In a rare move for the conservative radio host, Rush Limbaugh apologized Saturday to the Georgetown University law school student he called a "slut" and "prostitute" last week.
The apology, posted to his website, said he did not mean to make a "personal attack" against Sandra Fluke. The third-year law student had recently testified before Democrats in favor of President Barack Obama's new rule requiring employers to offer health insurance plans that cover birth control.
"My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir," he wrote. "I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices."
Limbaugh's harsh words had sparked a near-immediate backlash, drawing ire from Democrats and Republicans and leading some companies to pull their advertising support for his show.
But although he apologized for the remarks, Limbaugh did not back down from his position on the contraceptive requirement.
"I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress," he wrote. "I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability?"
By Friday night, mattress companies Sleep Train and Sleep Number and mortgage lender Quicken Loans Inc. had pulled their support for his show.
"Due to Rush Limbaugh's continued inflammatory comments -- along with the valuable feedback we have received from our clients ... Quicken Loans has suspended all advertising," the company said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Sleep Number said on Twitter that the company had decided to immediately pull its advertisements because Limbaugh's statements "do not align with our values."
And Obama personally called Fluke to offer his encouragement.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week that the president called Fluke "to express his disappointment that she has been the subject of inappropriate personal attacks, and thank her for exercising her rights as a citizen to speak out on an issue of public policy."
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