(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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Amazing....with all ot the social and economic problems caused by unwanted pregnancies, and the fact that
poor women have the most children because they cannot afford birht control...conservatives fight the common sense
approach to supplying women with contraceptives ??...in the long run...what is cheaper....birth control or unwanted children....conservatives seem so out of touch with reality
Sorry, but a statement from Boehner's office doesn't cut it. Mr. Boehner should be out there saying it from his own lips given the nature of this attack by Limbaugh. It would go a long way to mend the GOP's terrible standing among women voters right now!
Hmmmm...one does have to ask...if she can't afford contraception, why can't she just abstain? Is it that she knows she can't control her urges, so the taxpayers must pay to protect her?
We need someone to publish a list of the advertisers for the Limbaugh show.
What a clown, the GOP is making it to easy...
I would have just said she was like a well used door knob. Everyone gets a turn. Besides I saw her "testimony" and it was total B.S. comdoms are given for free at family planning centers. Maybe she just isn't too bright. Well I'm sure a few law firms just signed her up to be the next lady to sleep her way to the top. Congrats for setting women back 2000 years.
What did the law student actually say? Nobody is reporting that. That should be included for comparison to see just how twisted Limbaugh's remarks actually are.
I'll be around. Where there's a rich white guy in need of another tax break, I'll be there. Wherever there's a brain dead woman in need of expensive life support her husband doesn't want, I'll be there. Wherever there's a country that needs invading for reasons that don't quite pan out, I'll be there.
What person with any brains listens to Lin the Disparager? This should not come as a surprse to anyone, he does this all the time. He does it specifically to play to his ultra right, six pack drinking non-intellectuals. He is one of the most divisive characters on the right and he probably relishes that. Sad part of this is he gets paid to act this way.
Keep talking Rush. You're only helping the other guys get re-elected. lol
Limbaugh is vermin through and through.
Why is it always "a spokesman"? Why is it always "inappropriate"?
John, you are the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Surely you have the courage to stand on your hind feet, step up to the podium yourself and condemn these slanderous remarks in direct and unmistakable terms.
His spokesman say he condems the comments. But Bohner could not come out and say so himself, speaks volumes.
Don't the taxpayers pay for Rush's Viagra? I guess that makes him a gigolo! LOL
Mr. Limbaugh has no problem with insurance companies covering Viagra and similar drugs though they are solely for the purpose of enabling intercourse. The pill, meanwhile, has a myriad of healthcare uses and goes way beyond the prevention of conception.
How can anyone be so ignorant? Obviously what Limbaugh said was vile, but it's not even accurate–there are plenty of valid medical reasons for a woman to be prescribed oral contraception besides contraception. It can help with menstrual problems, hormone imbalances, etc. etc. (The same is true of Viagra; besides its use as a sex aid, it can be prescribed as blood pressure medication, WHICH IS WHY IT'S COVERED UNDER INSURANCE.)
This is not exactly a secret and takes about thirty seconds to find out. I guess this goes to show how much he cares about women, if he can't even listen to them for that long of a stretch. Disgusting human being.
loathe Limbaugh, but his comment is not that far off the mark.
So the people who are defending Sandra Flue are s**** (amazingly censored by CNN), no big surprise there.
Does Limbaugh think that you have to take more pills if you're having more sex? Does he not know that a lot of virgins use the pill to help control their menstrual cycle? The real argument is this – you have the right to practice your own religion as an individual as you see fit. If a health benefit doesn't agree with your religion, you're free to not use it. You don't have the right to say that you disagree with X so you're going to deny that right to your employees – that's not about you practicing your religion, it's about you shoving your religion down others' throats. If this is OK, every employer could just convert to Jehovah's Witnesses and stop providing healthcare to their employees at all.
It was rather hilarious to see that whiney little rich kid whine about how the poor graduate law students were so put out spending money on their birth control. TOUGH! Get a job and pay for it or better yet, KEEP YOUR LEGS CLOSED! That is a ZERO cost option!
Pretty weak, Boehner-
And nothing about the fact that he also said he wants her to put sex tapes on line so he can watch? What a slime bag and this is the guy that Republicans salute as their leader? Family values Republcians? Self acclaimed Christian Republicans?
Get real. What would Jesus say? Throw Limbaugh off the air and fine the heck out of Clear Channel – come on FCC! We, the public own those airwaves!
Limbaugh calls a woman a prostitute and tells her to have sex and videotape it. Let's see:
1. He is soliciting an act of prostitution, which is a crime in every state, and
2. He wants millions of unmarried women who want free contraception thru their health plans to send him videos. This is solicitation for the interstate transport of pornography, and thus makes him THE biggest porn purveyor in the world.
Clearly he belongs in prison.
I oppose tax-payer funded contraceptives, but Rush Limbaugh is scum. There is no rational justification for what he said. Anyone who feels that Rush speaks for them is a failure as a human being.
Who really cares? My feeling... what happens in someone elses bedromm is their business. Use my dollars to support what happens in that room and now I have a right to be involved. That's how it works, tat how government creates law where never before they would. So, if we allow the governemnt to be involved here now, don't cry later when some group, some politican wnats to take it further because this is how it works.
I don't understand why congressional Republicans need to "refute" anything said by that blowhard Limbaugh. Why is he so closely intertwined with the GOP? If someone on MSNBC says something stupid, does it automatically get shot down by Obama? No it doesn't. That's the problem with the GOP, their whacko talking heads Limbaugh and Hannity say whatever the hell they want, and the general public takes them at face value.
It's time to separate the media from Congress. No more mixing of the 2.