Senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod weighed in Wednesday on the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy, calling Mitt Romney's response to the conservative radio host's comments "cowardly."
In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Axelrod discussed the political fallout from Limbaugh's inflammatory remarks, criticizing Republican leaders like Romney for not taking a harsher stance against the popular radio personality.
"Rush is the de facto leader of the Republican party," Axelrod said. "So to take him on would be to risk your own standing within the party."
Last week, Romney made a brief comment about the Fluke incident, saying that Limbaugh calling Fluke a "slut" was "not the language I would have used."
"What about the spirit of what was said?" Axelrod asked of Romney's response. "I thought that was a cowardly answer, and it was a test of leadership, and one that he failed."
Axelrod continued, "Some folks are willing to stand up and say this was wrong, and I applaud those who did in both parties."
Axelrod also went after Romney on Twitter last week, writing, "Rush's vile, appalling assault on Sandra Fluke deserves universal condemnation. How can folks who calls themselves leaders walk away?"
He later mocked Romney's statement on the issue, writing "Wow. Profiles in Courage." He added, "And when Mitt says it's 'not the language I would of used,' what does that mean? What about the spirit of what Rush said? Was that OK?"
Axelrod also told Cooper on Wednesday that he thought it was "entirely appropriate" for President Obama to call Fluke about the incident.
"The president sought to comfort a young woman who had been vilified nationally for speaking her mind on a matter of importance to her," Axelrod said.
Although Limbaugh apologized for his comments, his verbal attack on Georgetown Law student Fluke continues to generate controversy. Many of Limbaugh's advertisers have decided to pull spots from his syndicated radio show, and a number of high profile politicians and media personalities have repudiated his comments.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has raised $1.1 million in its "War On Women" fundraising effort, also drew attention to Limbaugh's remarks in an email to supporters, calling on Democrats to sign a petition asking Republican leaders to condemn the radio host.
In the interview with CNN, Axelrod brushed off the idea that the president was capitalizing off Limbaugh's remarks.
"I guess Rush was in collusion with us by being vile and inappropriate in his comments," Axelrod said sarcastically. "No, that's ridiculous."
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