(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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excuse my spelling above: condoms
your coverage is weak-you did not even print the news !!!!!!! you ducked the words he used- poor job on your part cnn
Saying Limbaugh's comments are inappropriate is an understatement of epic proportions. Limbaugh's membership in the human race is in question each time he opens his mouth and spews – this time it was a veritable Niagara of misogyny and the best Boehner can do is label it "inappropriate."
I know he's sitting in a corner wetting his pants as he waits for Limbaugh to revoke cross him off the Great One's Christmas card list, but Tanman really needs to demonstrate a bit of the leadership to which he was elected.
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?
I am buying a new car and it has seat belts and front air bags...... It has side air bags but they are at extra cost.
I believe the gov't (or other tax payers) should pay for them for me. After all they will only increase my safety and possible cut down on future health costs. dont start a "war on drivers" ans start attacking me now just because I want you to pay for my safety and well being....
How has the right allowed itself to become such ignorant pablum? This was one time I had to respond with my wallet.
Rush knows he can say whatever he wants to and never suffer any ill effects. He called Chelsea Clinton 'the new White House dog' and nothing was ever done. His followers love it and would forgive him if he murdered their own mother.
Once again Limbaugh proves that he is an utter swine. Of course, we all knew that already.
Liberals still routinely use such words and much worse when referring to Palin and Bachmann, so why are they upset now? Oh, I forgot–liberals never make mistakes.
does anyone really expect any different from an addict? The guy is a fat POS that Reps give WAY too much creditability to
It turns out she is a 30 year old women's activist. She went to Georgetown specifically to attack their health care policy. The whole story is disingenuous. In the end, she is a liar as well as promiscuous. Rush is right. You all seem so happy to pay for her promiscuity, send her a check. I do not want to pay for it..
hangar13, of course you are mixing apples and oranges. The comments made here about Sarah Palin were the opinions of people with bad manners and limited vocabularies. They should have apologized, and frankly they should not have written those comments in the first place. Their bad manners and poor behaviors, however, do not rise to the stupidity of Rush, as a public figure who is the messiah of the stupid. Rush certainly has the freedom of speech, but this has only allowed him to show what a completely broken man he is. I think it hilarious that you lump "librals" together as if there is some sort of common behavior. Clearly, you, yourself aren't very bright, and probably have an education that has reached the lofty heights of high school, meaning you're probably holding down some union job somewhere, without realizing that unions were formed in the 20's and 30's by liberals who were looking out for the common man, who was being victimized by big corporations. Of course you don't see that irony at all, as you take part in health care that was fought against by conservatives in the 30's and 40's. Sure, liberals are angry, but they're not angry for the reasons you think. What they're angry about is that conservatives like you do not for a moment think for yourself. You listen to people like Rush, who is an marginally-recovered drug addict, a serial adulterer, and a pederast (go look that one up), and take his words as the truth. The reasons liberals, and other conservatives (like myself) are angry at people like you is because you are hiding your bigotry and racism behind the conservative label. We conservatives don't need people like you. We need thinking, reasonable people. Go home.
I hope ALL voters now have a VERY clear picture of what it would be like to live under a R e p u b l i c a n f a s c i s t / t h e o c r a t i c d i c t a t o r s h i p.
It Economics 101. Rush Limbaugh is the supply and his idiotic listeners are the demand. There will never be a shortage of idiots so Limbaugh will continue his trash talking radio program until he dies. It's hard to imagine what he could say that would really threaten his program. If he threatened to assassinate the President, he would be told that his language was inappropriate and proceed as if nothing happened.
I assume here that all those who believe that insurance should not cover contraception would also agree that insurance should not cover vasectomies as the one and ONLY reason to have a vasectomy is for birth control. Birth control is birth control, male or female, you can't have it both ways.
Seems I am the subject of censorship again.
rush is a hater and his followers buy into his propaganda! He must be hitting the pain killers again though...this was pretty extreme!!
I can't wait for all you redneck republican rush supporters to be crying this fall when your horseshi* candidates lose by 30 points to Obama....boo hoo hoo :(
Republicans lie and they defend lies with more lies.
Where is Obamas morality and ethics when the mayor of Los Ageles cheats on his wife,,
He just put on his superman costume and he is flying out there as we speak.
By the way, a cat just fell out of a tree, must have been Obamas fault.
Offensive or not, Rush is right. If this student doesn't like that a religious affiliated university doesn't offer contraception coverage because it contradicts their church's teaching, she should have applied to another university that did not hold those beliefs. Or maybe she should pay for her own contraception since she's the one using it!
Amazing to me that CNN is all over this story and yet when the Reps were getting blasted by the Dem senator woman in California calling them every name in the book and saying some should be killed, nothing was mentioned. The president didn't say anything about that either but he gets involved in this and the Dems go nuts. So the liberals can say and do anything they want and it is ok but the second a Rush says something they jump down his throat. Nice to see Comrade Obama and his team stifle free speech yet again. Go Commies Go!
I supported Rush before I condemned him!....Romney
Rush Limbaugh has obviously never heard the term "defamation of character". This woman should sue him for all he is worth.
Amazing to me that news is all over this story and yet when the Reps were getting blasted by the Dem senator woman in California calling them every name in the book and saying some should be executed, nothing was mentioned. The president didn't say anything about that either but he gets involved in this and the Dems go bonkers. So the liberals can say and do anything they want and it is ok but the second a Rush says something they jump down his throat. Nice to see Comrade Obama and his team stifle free speech yet again. Go Commies Go