WASHINGTON Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul expressed doubt on Sunday that conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh truly meant it when he apologized for calling a law student a "slut" over her support for President Barack Obama's new policy on insurance coverage of contraceptives.
"I don't think he's very apologetic. He's doing it because some people were taking their advertisements off his program. It was his bottom line that he was concerned about," Paul told the CBS program "Face the Nation."
"Yes, I think he should have apologized. I had said he used very crude language. And I think he gets over the top at times," added Paul, known for his libertarian views.
Limbaugh offered his apology to Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke, 30, in a written statement on Saturday.
"My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices," Limbaugh said.
The controversy prompted Obama to call Fluke on Friday to express his support. Several of Limbaugh's sponsors said they would stop advertising on his program following his remarks.
Fluke was caught in an election-year fight between Obama and Republicans over a policy that requires health insurance plans to cover contraception. Religious-affiliated organizations, the Roman Catholic Church and social conservatives have protested the policy as an infringement on religious liberty.
Fluke told a Democratic congressional hearing last month that female students at Georgetown, the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in the country, suffered financial hardship because contraception was not covered by their health insurance, and some had stopped taking it because of the cost.
"What does it say about the college co-ed Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? Makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex," Limbaugh said on Wednesday on his radio show.
Appearing on the NBC program "Meet the Press," Republican president candidate Newt Gingrich said, "I think it was appropriate for Rush to apologize and I'm glad he apologized."
But Gingrich added, "I am astonished at the desperation of the elite media to avoid rising gas prices, to avoid the president's apology to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, to avoid a trillion-dollar deficit, to avoid the longest period of unemployment since the Great Depression and to suddenly decide that Rush Limbaugh is the great national crisis of this week."
(Reporting By Will Dunham; editing by Todd Eastham)