloved Right of Free Speech as a bludgeon to beat all of us bloody and senseless for his own amusement?
I don't think Rush is worried about what we democrats think of him. His only worry is that Obama IS re-elected in the fall. What would he rail aganist if Mitt is elected. The whole country is talking about the fat slob right now. He's loving it.
Rush is outrageous and likes to say things that probably even he knows is inappropiate. Mr. Boehner being more refined and intelligent was correct in condemning such drivel.
The world just might end in 2012! Boehner-head actually did the right thing – But we all know he went home and cried about it. - Good job, for once.
The republicans are eating each other. I've never seen anything like it. Keep at it, boys!
Enough John! Stop letting the looney left make you dance to their stupid tune! Expect to do this on a weekly basis now. Just tell them to go talk to Limbaugh because you aren't his representative.
Speaker Boehner better look over his shoulder. Limbaugh may go after him on his political entertainment talk show.
What a site, the RNC falling apart! Just too easy!
Duck and slide . . .
Given that the GOP is attempting to limit a woman's right to control her own body, it is correct to use the remarks to raise money. Many parts of the GOP are in fact acting as if they agree with Rush's remarks.
"Some groups and lawmakers also tried to fundraise off of the controversy" CNN editors, name them, please.
So typical of the GOP core. Maybe Rush is back on his ill-gotten meds and can't control himself? Naw... this is Rush, and GOP candidates will still kiss his ring for his audiance and their votes.
The entire republican party needs to repudiate his comments. Not only that, the FCC/ClearChannel need to hold Rush accountable. If not, we as the American people need to boycott all of Rush's sponsors.
Boehner and his ilk and terrified of big boss Limbaugh to come right out an condemn the slob's remarks. Why one person in this country listens to one word that man has to say is mindboggling. He talks of paying 'her' money, the guy has become a gazzionaire prostitute himself, simiply for spewing vitriol and hatred, and those that make him out to be a god should really look inside themselves to try to find where they went wrong in life.
Come on, politicians raise money off of everything and Bonehead knows it. It's way of appeasing the right. And hell yeah they should raise money off it. They need to get the message out that Republicans not only hate the poor and minorities but women too.