After Giving Limbaugh a Bye, Romney Blasts Maher

Matthew Shelley

The battle over potty-mouthed talk show hosts is getting partisan indeed.

After taking a pass on criticizing conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh for calling a Georgetown University student a prostitute, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney used strong terms to condemn Thursday remarks by liberal talk-show host/comedian Bill Maher, who used vulgar language to describe Sarah Palin.

In an appearance on the Sean Hannity radio show, Romney said, “Frankly, what Bill Maher said, and I finally read the transcripts, I was offended, outraged that a person would say that on TV and would not have been called on the carpet before now and not apologized for it. To have the Obama campaign retain a million dollars from Bill Maher, it is simply outrageous. I don’t condone that kind of language and particularly in a public setting, a TV setting.… It’s just gone way beyond the pale.”

Romney did not stipulate which transcript he had reviewed, but Maher has used inappropriate language to attack conservative women, including Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee. Much of what he said is not publishable, but he did call Palin “a bully who sells patriotism like a pimp, and the leader of a strange family of inbred weirdos.”

President Obama personally telephoned Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke earlier this month to offer his support after Limbaugh’s comments. But Obama did not similarly intervene in the Maher controversy. White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “We are not and cannot be the arbitrator of every statement that everybody makes in the policy and political arena.” Conservative groups called on a super PAC supporting Obama’s reelection to return a $1 million contribution from Maher.

Likewise, Democrats demanded that Republicans condemn Limbaugh for his remarks, but Romney said only, “It's not the language I would have used.”

Romney and Obama have one thing in common, though. Both are calling for more civil discourse in politics. Romney told Hannity, “Republicans and Democrats disagree on issues, and we have differing viewpoints, but this level of outrageous and incendiary language has got to stop. We’re going to have to come together and deal with these deficits and take action to make America more competitive. This has just got to stop.”

On another topic, Romney was asked whether Planned Parenthood should get government funding and responded, “The answer is absolutely not. As you know, if you put money into Planned Parenthood, you’re helping to support their providing of abortions, and, look, that’s not just what’s right for the American people.”