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Republicans respond to Rush Limbaugh flap on Sunday talk shows

March 04, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Sandra Fluke waits for the beginning of a hearing before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on Feb. 23 on Capitol Hill.
Sandra Fluke waits for the beginning of a hearing before the House Democratic… (Alex Wong / Getty Images )

Rush Limbaugh's apology for his remarks about a female law student over her advocacy of expanding contraceptive coverage did little to quell the political fallout on the Sunday talk shows, where Republican guests faced questions about Limbaugh's remarks and the overall response of the GOP.

The first question posed to Newt Gingrich on "Meet The Press" was about "how much damage" Limbaugh had done by calling Sandra Fluke a "slut" for her support of an Obama administration mandate providing women with greater access to contraceptives through coverage in employers' health plans.

Gingrich, true to form, lashed back at moderator David Gregory and the mainstream press in general.

"I am astonished at the desperation of the elite media to avoid rising gas prices, to avoid the president's apology to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, to avoid a trillion-dollar deficit, to avoid the longest period of unemployment since the Great Depression and to suddenly decide that Rush Limbaugh is the great national crisis of this week," he said.

Eventually Gingrich said it was "appropriate for Rush to apologize," before quickly turning to call on President Obama to apologize "to all the men and women in uniform who he frankly abandoned when he apologized to religious fanatics in Afghanistan" -- referring to the president's expression of regretĀ  for the burning of Muslim holy books at a military base near Kabul.

TexasRep. Ron Paul, speaking onCBS'"Face the Nation," called Limbaugh's comments "crude" and questioned the sincerity of his apology.

"I don't think he's very apologetic. He's doing it because some people were taking their advertisements off his program. It was his bottom line that he was concerned about," he said.

In his statement, Limbaugh said he "chose the wrong words" in discussing Fluke's position. But he also called it "absolutely absurd" that Congress was even hearing a discussion of "personal sexual recreational activities." The topic, he added, should not reach "a presidential level."

David Axelrod, the top advisor to Obama's reelection campaign, called it only a "quasi-apology." The attack on Fluke was "predicated on a lie," that she was asking taxpayers to subsidize contraception, and Obama, he said, "did the right thing" by calling her to express support.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz criticized GOP candidate Mitt Romney's limited reaction to Limbaugh.

"The leading candidate on the Republican side for the president could not bring himself to call Rush Limbaugh's comments outrageous and call him out and ask him to apologize," she said.

Earlier in the show, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) called Limbaugh's comments "insulting." Gregory asked Cantor why Romney didn't also speak out.

"I'm sure, you know, if you ask Mitt Romney, David, I am sure he would also agree those were insulting words just as Rush characterized his own language," he said.

Conservative columnist George Will called the Republicans' reaction "depressing."

"What it indicates is that the Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran, but they're afraid of Rush Limbaugh," he said on ABC's "This Week."

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