Stepping into an emerging culture clash over women, President Barack Obama made a supportive phone call Friday to a law student who testified before Congress about the need for birth-control coverage, only to be called a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh.
For Obama, it was an emphatic plunge into the latest flare-up on social issues. Democratic officeholders and liberal advocacy groups have accused Republicans of waging a “war on women” because of GOP stances on contraception and abortion rights, and Limbaugh’s tirade on his radio talk show was seen as an escalation.
In addition to her call from the president, the third-year Georgetown University law student, Sandra Fluke, was backed by members of Congress, women’s groups and the administration and faculty at her Roman Catholic university.
Demands for Limbaugh’s sponsors to pull their ads from his show rocketed through cyberspace, and at least three companies, Quicken Loans and bedding retailers Sleep Train and Sleep Number, bowed to the pressure.
By calling Fluke and injecting himself into the Limbaugh controversy, Obama sent a message to more than one law student. He was reaching out to young voters and women — two groups whose support he needs in this re-election year.