(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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Did Limbaugh give tan man permission to say "inappropriate"? No doubt we'll shortly hear tan man choking out a grovelling apology to the actual head of his party and begging forgiveness.
Don Imus was fired from MSNBC for making inappropriate comments about young college girls on his morning radior program, "Imus in the Morning." Let's see if Limbaugh gets the same treatment!
Priceless. Boehner couldn't be seen himself coming out against the mighty Rush, so he had his spokesman do it for him. It's all too sad that Rush Limbaugh is even taken seriously these days. But I guess as long as there are these people who can blindly fear on another person's whim, he'll always be active.
It's quite honestly the equivalent of a cult.
And Limbaugh said taxpayers want something in exchange for insuring contraception. He said taxpayers want her to videotape herself having sex and upload the tapes to the Internet for everyone to watch. Surely now true conservatives will have had enough of this man.
There comes a time when there should be limits on "freedom of speech". If entertainment means getting away with slandering innocent people then there should be more of a punishment than the Speaker saying it was inappropriate. It was downright mean and nothing else.
Boehner repudiating Rush Limbaugh is like him repudiating the Easter Bunny. Wholly irrelevant.
Limbaugh is right.
I seem to remember Don Imus losing his job for controversial comments towards the Rutgers Womens Basketball team. Maybe this will get this Blowhard off the air....Finally!
any good law student could argue eiter side of this one. :)
He should not have used the "s" word. That is demenaing. He should have said "a lady engaging in the oldest profession."
I think Limblob should be fired
It's frightening to think there are people in this world who feel that Limbaugh genuinely speaks for them. What justification can there be for this? I disagree with tax-payer funding of contraceptives, but I think Limbaugh is a scum bag.
Rush Limbaugh is a conservative political icon, expressing the views of conservative politicians – which is why Mr. Boehner stopped short of disagreeing with Rush. American women should take note of this.
It is high time that there be some push back by decent folk in this country to the mess brought about by radical conservatives. This is a first volley, there will be more.
Cities who have watched their federal funds for needed project cut by a Congress that believes that cutting is the only way to go, are also beginning to push back.
It is high time decent people be put in charge, and that does not mean the current Republican leadership, in the House or the Presidential race. Where are the decent Republicans – the one's who put America first – not their party and Tea Party ideals?
Bigot. No other word for Limbaugh. If calling attention to the redneck bigotry that underlies so many conservative issues helps to raise funds to combat that redneck bigotry, I say more power to them. That man is such a sleaze, and the conservative cater to him like an idol.
What is wrong with these Republican men?
Notice it was his spokes person who made the statements. Why didn't the tan man come out himself and say it so he is actually on record going against the Rush real face of the republican party.
Rush is exercising his first amendment rights...... and IF she (the student) did make such comments, the Rush spoke the truth.
Weakest of the House labels Limbaugh's remarks "inappropriate", then adds a caveat about fundraising.
These remarks, especially Limbaugh's apparent solicitation for "viewing" sex through this young lady's
"video" tapes, is beyond 'inappropriate'.
They are vile, despicable and typical of a self-loathing person, which Limbaugh is.
Not one other Republican/TeaParty person, Presidential candidates included, have rebuked these comments.
Disgusting display of weakness is putting it mildly, and reveals their interpretation of Christianity as false and
OINK! How come the republicans like him until he embarrasses them? They should PUBLICLY disassociate themselves from him......FOREVER.....which won't be long for that unhealthy looking pile of...........
Limbaugh is an uneducated, loudmouth,obnoxious blowhard! I'm amazed so many people listen to this jerk!
He was probably slapped around and bullied as a kid....seems the type(his mouth getting him into trouble).
This clown ought to be hawking fish on a seafront somewhere!
It takes a letter for Boehner to rebuke the most powerful loud mouth neo-conservative. I wonder what will it take for him or anyone to rebuke the Federal judge in Montana who is a raceist. If, I had made comments about our previous President George Bush and don't let it be their great hope Ronald Regan as an africian american judge. They would have immediately called for an investigaton.
A real man will protect and defend a women at any cost and not cast blame on others who are willing to do so.
Limbaugh's: No respect for women including his 'Wife'
Does Limbaugh respect women? NO. Does he have a woman 'wife'? YES. It therefore follows the logic that since Limbaugh doesn't respect women, and his wife is a woman, then he has NO RESPECT FOR HIS WIFE. What shame and disgrace he has brought to himself, and his wife? oh! What a NERD? Is this what freedom of speech really means? NO!