President Obama discusses his phone call to Sandra Fluke

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President Obama discusses his phone call to Sandra Fluke  (2012) 
by Barack Obama
President Obama Discusses His Phone Call to Sandra Fluke. (March 6, 2012). The White House. Washington, D.C. Office of the Press Secretary. James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. Text at www.whitehouse.gov, Video at www.youtube.com.
Video of President Obama by whitehouse.gov.
Excerpted transcript from United States Government Printing Office.

President Obama discusses his phone call to Sandra Fluke


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

THE WHITE HOUSE
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

THE PRESIDENT: Aamer Madhani.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Do you believe Rush Limbaugh's apology to the Georgetown law student was sufficient and heartfelt? Do you agree with the decision of the growing number of sponsors that have decided to drop his show or stop supporting his show? And has there been a double standard on this issue? Liberal commentators have made similarly provocative or distasteful statements and there hasn't been such an outrage.

THE PRESIDENT: 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. 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.

And the reason I called Ms. Fluke is because I thought about Malia and Sasha, and one 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. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way. And I don't want them attacked or called horrible names because they're being good citizens. And I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her, and that we want to send a message to all our young people that being part of a democracy involves argument and disagreements and debate, and we want you to be engaged, and there's a way to do it that doesn't involve you being demeaned and insulted, particularly when you’re a private citizen.

Jessica Yellin.

Q Bill Mahr apologized for what he said about -- (inaudible) -- should apologize for what they said about that?

THE PRESIDENT: Jessica.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

Q Top Democrats have said that Republicans on a similar issue are engaged in a war on women. Some top Republicans say it’s more like Democrats are engaged in a war for the women’s vote. As you talk about loose talk of war in another arena and women are -- this could raise concerns among women, do you agree with the chair of your Democratic National Committee that there is a war on women?

THE PRESIDENT: Here is what I think. 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 one of the things I’ve learned being married to Michelle is I don’t need to tell her what it is that she thinks is important.

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. It is going to be driven by their view of what’s most likely to make sure they can help support their families, make their mortgage payments; who's got a plan to ensure that middle-class families are secure over the long term; what’s most likely to result in their kids being able to get the education they need to compete.

And I believe that Democrats have a better story to tell to women about how we’re going to solidify the middle class and grow this economy, make sure everybody has a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, and we got a fair set of rules of the road that everybody has to follow.

So I’m not somebody who believes that women are going to be single-issue voters. They never have been. But I do think that we’ve got a strong story to tell when it comes to women.

Q Would you prefer this language be changed?

THE PRESIDENT: Jessica, as you know, if I start being in the business of arbitrating --

Q You talk about civility.

THE PRESIDENT: And what I do is I practice it. And so I’m going to try to lead by example in this situation, as opposed to commenting on every single comment that’s made by either politicians or pundits. I would be very busy. I would not have time to do my job. That’s your job, to comment on what's said by politicians and pundits.

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This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).