President Obama today said that thinking about his own two daughters compelled him to call the Georgetown Law School student derided as a "slut" and a "prostitute" by conservative talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh.
Limbaugh assailed Sandra Fluke on his radio show last week for testifying before Congress that insurance companies should fully cover birth control for all women, even if the institution or employer has religious objections.
"I thought about Malia and Sasha," the president told reporters today of his decision to call Fluke last week to offer his personal support. "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."
"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," the president said at a White House news conference today.
Limbaugh has since apologized for his remarks, saying he was wrong to use that type of language. Obama declined to comment today when asked if he thought the apology was heartfelt.
"I don't know what's in Rush Limbaugh's heart, so I'm not going to comment on the sincerity of his 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," he said.
The president also skirted a question about what some Democrats are calling a Republican "war on women."
"Women are going to make up their own mind in this election about who is advancing the issues that they care most deeply about. And one of the things I've learned being married to Michelle is, I don't need to tell her what it is that she thinks is important," Obama said.
The president stressed that women are going to vote based on a range of issues, not just the issue of contraception.
"It's not going to be driven by one statement by one radio announcer," he said. "I'm not somebody who believes that women are going to be single-issue voters. They never have been."
Obama did argue, however, that "Democrats have a better story to tell to women about how we're going to solidify the middle class and grow this economy, make sure everybody got - has a fair shot, everybody's doing their fair share, and we got a fair set of rules of the road that everybody has to follow."