Rush Limbaugh Apologizes for Calling Sandra Fluke a 'Slut'

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"I think everybody on campus, or pretty much everybody I know, was pretty horrified by them," Hannah Dee, a senior, said of Limbaugh's comments.

On Friday, Georgetown President John J. DeGioia praised Fluke's "civil discourse" in a letter to the school and at the same time took a shot at Limbaugh's stance, writing, "And yet, some of those who disagreed with her position -- including Rush Limbaugh and commentators throughout the blogosphere and in various other media channels -- responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student."

Limbaugh, who mocked DeGioia's statement repeatedly on his show, appears to have suffered immediate backlash, at least financially. Two national advertisers – Sleep Number and Quicken Loans – say they have "suspended" their advertising on his show, and a third, ProFlowers, says it is "reevaluating" its marketing plan.

Democrats see the controversy over contraception funding as a major opportunity to paint the Republican Party as bogged down fighting social battles that mainstream America has moved past.

Before the Senate debated the legislation that would have repealed President Obama's contraception mandate requiring employers or their insurance companies to cover the cost of contraceptives, Rick Santorum had emerged in the GOP primary largely because of his positions against birth control, women in combat, gay marriage and abortion.

In a letter to supporters Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats had raised more than $1 million in an effort to preserve what they say are women's rights to contraception coverage. The party is also circulating a petition asking supporters to sign a request asking House Republicans to condemn Limbaugh's tirade against Fluke.

House Speaker John Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, declined to say whether Boehner thinks Limbaugh should apologize. "The speaker obviously believes the use of those words was inappropriate, as is trying to raise money off the situation," Steel said.

Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner for the presidential nomination, also waded into the controversy when he told an Ohio reporter that he didn't support the so-called Blunt amendment in the Senate, which would have undermined Obama's proposed mandate, and then said shortly after that he did.

Romney's reversal garnered widespread attention, despite his assertion in the same interview that he preferred not to talk about birth control.

"The idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, a husband and wife -- I'm not going there," he said in the interview.

"We're going to hold him to these extreme positions that he's staking out," said a Democratic strategist who asked not to be named.

The furor was undoubtedly a pleasant event for Obama, who, even after drawing criticism last month for a rule that required religious groups to cover contraceptive services, has avoided the spotlight as the GOP and prominent conservative voices like Limbaugh focused on cultural matters rather than highlighting many Americans' dissatisfaction about the state of the economy.

The willingness to move away from the economy conversation likely reflects the importance of key Southern states that will vote in the Republican primaries on "Super Tuesday" next week, where social issues remain important to conservative and religious voters.

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