Spin Cycle

03.06.12

Obama, Democrats Pile on Limbaugh

White House steps up assault on ‘slut’ attack as advertisers bail.

If there was any doubt that the Obama campaign is going to seize the moment and run against Rush Limbaugh, it ended on Tuesday.

In a one-two punch that made clear their determination to keep Slutgate alive, David Axelrod and the president went after the radio talk-show host in ways designed to make news.

At a news conference designed to steal some of the GOP’s thunder on Super Tuesday, Obama sidestepped a question about a growing number of advertisers bailing on Limbaugh’s radio show, preferring to keep the focus on Rush assailing Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and “prostitute.”

“All decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don’t have any place in the public discourse. The reason I called Ms. Fluke is 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 … and I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.” He said such engagement should not “involve your being demeaned and insulted, particularly when you’re a private citizen.”

Obama was playing the dad card: imagine how you’d feel if a commentator called your daughter a slut.

The president declined to embrace Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s language that Republicans are waging a “war on women,” but said “Democrats have a better story to tell to women” on middle-class issues. When pressed, Obama said he would not comment on everything said “by politicians and pundits,” perhaps to avoid getting into a more direct spitting match with Limbaugh.

Earlier, Axelrod singled out Mitt Romney for his tepid response to Limbaugh attacking Fluke for advocating that contraception be covered by her school’s health insurance. Romney said only that he wouldn’t have used those words.

“I thought that was a cowardly answer, and it was a test of leadership, and one that he failed," the former White House official said. He added: "Rush is the de facto leader of the Republican Party. So to take him on would be to risk your own standing within the party."

Limbaugh has made what he calls a “heartfelt apology” to Fluke for his insulting language. But that hasn’t stopped the exodus of advertisers from his show, which is carried on more than 600 stations. The list of companies that have bailed on El Rushbo now totals 32, including such firms as Netflix and Capital One.