Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is facing harsh criticism after accusing President Obama of using the disaster in Haiti for political gain.
"I do believe that everything is political to this president," Limbaugh said on his radio show Thursday. "Everything this president sees is a political opportunity, including Haiti, and he will use it to burnish his credentials with minorities in this country and around the world, and to accuse Republicans of having no compassion."
Limbaugh further said, “You already give to Haitian relief – it’s called the income tax," leading some to accuse him of discouraging private donations to the relief effort. Limbaugh has denied this charge, and argued the following with one of his callers:
“I also said private donations are going to be much better than a government donation. They're all going, go to the Red Cross, do other things, don't go through the government. It's just going to go through hands and bureaucracies and a dollar is going to end up being 30 cents by the time they get through with it.”
Still, Limbaugh is facing criticism from the Obama administration and other government officials. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs criticized Limbaugh's remarks at Friday’s press briefing.
"I think in times of great crisis, there are always people that say really stupid things," Gibbs said." I don't know how anybody -- I don't know how anybody could sit where he does, having enjoyed the success that he has, and not feel some measure of sorrow for what has happened in Haiti. I think to use the power of your pulpit to try to convince those not to help their brothers and sisters is sad."
Even Republicans are distancing themselves from Limbaugh.
"We appreciate President Obama's immediate response to this catastrophic tragedy, and stand ready to assist in any way," House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement. "In this pressing time of need, I know that the good faith and generosity of our citizens will no doubt help. Our Government and the American people prepared to do all that we can provide assistance, comfort and resources to the people of Haiti and their families."