(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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Obviously Rush is back on his $50,000 per month Oxycotin habit.
Question? Did Obama call the parents of the agent killed due to "fast and the furious" to support them?
Rush may not be an elected official, but there are many conservatives who take what he says as gospel.. He needs to be repremanded, not just by Congress, but also by his employer.
Time for him and his male chauvanistic ilk to go the way of the dodo!
We no more pay for that woman's prescription than we paid for Rush's pill-popping, doctor-shopping escapades. What an evil, hypocritical gasbag. Rush will do more to insure Obama's re-election than anyone else in America I guess that's the best revenge of all.
She ought to sue Limbaugh for slander...maybe that will shut his big, fat mouth.
bh: Thank you for confirming that god still creates unfathomably stupid people.
I'd say change the name in this article to one Bill Maher and lets see if all you hypocritical liberals use the same language when you "denounce' anything that vile human being says.. He says vile stuff everyday, and why aren't those kind of stories on CNN.. no, instead CNN interviews the guy, throws him softball questions and sets him up to rip up any conservative... So i dont see how this is any different.. accept that rush is a conservative and liberals are full of nothing but hate.. ALL OF YOU.. cuz if you dont denounce what maher says, than you have NO LEG TO STAND ON..Every person here who has commented is nothing but a hypocrite.. EVERYONE OF YOU..
John Stewart says things worse than this everyweek. But thats ok because liberals wrap that up as comedy.
They said the same things about Susan B. Anthony and all she wanted to do was vote.
So Boehner calls the comments, "Inappropriate?" Hmmmm. Wonder what he would call them if Limbaugh had said that about Boehner's daughter. His response should have been that the comments were disgusting and repugnant. Where is the GOP leadership on this kind of thing? Or they simply afraid to stand up to the GOP attack dogs? How pathetic is that?!
hey anonymous, when OCP's (birth control pills) are used for a medical condition (rather than for birth control) they are authorized with the insurance by the physician. That has nothing to do with whining that someone else is not paying for your birth control. Birth control of any kind is not an "inalienable right". You want to play, pay for your own birth control.
I think Rush is one hog that is ready for slaughter.
Sorry, but agree with Rush on this one. If you or your bo can't afford contraception, then you don't need to be having it. If it's really for protection and shoudl be paid for, then do you want to pay for my motorcycle helmet too? ... Didn't think so.
'Inappropriate?" That's the best Boehner can do? One could think of a host of better ways to describe Limbaugh's remarks; sickening, small minded, dishonest, vicious, misogynistic, evil, pinheaded, fatuous, bullying, desperate...
And where are the Republican women? Are they so afraid of Big Bad Rush that they are going to look the other way and pretend it was a just a joke? I see them pulling this "rush is just an entertainer" BS here too; what a load of crap that is. The man obviously has tremendous influence in the Republican party (why, I'll never know, but one only has to look at the obsequious deference shown to the big fat idiot by Republican leaders to see that it's true.)
Odd that we didn't see any of this outrage at similar (and worse) language directed at Sarah Palin every day on this very page. Mr. Limbaugh was wrong to characterize the college student that way, but there is a double standard here, isn't there? I LOVE bringing up the truth, it makes liberals so angry.
i think that rush hit it right on the head.
i agree with jim
Sweet Christ, I hate the GOP. All of them. Every last one.
Who pays for Rush's oxycontin and viagra? Best birth control available is to date Rush Limbaugh.
Rush called that one correctly.
so, the goverment has to pay all the welfare bums to have kids and these other sponges to not have kids?? whens it going to stop??
I loved women like this - we loved them long time in college.
Does anyone know if Rush Limbaugh has ever apologized for any repugnant comment he has made, or if he has ever admitted he made a mistake/lied?
Play the complete audio of Ms. Fluke. Should anyone else other than the woman pay for birth control? Really. Will you pay for my codems?
of course by giving these college liberals some rubbers it might be good, so we dont end up with any more liberals!