President Barack Obama told reporters Tuesday that Rush Limbaugh’s controversial comments about Sandra Fluke “don’t have any place in the public discourse.”
During the president’s first press conference of 2012, USA Today's Aamer Madhani asked him a series of questions about Limbaugh’s comments and potential business consequences for the conservative talk show host.
Obama declined to answer most of those questions.
“I'm not going to comment on what sponsors decide to do. I'm not going to comment on either the economics or the politics of it. I don't know what's in Rush Limbaugh's heart, so I'm not going to comment on the sincerity of his apology,” Obama responded.
However, he did say “all decent folks can agree” that Limbaugh’s comments were inappropriate. Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she testified before a panel that health insurance should cover birth control.
The President also explained why he phoned Fluke, a 30-year old Georgetown law student. He said he thought about his daughters Malia and Sasha.
“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,” Obama 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. And I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her.”
More than 30 advertisers have bailed on Limbaugh since his remarks. JC Penney joined that group on Tuesday afternoon.
"It has come to our attention that a handful of local radio stations may have played jcpenney radio spots adjacent to or during The Rush Limbaugh Show," the company posted on its Facebook page. "To be clear, jcpenney is not a national advertiser of this show. We have a strict “No Run” policy in place specifically regarding The Rush Limbaugh Show. After jcpenney confirms the facts, we will contact any local radio station that is in violation of our radio advertising parameters to ensure that our “No Run” policy is adhered to regarding this program."