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Axelrod: Limbaugh the 'de facto boss' of GOP, ‘Romney was afraid to take him on’

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Limbaugh called Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" on his radio show, but later apologized for his word choice.

On March 3, Romney told reporters at a campaign stop that Limbaugh's was "not the language" he would have used.

Some Democrats have said that both Limbaugh's apology and the former Massachusetts governor's answer are not strong enough. Earlier Friday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former Obama chief of staff, made similar connections between Romney and Limbaugh.

Axelrod also defended comedian Bill Maher, whom conservatives have pointed out has made offensive comments about women, saying that Maher does not play the same role for Democrats that Limbaugh does for Republicans. 

Maher has been under attack recently for using derogatory language in describing Republican women, including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Axelrod explained that when comparing the comedian and talk show host to Limbaugh, context is key.

“Understand that these words that Maher has used in his standup act are a little bit different than — not excusable in any way — but different than a guy with 23 million radio listeners using his broadcast platform to malign a young woman for speaking her mind in the most in the most inappropriate grotesque ways.”

In February, Maher publicly donated $1 million to a super-PAC supporting Obama's reelection.

The full interview with Axelrod will appear Thursday night on "Erin Burnett OutFront."