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Obama on Rush Limbaugh Apology: "Don't Know his Heart"

Even though he interjected himself into the conversation Friday with a phone call, President Obama weighed carefully into Rush Limbaugh's apology to a Georgetown law student whom he called a "slut" over her comments about the government providing contraception as part of its health care mandate.

Obama was asked at a press conference Tuesday whether or not he felt that Limbaugh's written apology over the weekend was sufficient and if he thinks more sponsors should drop from the popular conservative talk radio show.

He gave a measured response, saying, "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 said.

Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke found herself in a swarm of controversy after appearing before a Congressional panel supporting the administration's position of mandating employers, including Catholic institutions like Georgetown, provide contraception as part of the government's new health care law.

Fluke's position and comments provided fodder from both sides of the aisle. Conservatives charged that the government was infringing on religious freedom, and that essentially taxpayers are paying for recreational activity and could spread beyond sex and be anything then.

Limbaugh said that he thought she was a "prostitute" and "slut" since the government was providing something of monetary value, in this case birth control pills, for her to have sex. Several sponsors have dropped from his show since he made the remarks.

The talk show host issued a written apology over the weekend saying in part, "For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke."

Democrats railed that it's a women's right issues, with the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., even saying the GOP is trying to go back to the 1950s and waging a war on women.

Obama made a personal phone call Friday to Fluke in support of her and saying he thought the attacks against her were in appropriate.

Tuesday he elaborated and said he was thinking of his daughters, Sasha and Malia when he made the call. "[O]ne 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," he said.

The administration has been in a heated debate with the Catholic church over the issue, who morally opposes contraception and charged it was impeding on their religious freedom by forcing them to provide something against their religious beliefs.

The White House later offered what they call an "accommodation" that makes health insurance companies provide the contraception and not the churches. The Catholic church still says the "accommodation" isn't enough.

He was also asked if there was a double standard, because liberal commentators like Ed Schultz and Bill Maher have made similar statements and didn't seem to get the same kind of coverage and anger.

Obama didn't specifically address the double standard, but said the rhetoric could improve all around.

"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," Obama said.

On whether or not he agreed with Wasserman-Schultz's comments about it being a war on women, Obama also waged cautiously.

"Women are going to make up their own mind in this election about who is advancing the issues that they care most deeply about... And there are millions of strong women around the country who are going to make their own determination about 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," the president said.

He added that he ultimately thinks that Democrats have the "better story" when it comes to issues related to women.

Limbaugh's radio show is heard by up to 20 million people a week in on hundreds of stations across the United States, according to Clear Channel.