First on CNN: Boehner hits Limbaugh's comments as 'inappropriate'
March 2nd, 2012
10:59 AM ET
10 years ago

First on CNN: Boehner hits Limbaugh's comments as 'inappropriate'

(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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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.

Also see:

Seattle Times supports Romney as 'default choice' ahead of caucuses

Paul flier hits the other candidates

Gingrich robo call labels Santorum 'union bosses' pal'

Michigan results provoke accusations, ire

Filed under: Congress • Health care • House • John Boehner • Rush Limbaugh
soundoff (1,332 Responses)
  1. Dee

    That's it? "Inappropriate"? Totally lame.

    March 2, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  2. wgf

    @ roadwarrior - "she stands in front of a congressional commite and states shes having so much sex she cant afford to pay for her own birth control"

    Sorry to bring facts into this, but....

    What she actually said was that an acquaintance of hers was prescribed contraceptives to deal with lesions or cysts, and this acquanitance was unable to afford them, thereby causing her medical condition to worsen. None of which sounds like prostitution.

    March 2, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. asdf

    Limbaugh's lasting legacy will be that he was a less-important version of Joseph Goebbels.

    March 2, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. maf

    Boycott Rush (elRushbo – as his email states). This misogynistic tirade is completely unacceptable!
    Also boycott Clear Channel Broadcasting, as they have a "ZERO TOLERANCE" policy in their company diversity statement. Let's see if they have the ability to follow through on their own policy.
    Rush continually paints outside the lines. When is enough enough? I say, NOW!!!

    March 2, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. Evelyn

    As the women on this posting have noted, "inapproriate" is insufficient. These comments need to be condemmed in strong/ clear language and not clouded by irrelevent references to fundraising. Can he be sued by Ms Fluke?

    March 2, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. George

    interesting that Rush isn't calling the men who don't necessarily want to get their girlfriends or wives pregnant – "johns" or he-sluts. There's no negative labelling of the men who are enjoying the company of women – Rush is only attacking the women.

    Republicans need to stop making sex the issue they want to enforce and try governing instead. Everyone has different values. We don't all share your religious zeal. This isn't a question of religious freedom. A woman at that school having sex isn't going to compromise the morals of the school's leaders. But everyone there should have the right to get basic health care regardless of their sex, or whether or not you agree with them having sex.

    People WILL have sex, in and outside of marriage – no matter what others believe is right. Period. This isn't anything new.

    March 2, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  7. EgoSumLamia

    Condoms are not free at family planning centers. If she is paying a monthly insurance premium, then she isn't getting her contraceptives for free and it's used for more then birth control. AS for the people defending the slut statements, he just referred to any female member of your family that uses estrogen for medical conditions in addition to birth control. Basically I find that statement worthy of a punch in his fat face. And the message is coming from a Viagra thief. You supporters of his show are sick.

    March 2, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. Evelyn

    As the women on this posting have noted, "inapproriate" is insufficient. These comments need to be condemmed in strong/ clear language and not clouded by irrelevent references to fundraising. Can he be sued by Ms Fluke?

    March 2, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. I fear for this country's future

    Can anyone explain WHY we should pay for someone else's birth control ?

    March 2, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. maggie

    Pete and Eyele, you guys keep trying to argue common sense to a crowd that has no common sense. Lonewolf, if I were her, I'd be slapping that fat man with a lawsuit as we speak and clean his clock. He had no right to defame her in this way. She is not a public figure and I'm quite sure he has never even met her. But, whether it is things like this craziness going on in Virginia, the Blunt amendment, Santorum ranting or Limbaugh's excesses, one thing it is collectively doing is keeping the GOP disdain for women's rights on the forefront. May they all get their rear fenders thrown out.

    March 2, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. Jason D

    What a pair of lowlifes, you dont call things inappropriate when a woman wants to give her side and the beliefs of women to the wishes of congress and religion...limbaugh is a fat non sensical bigot who should have been removed instantly..only his right wing slant keep him employed, they can call people the n word, monkeys, nappy headed and still work, they can call women sluts and still keep going, even raising money for the GOP and the GOP will accept it in all its sewers like raising.

    They scream for NPR people to be fired and yet let this scum continue to spew hatred, sexism and racism at every turn but considering they are controlled by corporate money, and the fox news criminal empire they forgive everything they say, from calling a black congresswoman a crack smoker to this girl a slut, they should be made to pay with their professional careers, this is not freedom of speech but slander and liable on a corporate scale

    March 2, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  12. demwit

    Condoms cost 75 cents. How many does she need???

    March 2, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. Independent voter

    Has Rush Limbaugh ever had sex? Has he ever sex with a woman in the traditional sense? Does his audience of men have sex with women? What does this say about him and his fan base? I know the GOP has benefited from Limbaugh but this is a embarassment to any adult. This comment has nothing to do with Limbaugh sexual preferences. Most gays know what I'm talking about. Its about adults have sex and many practice birth control. If insurance pays for Viagara, shouldn't birth control be paid for? If your religion does not allow birth control, you should not use birth control. If you do, you really should be honest with your clergy. By the way, how does Limbaugh think of the fact that large families often qualify for and need foodstamps.

    March 2, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. Yomi Olalere

    This can only be happening in United States where "First Ammendment" empowers to insult the President and speak ill of women.

    March 2, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. maggie

    Truth and Nothing but the Truth, so is keeping your kids healthy. Why should I have to pay for their health problems? same same.

    March 2, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Patrick

    I think he was stating a point about the overall demand, not actually calling this particular girl a "slut". His point was the practicality of a law student coming up and making a speech for free contraception because she can't afford condoms/etc. is silly.

    Why should tax payers be forced to provide free contraception for everyone? Why do people think they're suddenly entitled to it? Why should health insurance companies be forced to provide it?

    March 2, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. martin

    I kinda enjoy most of the "Obama is Bad" programs, including Rush. But you have to keep in mind they are part of the entertainment elite and are subject to the same delusions of grandeur. Just like Charlie Sheen or Linsay Lohan, the get to thinking they are above reproach or even above the law. And, sometimes, given the cult of celebrity that we have in this country, they actually are.

    March 2, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  18. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    And can you imagine that all those poor deprived law graduates probably have to spend thousands on alcohol, drugs and concert tickets! Ohh... the horror, the horror!! Why can't they just pick up the phone to get their contraceptives paid for like everything else?! ring...ring..."Hello", "Hi Dad!".....

    March 2, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Murderfish

    The number one cause for reductions in Abortions in America? Birth Control. That, my friends, is a stone cold fact.

    March 2, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. paulm5545

    I didn't realize Mr. Limbaugh and his comments had such an impact or influence on the political parties. He's a talk show host, for crying out loud. Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Ken & John, etc. Condemn them all you want. I'm sure they love the publicity (I know Sharpton and Jackson thrive on it), It's what they do.

    March 2, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  21. ES

    She can sue Rush and the radio station for slander. She is a law student, so she should. She could make a few million dollars on this easily.
    With bullies like Rush the only thing that works is hitting them where it hurs the most. In this case – the money.

    March 2, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. Bob N

    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.

    March 2, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. Owen Meany

    This is 2012 not 1950. Mr. Limbaugh needs to be removed from the airwaves for his highly inappropriate comments and any politician who spouts similar views needs to be removed from office in the upcoming elections. Women are not going to allow their rights to be eroded by religious zealots.

    Incidentally, I thought we were fighting a war against an extreme religious group that didn't believe in the rights of women. I believe part of our dogma was to bring "enlightenment" to theses oppressed people and restore the dignity of women. How come when they degrade women and undermine women's rights in the US it's "religious freedom"?

    With that being said, personally I hope the GOP continues this insanity because it will guarantee President Obama's re-election and a Dem controlled House and Senate. Keep up the good work you GOP crackpots!

    March 2, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. maggie

    George Towns Door Knob is an insulting poster and nothing else. Condoms are for men, not for women. Obviously, you've never used one, at least not for its intended purpose. Secondly, birth control pills are not just for contraceptives but deal with a whole host of female problems that have nothing to do with sex. so keep posting and demonstrating to the world what a useless coward you are.

    March 2, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. Pertnear

    I think Rush's comments were too harsh, but his point was valid. Why do I have to pay for this woman to have contraception? Can't she abstain? Obviously, Rush should have not called this woman what he did – he could have easily done it better. However, I agree with his disgust at the idea of taxpayers paying for her contraception. If you can't afford it, don't do it.

    March 2, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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