(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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"If the college student Ms Fluke is 26 or less, she can be on her parents med policy if either parent has one."
Try paying attention, Lyn. Ms. Fluke testified about her friend's need for birth control pills because of a medical problem. A lot of you rightwing extremists have been blathering incorrectly that this is about Ms. Fluke's use of BC. More of your lies.
Limbaugh is a fat, gasbag rabble-rouser... not worthy of attention.
This man totally disgusts me....he and his foul mouth should of been run out of town years ago. The simple fact that anyone continues to allow him to broadcast just astounds me. His demise from radio couldn't come fast enough.......you know, I was a Republican.....the operative word here is WAS! They just lost my vote!
Perhaps Rush Limbaugh had a little too much Oxycontin that day!! I agree - Rush is totally off base with these and most of the comments he makes.
This issue is about what is covered in a medical insurance policy and what is in the interest of the general public. I don't think any business or church should have the right to veto what is covered by health insurance. The "cost" borne by the religious organizations is a MINUTE and insignificant part of health insurance coverage. I would challenge them by saying they would not even notice a difference in the premium - so they are certainly not "forced" to pay for anything.
For some religious organizations, they need to be mroe concerned about their liability coverage for deeds their leaders performed on the young!
Boehner, with his dog-eyes and despite his spray-on tan, always looks like he just got up with a hellatious hangover after a weekend of boozing. He's the poster boy for what happens to the college frat boy as middle age and countryclubitis sets in.
This was stated yesterday,and it took CNN this long to report(but they made sure the so called threat to Limbaugh made news first)! This is degrading and Limbaugh should be forced off the air. I do have to agree that Boehner did the right thing. The attack's on women by the GOP has become intolerable. We are moving backwards in this nation due to idiots like Limbaugh and some of the other GOP members.
Rush is right.
Hey, U.S. Bishops. Time to slap the wrists of a Republican – for the first time???
Rush is right. The girl should pay for her own contraception.
Is it true that limbaugh choked on his own vomit on the air? Americans certainly see the hypocrisy of these republicans now mildly rebuking this fistule. Their ignorance and pandering on the question of contraceptives helps keep this viagra challenged little bit of nothing on the air. With this latest rant though I think even among his red meat crowd he has become nothing but a silly old has been.
Rush, shut your huge trap for once and for all. You're one of the biggest idiots in the media. I've heard of you, but I've never listened (and never will) to your stupid show. I really wish this young lady would say something about your drugs, but she's way above you when it comes to decency.
wow, Limbaugh really is a psycho, no wonder he supports the GOP
I quit listening to my local radio station about a year ago because of people like him putting forth their hate speech.
Limbaugh should be fired from his radio program for such a comment about a woman who came forth to express her views. Whether one agrees with her opinion or not, one should be at least decent. Limbaugh cannot allow a civil discourse. Instead of arguing the issue, he attacks the woman. I should think the top Republicans should do more than call such indecency "inappropriate".
Republican leadership had better denounce Limbaugh's rhetoric publicly. It's already looking like you will be destroyed in 2012 by an angry public, and it's because of men like Limbaugh.
I don't necessaryily agree with RL's comments, but doesn't anyone want to say; "hey! Wait a minute. Why should Georgetown U. pay or any other U.S. citizen pay for her contreceptives?
The government has indoctrinated us all into believing they can take care of us craddle to grave. So sad. What will all of you do when the have's stop paying for all this socialism.
Well, there you have it. The voice of the Republican Party. Once again, Limbaugh shows the world what it means to be a real Republican. It's even more amusing to see how Republicans either try to skate the fundamental issue, the crude and hateful speech voiced by Limbaugh, or distance themselves from their prominent spokesman. Quite frankly, if I owned a radio station that carried Limbaugh's program, I'd cancel it now. Enough is enough.
limbaugh endorses gingrich , who has the morals of hugh hefner and he´s name calling ? republicans , who needs them !
Rush is right, why are women so special, I am getting sick and tired of the female race wanting everything.
This man should not be a loud to be able to talk on the radio at all. And I don't see how his sponsors even put up with his Crap. I have never listen to him and never will. He Is the Biggest Hypocrite and a bigot I have ever seen.
Planned Parenthood, Lyn? Who do you think the Republicans are trying to shut down? Or , maybe you just don't really read the news. This isn't just about so-called 'freedom of religion." These religions have become a fourth, and unelected, branch of the government. If Sandra Fluke and the Democrats don't get involved, say goodbye to Planned Parenthood and eventually a woman's right to use contraception. As for Rush, he is a bloated, bilious, putrid bag of dung and what he needs is to be taken off the air. This isn't freedom of speech, it's slander. And as for Lynn using her parent's insurance, or any insurance, that is exactly the thing that these religions and Republicans are trying to take away from women. You're not real bright are you?
Boehner's statement through Steele is the singularly most disingenuous and cowardly act I've ever witnessed. Equating the vile and baseless language used by a mysogonistic rightwing retard with the act of raising political funds to fight such inappropriate political mudslinging is moral relativism at its very worst, and it should make Boehner's old comrads in Soviet Russia proud of their political stepson.
The story and these comments are repleat with [R]'s non-commital and avoidance of criticizing their medi lord. [R]s are the worst kind of cowardly dogs and they are a malignant stain on America.
Hopefully she sues the Pillsbury Doughboy for slander – she has an open and shut case. If she was my daughter or girlfriend they would be burying Rushbo soon.
looks like it is not ms fluke pie hole she needs to shut. it cost $60000 a year to go to georgetown w/ room and board, sorry rubbers were not thrown in, go buy your own you liberal piece of horse flesh!
obama is a great president!