- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 4, 2012

Democrats and Republicans alike said Sunday that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh was right to apologize this weekend for the inappropriate comments he made on the air about a law school student who testified on Capitol Hill in support of the Obama administration’s health care act.

But Democrats are unlikely to let the matter die anytime soon, accusing Republicans of waging a “war on women” while pressing the issue two days before the Super Tuesday GOP primaries.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said Mr. Limbaugh was “dead wrong” to call Sandra Fluke, a third-year Georgetown University law student, a “slut” and a “prostitute” for testifying before Congress that employers should cover contraception costs.

The radio talk show host accused her of wanting to “be paid to have sex” and suggested she should post sex videos online in return.

“Yes. It was insulting, and Rush has said as much,” Mr. Cantor said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Mr. Limbaugh “did the right thing” to apologize. But he also castigated the “elite media” for obsessing over the radio show host.

“The Republican Party has four people running for president, none of whom is Rush Limbaugh,” he said, telling NBC’s David Gregory that the media has failed to adequately report on all sides of the issue that sparked the debate: the Obama administration’s recent requirement for employers and insurers to provide free contraception coverage.

The administration later agreed to exempt religion-affiliated universities, charities and hospitals from the mandate, but it hasn’t yet released a final rule.

Mr. Gingrich cited religious leaders who have said the mandate will force the Catholic Church to shut down universities, schools, hospitals and charities.

“I’m kind of amazed that there aren’t more voices in the elite media in favor of religious liberty in America,” Mr. Gingrich said on ABC’s “This Week.” “There’s no place in America that’s difficult for [Ms. Fluke] to get contraception.”

In Saturday’s apology, Mr. Limbaugh said his comments were “an attempt to be humorous.”

But Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz questioned Mr. Limbaugh’s sincerity.

“I don’t know any woman in America who thinks that being called a slut is funny,” she said on “Meet the Press.”

The Florida lawmaker suggested Democrats will continue to press the issue of women’s access to contraception during the presidential campaign.

“There is a dramatic contrast between President Obama and his view that women should have access to affordable health care, including contraception, and Mitt Romney and the Republicans, who believe that women should not,” she said.

Mrs. Wasserman Schutz also called out GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney for not speaking out more strongly against Mr. Limbaugh for his comments.

“The bottom line is, the leading candidate on the Republican side for president couldn’t even bring himself to call Rush Limbaugh’s comments outrageous and call him out and ask him to apologize,” she said.

Mr. Cantor, who announced he was endorsing Mr. Romney on the same program, agreed the Limbaugh remarks were inappropriate and said “if you ask Mitt Romney … I’m sure he would also agree those were insulting words.”

The comments sparked outrage and fed political tensions between Republicans and Democrats, prompting Mr. Obama to call Ms. Fluke on Friday to thank her for speaking out. While Mr. Limbaugh initially doubled down on his comments, he posted an apology on his website Saturday, saying he didn’t mean to personally attack Ms. Fluke.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that ProFlowers is the seventh advertiser to pull its ads from the Limbaugh radio program as a result of the controversy.

The other advertisers that have pulled out: Quicken Loans, mattress retailers Sleep Train and Sleep Number, software giant Citrix Systems Inc., online data backup service provider Carbonite and online legal document services company LegalZoom.

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