Obama explains phone call to Fluke
March 6th, 2012
03:00 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama explains phone call to Fluke

(CNN) – President Barack Obama further explained Tuesday why he called and offered support to Sandra Fluke, the law student targeted by Rush Limbaugh last week after advocating for contraception coverage in a Democratic hearing on Capitol Hill.

In his first press conference of the year, Obama said he was thinking about his own two daughters when he picked up the phone to call Fluke on Friday.

Tune in to the CNN Election Center tonight at 7 p.m. ET for live coverage of the Super Tuesday primaries and follow real time results on CNNPolitics.com, on the CNN apps and on the CNN mobile web site. Follow CNN Politics on Facebook and on Twitter at #cnnelections.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

"One of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on," he said. "I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way, and I don't want them attacked or called horrible names because they're being good citizens."

He added: "I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her, and that we want to send a message to all our young people that being part of a democracy involves arguments and disagreements and debate."

Limbaugh issued an apology this weekend, saying he did not use the best choice of words when he labeled Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" during his radio show last week.

Fluke, who attends Georgetown Law, appeared before a Democratic panel the week prior, calling for more coverage of contraceptives as a health care issue.

Her testimony came in the wake of a recent compromise reached by the Obama administration, which amended a controversial policy to now allow religiously-affiliated institutions to be exempt from paying for contraceptives in their health insurance plans.

Since Limbaugh made the comments last week, a flood of advertisers have pledged to take their business elsewhere, and two radio stations have pulled the plug on his show all together.

On Tuesday, Obama declined to comment on the firestorm that has erupted over Limbaugh's remarks, as well as the conservative firebrand's apology.

"What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don't have any place in the public discourse," Obama said.

Also see:

Santorum hits Romney as 'weakest candidate'

CNN Poll: Catholic support for Romney crucial in Ohio

Anchorage snow damages GOP caucus site

Santorum fires back at Obama over Israel claim

Filed under: Health care • President Obama • Rush Limbaugh
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Emmy Skaddittle

    Satire is protected speech where as attacking a non public figure is not.

    March 6, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. Chris

    @Debby the main thing you are missing here (besides that fact that this is not a 4 year old's oh yeah... well he said this debate) is that while Palin is a polarizing political figure, Ms. Fluke is a civilian. Civilians are off limits

    March 6, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. Wildernessyes

    I love seeing our President showing how at his base, he is a good man. A man concerned for others, especially all the women in our society. Put this man against the likes of Rush Limbaugh and I see a man of high quality and a man of low quality.

    It is very similar result when I look at the Democratic party/agenda and the Republican party and agenda. One is focused on growing our society and working through the problems that arise. The other is focused on going back, on stagnation, on a small number of the rich. Frankly on the 1% only.

    I will be voting for the Good Man in the race, Barack Obama.

    March 6, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. Jack

    Palin, Bachman are not Fluke. They are politicians who have said many nasty things about people in the course of their careers. Fluke is a young law student who has never publicly said vile things about others. If Palin & Bachmam and the rest were nice people and were innocently attacked by pundits Obama would reach out to them in some way. You know that. You want to run for office you will be called names. You should not be called names just for voicing, articulate, calm, reasoned arguments, even if you don't agree with the argument. That's the difference.

    March 6, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Woman In California

    What I find most distrubing about this whole matter is the sponsors who sponsored this hate show in the first place. As someone said yesterday, I wouldn't buy ANYTHING from any of them now or in the future. Any company that profits from that type of hate does not need my business.

    March 6, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. Greg

    Peter D only watches Fox News....

    March 6, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. Rob R

    Really people, you're getting on Obama for consoling a woman who was brave enough to testify before Congress on a hot issue that got publically ridiculed by the fat pig Limbaugh?

    Have you seen the list that came out of the most miserable states? Did you notice that of the top 10, 8 are traditionally Red states – mainly in the South? Why is that? Why is it that all these big tough conservatives so opposed to the President, and think they know how to run things better all come from poor, miserable states with a horrible quality of life?

    You know what state was ranked the happiest? Hawaii. Hmmm. Wonder who was born there.

    March 6, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. Kenny K

    @ Deby, @Loren, Keene:

    Palin is a politician just like Pelosi; both of them have been called horrible names. However, Fluke is not in that realm, and should not be subjected to such treatment.

    March 6, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  9. Mom in MN

    Let's get one thing straight - Palin is a public figure (and she happily made herself one by writing books promoting herself and giving paid speeches) and Ms. Fluke is a private citizen who testified before Congress one time. Someone calling Palin, a public figure, a name is totally different than Limbaugh attacking a private citizen calling her many vile names over the course of three days. President Obama is a public figure as well. There are plenty of instances on the right of name-calling and inappropriate comments regarding President Obama. Since President Obama is a public figure the outcry is much different than for a private citizen. That said, our public discourse should be better and the type of name-calling going one should be stopped by all. But, Limbaugh has brought us to a new low and there is NO comparison with any name-calling that was done in respect to Palin.

    March 6, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  10. Jariv

    So stupid. Democrats are people that have not yet developed. Yes, Rush was incorrect in calling that "s.l.u.t". But, when people are frustrated they say things that are not politically correct. Technically she might be in a way, when the government will pay for your s.e.x life protection. This goes against the principles that are good and morally correct. This country is becoming so stupid. To give an example. My dad has principles that he has thought us and he goes against them by voting democrat. He doesn't like government telling him what he should do and what he can't do, yet he votes democrat. He does not want easy access to s.e.x because of moral values, yet he votes democrat, so many things its like "WHAT?" lives me speechless and frustrated.

    March 6, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. winky

    Good job president Barack Obama!

    March 6, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  12. Mikey

    @Debby – Sarah Palin is a public figure, which makes her open to such attacks. Sandra Fluke is not. I do not know exactly what Mahar said, so I can't comment on that. Second, Mahar's donation was not made to the Obama campaign, but to a Super PAC. As much as I would like to see all this Super PAC and corporate donation thing go away (reverse Citizens United!!!), the President is not involved in the Super PAC – it is not allowed.

    Rush's apology was totally lame. He did not apologize for his four days of abusive statements. Only for using two words, which was not the worst of it. Rush is clueless about this whole issue and apparently has no idea what he did wrong – no wonder since he appears to be a borderline sociopath. Mitt Romney also said he only would not have used the same language as Rush – apparently meaning he did not have a problem with all the abusive statements and vile accusations either. So far, the only reasonable statements I have heard from the GOP/right on this came from John McCain and Ron Paul.

    March 6, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Ramesh Shrestha

    This president can feel your pain. I can say that for sure.

    March 6, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    Peter D:
    What lies Peter? Or better yet what lies have you manufactured to have spilled from the President's lips?
    You and your ilk are such pathetic liars on the other hand that it is no longer enough for you to make-up your own version of realities, spin actual events into frothy vitrio, but you now find it necessary to post your hallucinations and your hate under OTHER PEOPLE'S NAMES. You've always been liars, but now you're COWARDS as well. Pathetic.
    Obama 2012. Seriously America.

    March 6, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. A Kickin` Donkey

    Highly disappointing that Republican women commenting on this don`t have the "cajones" [Ms. Palin seems to think she has some] to make an unequivocal REJECTION of Mr. Limbaugh over his comment. Things never get better when prople play the "offsetting penalties" claim.

    Bill Mahr`s comment about Palin was a joke about a public, & incendiary figure. It wasn"t made on public, goverment regulate airwaves. It was made on HBO which doesn`t derive revenue from corporate sponsors.

    Limbaugh`s comment was made against a young PRIVATE woman in an attempt to bully & intimidate her. [Ms. Fluke has never maligned, attacked, or lied about people the way Palin has.] The FCC is empowered to apply morality standards to the open airwaves of radio as compared to subscription cable.

    Democrats consistently hold people to higher standards than Republicans [remember former Congressman Anthony Weiner?]

    It`s too bad Romney, Santorum. Gingrich, Paul [or at least Bachmann & Palin] didn`t come down as cleanly on defending this young woman`s right to participate in a civics discussion as the President did. It was a moment that revealed the leadership deficit that exists on the GOP side.

    March 6, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  16. concernedjoy

    What this article failed to mention is that the reporter who questioned Obama about the remark make to Ms. Fluke by Rush also asked his opinion on the filthy remarks made by liberals against conservative women. The President chose to totally ignore that part of the question. He simply said he can't comment on everything said – that that was up to the reporters and journalists! So – if you're a liberal woman Obama will stand up for you. If you are a conservative woman – there is no way he'll "comment" on the filth thrown at you! You are on your own, because the government-run media will not report on it also. Yes, he really is a president for ALL Americans, isn't he?

    March 6, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    "Yeah okay Barry, did you call Gov. Palin when Bill Maher called her a vile name."

    Gotta love the phony poutrage from you extreme rightwing losers who lack the ability to compare and contrast. If your hero Rush Dumbo has simply made fun of Ms. Fluke for saying or doing something stupid, then called her the same name as Maher, then you'd have a valid comparison. That's not what happened, though. Dumbo DEFAMED Ms. Fluke, Maher did not defame Sarah the Quitbull. I'd ask if you see the difference now, but studies have shown that rightwing minds are far too simple (and sometimes stupid) to understand nuance.

    March 6, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. Romney is not My Hero

    @Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    Oh thank goodness. That idiot troll who stole your name an started posting made me think that you jumped ship and joined the redumblicans. Glad I was wrong.

    OBAMA 2012!

    March 6, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  19. max33333445555

    PeterD, are you naive? Do you excuse the lies of those in your own party or candidates that you support?

    March 6, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  20. Thanks advertisers

    I appreciate the advertisers who pulled their money from this show. Is there a list of them somewhere so I'll know to support them & buy their products?

    March 6, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. Brenda - Ontario Canada

    Bravo Mr. President. Please people. one cannot compare Palin to Fluke. Fluke is a private citizen who simply wanted to present her argument on Capitol Hill – she embraced her democratic right. Palin chose to be a public figure and chose to expose her ignorance and intolerance to all. She wasn't qualified to run as VP and if she had had any self respect she would have declined when asked.To even attempt to compare an educated, well spoken lady like Fluke to an uneducated, spiteful, egotistical pit bull (alias Palin) is beyond the realm of reason. As for Limbaugh – he is a disgusting example of a human and a prime example of what christians really are – bigots.

    March 6, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. Anthony... proud tax payer

    PeterD.. please explain. Then back it up. You're hollow statement has no effect on the thinking kind around here. How bout it?

    March 6, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  23. FedUp

    I believe he is keeping up with his opinion that he didn't want his daughters to be "punished" by becoming pregnant. Gee, what does that say about them. As afar as I am concerned, God's greatest gift is definitely not a punishment. I pity the people who do. The college students also have the choice of abstinence.

    March 6, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Randy, San Francisco

    President Obama is a class act. and geat example of civility and honor. His daughters can be very proud of their father.

    March 6, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  25. concernedjoy

    I can't seem to pull up all the comments made here, but it appears someone must have questioned the remarks made to women in politics. Yes, they need to expect attacks, but how about their children? Yes, children are off limits if they're liberals, but it is open season for children of conservatives! And you know it.

    March 6, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
1 2 3