(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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Can anyone explain WHY we should pay for someone else's health care period?
Everyone on their own I say. Can't afford that $50,000 bill for your child's broken leg or $400,000 for your child's chemo? Well then you shouldn't have had one if you couldn't cover the bills, eh?
rush will win this with his rushheads..he can NEVER make an error in their yes. he has and will say worse but continue to make millions and get support of millions..this is what our country has come to. and my bet is now that boehner has said something anti rush ( though mild compared to what was needed) the ultra right will lambast him for it and get some one to challenge him in his re election bid...the far right is very rightoues and knows no limiits to hate and fear.
HYPERBOLE ...You guys will never get it, you voted for the guy who sold his hope and change on the same type of literary device. Exaggeration for dramatic affect!
Can you explain why people in your residence had to pay taxes for YOUR education, or the roads YOU drive on, or the police that protect YOU? Some people.....
Anyways, get a vaild argument, not a republican one that a 5 year old can out debate.
Well Bob N, I take it you also believe health insurance shouldn't pay for viagra. I mean if you can't afford your viagra then you shouldn't be having sex. Oh and last time I checked birth control is prescribed for lots of conditions that have nothing to do with having sex. The same could not be said for viagra.
I will be happy to donate to groups fighting this activity. The entire issue at very least is disgusting. Any brother, husband, father, or male friend of any female should speak out against this attitude. This entire discussion is not going anywhere good.
Truth and Nothing But the Truth – Once again you miss the point. It's fine if you disagree on policy, but calling someone a slut is beyond inappropriate. You wouldn't like it if someone called you an uptight prude that never gets any action would you? I'm not calling you that by the way, I'm sure you engage in appropriate unprotected marital missionary style sex on a regular basis, but I'm just sayin'.
Rush Limbaugh is a fossil from the 80s. He's irrelevant. Anything he says does not require a rebuttal or repudiation from anyone, let alone the Speaker, the President, or anyone else with more important things to do.
Do not hold your breath. We don't know yet if Mr. Boehner is going to call, to apologize. In the event he doesn;t, this is probably one of the most courageous things a Republican leader has done in years. Then we'll say "kudos" to him. As for Rush Limbaugh; whatever can be called 'spirit', 'soul', 'essence' in mankind, became moribund in him, a long time ago. He is in need of salvation but he doesn't know how to ask for it. His listeners and supporters, by their devotion, keep him in his darkness. He agonizes more and more but they can't here his pain. His only consolation if we can call it that, is his money but we musn't forget the anguish of King Midas. There is no joy in the man. Don't you feel sorry for him?
How is it that taxpayers are paying for the health insurance of employees/students of a private university like Georgetown?
Rush Limbaugh should be tossed out with the rest of the trash. One would have thought social evolution would have carried us beyond mean-spirited biggotry. Acceptance or weakkneed repudiation of this kind of filth is hurting the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.
From the ridiculous to the sublime.....
Rush seems to find new levels of bottom feeding if that's possible...
Rush needs to learn how to me more sensitive in his comments. Like when I would describe someone like Rush who doesn't mind putting the best interest of the USA aside as long as he can make his millions spewing his garbage I would use a euphemism such as "The "I" word" rather than just outright calling him an idiot.
I love going to baseball games, but if I can't afford them. I don't go. Should my employers health be required to pay for these games as its a stress relief? This gal is nuts, and though Limbuaghs words are a bit course, he is right about the issue. Cant pay you cant play..
Now substitute Viagra, which is covered by insurance and see how ridiculous your comment sounds
Let's hope that this insensitive, ignorant comment will be the end of this irrelvant windbag's career.
"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."
Sorry Rush, the amount of sex being had has no bearing on how much birth control a woman takes. One pill a day, still the same shot, the IUD has a set number of years, not a finite number of sexual encounters its effective for, nice try though. More Rhetoric. blah blah blah. Keep using your show and feigning religious morality, or at least twisting its words, as a means to preach hate, racism, and sexism. Just be thankful that in America you still can. At least you're not in Syria.
I am also pretty sure that Ms. Fluke, as a woman and law student is pretty qualified and educated to be able to discuss things like WOMEN'S health issues.
First we have what I can only characterize as a "wimpy" slap of Limbaugh's wrist by the Speaker. Thanks for really standing up for America's women, Mr. Speaker. Now, those rabid "conservatives" to which the Republican Party panders (i.e. "good ol' boys") have begun commenting here on something they prove by their comments they know absolutely nothing, zip, squat, diddly about. I wonder how those boys would feel if the issue were whether or not insurance (not taxpayers, guys, insurance companies) should pay for treating their E.D. problems. Yeah, some member of the Republican Party gives me a reason to go ballistic just about every day.
Do not hold your breath. We don't know yet if Mr. Boehner is going to call, to apologize. In the event he doesn;t, this is probably one of the most courageous things a Republican leader has done in years. Then we'll say "kudos" to him. As for Rush Limbaugh; whatever can be called 'spirit', 'soul', 'essence' in mankind, became moribund in him, a long time ago. He is in need of salvation but he doesn't know how to ask for it. His listeners and supporters, by their devotion, keep him in his darkness. He agonizes and cries out in pain more and more but they can't hear him. They can't feel his pain. His only consolation, if we can call it that, is his money but we musn't forget the anguish of King Midas. There is no joy in the man. Don't you feel sorry for him?
Seeing as to how republicans keep calling Limbaugh an "entertainer" Boehner forgot to say that all in all he was thoroughly entertained.
just to clarify, the fundraising is being done primarily by women's groups to fight the gop assault on womens rights. Perfectly appropriate given what is going on.
I bet Rush's health insurance covers Viagra, and it covered his past treatments for drug addiction. Why not birth control? Ms. Fluke pays her health premiums why shouldn't it be covered as part of a comprehensive health plan?
let me get this right. Insurance has an opportunity to cover the cost of contraceptives, which: 1. In the end, cost is far less to cover contraceptive than birthing costs - we ALL save. 2. No abortions needed – wow, the freak religious are saviors.
Why would idiots as Rush deny savings? Abortions? The guy is no doubt a wacko.. Then again, most intelligent folk already knew that.
I am sick and tired about this new wave of hateful and disrespectful attacks to women from the bigoted Right. These white, rich, old men must be having some serious self esteem issues these days.
Hey there, Mr. or Ms. I'm with: I fear for this country's future
"Everyone on their own I say. Can't afford that $50,000 bill for your child's broken leg or $400,000 for your child's chemo? Well then you shouldn't have had one if you couldn't cover the bills, eh?" Yup, this should have been the policy years ago, then we certainly wouldn't have to worry about the likes of you because you obviously wouldn't be here. Not a member of the 1%, are you?
Rush's comments do convince me that some peoples parents DEFINITELY need access to contraceptives!