(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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Weird. It's like I can't post stuff from work. Disappointing...
The republican party has lost its way. I'll pray that it finds itself but I'm not counting on it.
Why do so many people think this issue is about the government paying for contraception? This is about Insurance companies paying for contraception, whose premiums are paid by employers and employees. How is the government paying? Another case of, if you say something often enough, people will believe it, especially when it supports their biased view. Another case of blowing a non-issue out of proportion to cover the fact that Republicans have no viable contenders for the next presidential election. Sad.
Limbaugh, a Conservative, what a joke! When will the Republicans wake up to Limbaugh, he is #1, a junkie, and #2 a glutten!, but conservative ha-ha!
People, i think we r missing the point dem or repups ur like the bloods an crips thats a gang referance 2 those who dont know with ur fighting back a one another im just a silly laborer an it seems 2 me the ones who r laughing r ins people i pay 300 a month an i pay 4 everything i use office vist ect.. an theres 250 million just like me pay a little more little less an my friend cant get help with her autisic son now whats wrong with that ,god save use ..greed is killing us..
This Rush guy is a terrorist. He is his own cult, This is what we have as a role model for the young adults and people wonder why there is no respect. There are not enough adjectives to even describe him. Just disgusting . He is loving all the attention he is getting out of this, money in his pocket. creep
Republicans seem bent on making this election about religion, the preference of, the right of, the "in your face, my way or the highway" stuff. I am one, and it hasn't worked before and will not work now. I've never been so disappointed to see that we now tell the president to go to hell in a political ad!! We all have the right to disagree, but republicans seem to want that high office to just destroy it. There is no respect in congress, for the person who has the office of president, or for anywhere else in the country. If this is what having your freedom is all about, we, as a nation, perhaps no longer have the right to tell anyone else in the world what they are doing wrong.
Behind the scene, these Republicans are running to Rush and asking for his forgiveness. They are pleading, please don't hurt me Rush.
There is an appropriate response to comments like Limbaugh's, and it involves high-speed lead poisoning.
It would be a good thing for mankind if Rush were to drop dead today.
"An entertainer"? If you think that Rush Limbaugh is merely an "entertainer" you are a fool. Millions of people watch and listen to him every day because he represents their beliefs. They lack the ability to think on their own, so they let him do their thinking for them. He is their hero and speaks for them. "Entertainer"? Hardly. Conservative propaganda machine is more like it.
So its OK when liberal media calls Palin or Bachman similar names? This women will get a cushy government job with the Democrats in return for her election year "testimony". By the way...the real issue is whether the tax payer should fund her birth control and the answer is a resounding NO!
While I think using $3000 worth of contraceptives in one year is FUNNY, (does she have continual relations with all the sports teams in that college?).
The basic problem is the expense for students with meager funds.
If a high-profile liberal called Sarah Palin those kinds of names, then the liberal silence would be deafening. Enough said.
Limbaugh's comments are so very typical of the extremist views ever present in the GOP and its supporters.
Ignorant folks speaking for the ignorant GOP "leaders" – just so very disgusting and insulting remarks show the "real" GOP mindset.
I urge all women to pay close attention to who they vote for in the upcoming election for president. All Republican candidates have based their campaigns on taking womens right to choose away from them. If we don't want to go back in time to not having the ability to decide on our own what is right for us in the way of contraception and abortion we need to reelect President Obahma, he is our only chance to go forward.
Forgive me for restating the obvious. The GOP can only cower in a very dark corner.
This guy is insane, radical, extremist. Sometimes I listen him just to laugh. I can't believe how ignorant, stupid, racist, etc. A human being could be. They love this word "evil", so he is the perfect model in my dictionary of this adjetive. Good luck GOP, Obama will have 4 more years, keep the Senate and we'll for the house.
You Americans are such hypocrites. Where were these people when Sarah Palin was the victim?
it's funny- why is everyone always so worried about Rush Limbaugh? You listen to the liberals – he is more important than wolrd hunger. He liberals how can you make such specific complaints, if your not a listener yourself? Also – if he is so bad – why do you care– you should be happy he is exposing himself?
Also, has Pres Obama called the families of the military men murdered in Afghanistan last week over the burning of some book? Did he have time to do that? Or did the call to an obvious attention seeker take too much of his time? BTW. Was there equal outrage at Bill Maher's calling Gov Palin the C" word? Or when he suggested Eliz Hasselbach be sent over to the rapists in Cairo?
All these Religious Fanatics want Government out of their Religion. I want Religion out of Government .
They are crying your attacking my religious liberty,What about the Liberty of those of us who dont believe in Fairytales and live in the real world .They want say in Gov but Gov can have no say in religion .You cant have it both ways .Seperate Church and State Completely !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rush is a shock jock. He went too far. Way too far. And what is worse, is that on the issue, he is wrong. Health insurance is too expensive. Contraception is a highly cost effective form of preventive medicine that can not only help control insurance costs, but allows young people to plan their financial lives and those of their future children in a way that is best for them. Religious freedom? OK. But if you employee one person who isn't Catholic, what about their freedom? Is religious freedom in this country subject to majority rule?
The comment was inappropriate but the bigger problem is that administration think people are stupid enough to buy this person as the poster child for why this mandate is needed. If she is in law school she should be smart enough to know to go to planned parenthood or the health department to get free birth control. I find it insulting that they think people would fall for this.
t comment aside, why should my tax dollars pay for birth control? buy a condom.......