House and Senate Democrats have been agressively raising money off Limbaugh’s repeated attacks on Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who testified in favor of birth control coverage at the Catholic school.
Obama said he phoned Fluke, who was labeled a “slut” by Limbaugh, because he was thinking about his own daughters, and that women like his wife could make up their own minds about how to vote.
“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 said. “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 called Fluke, he said, “because I thought about Malia and Sasha, and 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. ... And I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.”
Obama also sidestepped a question about what some Democrats are calling a “war on women” with a reference to his own wife.
“Women are going to make up their own mind in this election about who is advancing the issues that they care most deeply about,” he said. “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.”
He noted that women would vote on “a whole range of issues. It’s not going to be narrowly focused just on contraception. It’s not going to be driven by one statement by one radio announcer.” Democrats, he argued, “have a better story to tell to women” across the board.
Of course, it’s also smart politics for Obama to position himself as above-the-fray on this issue while letting other Democrats go on the attack.