(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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Boehner is a wimpy coward. He can not speak for himself? his spokesman has to handle this? The GOP will burn in hell for their treatment of women and hopefully lose every seat in Congress at the next election.
I look forward to reading that someone finally turned Limbaugh off.
I I have to say that now I am confused as to who says the craziest absurd nut wad things, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, the Ayotollahs or Auckmedimmaywacko. Today Rush wins hands down wow really what a nut. It is disgustingly hilarious a person could be so ignorant
Rush will pay dearly for his vile comments to Sandra Fluke. He is losing his sponsors, two of his sponsors have already dropped him, and will lose job.
Stay classy, Rush.
Rush has always been a nut, but this time even the right wing GOP of today was embarrassed by this vitriolic windbag.
Debbie's right – this statement did not come from Speaker Boehner but from "his office". Not even worth mentioning until he dares denounce the loser.
A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.
Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter et. al. are the soul of the Republican Party these days. They, at least, have the courage to say what others only think. But Limbaugh should be glad that this wasn't my daughter he was talking about.
Oh so it's ok to disrespect women as long as it's not 'your women'. Give me a break. Men thinking is dangerous.
Actually, Mr. Santorum, Rush is actually in exactly the same business as you, and just as reasonable.
Frankly, I know of no one in this country who can't obtain birth control if it were a priority to them. I'm just tired of women who are cluelelss saying they are speaking for me. Clearly, I think the Democrats who are trying to make an issue of this stupidity and the media should get a life and move on.......... Surely, there is more to talk about than something that was really never an issue until our president needed one.
Come on Boehner, isn't "Massa Rush" just setting the tone for the conservatives? The man is certifiable.
Glad to see that the characteristically intelligent, thoughtful and considerate Jesuit's represented here by Georgetown's president John J. DeGioia are true to form (unlike the Catholic vermin at Notre Dame).
So far I haven't heard a word of condemnation from the Christian Right about Rush Limbaugh's "inappropriate" comments.
Give her an aspirin and call me in the morning.
Who cares about the opinion of a drug addict? Just throw some Oxycodone pills on the floor and watch him scamper like the vermin he is to get them.
How any woman could be on this guy's side, whether it's on a softball team or in polotics is WAAAAY beyond me. Can you say masochist?
Fluke has degrees feminist studies and policy analysis and now in DC getting a law degree where she mysteriously gets tapped to testify in congress? She was president of Georgetown chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Rights that already lobbies for free birth control. The little law student was tapped by her political friends who she's nearly completed her way to joining. The whole thing was a contrived farce and she lied saying contraceptives cost $3000/year.
Rush is just trying to catch up with all of Santorum's ignorant comments.
Why is it that Don Imus gets chased off the aitr for caling the Rutgers Womens basketball team "ho's", and yet Rush Limbaugh is able to make similar comments everyday and nothing happens?
If it is indeed possible, the 'lowest common denominator' that Rush Limbaugh is appealing to is getting even lower. Would any credible public speaker say such things? I wonder if Mr. Limbaugh himself has been called a 'pimp', or a 'procurer' by a credible public speaker? I know many of the rest of us have uttered such sentiments.
Serious question. What is the argument to cover birth control? Isn't birth control a preventative measure?
No one pays for my 81 mg aspirin to prevent heart attack. Or my toothpaste to prevent dental disease.
Why would birth control be covered and other prevention measures not?
Her folks have to be absolutely ashamed of her for getting up in front of the country and basicialy saying "gee – I can't keep my legs together so much.. that i can't afford the massive high cost of a pack of pills and some rubbers to keep from getting a baby". I mean – like what does she need – 5 packs of bc pills a day or something? My bc pills – without insurance – cost $15/a month.
Rush is only saying what the GOP feels. If Rush says it then it's no skin off the GOP's back. That's why no GOP has really condemned what Rush said.
I wonder if Rush get's his hugh amounts of his little blue "V" pill paid for? Anyway, I would rather be what he said then a big fat pig with a little hot dog that he can't keep up.
Whats next, maybe the tax payer should buy them all toilet paper too? Just another liberal with their hand out.