Heller is “using his appointed seat in the U.S. Senate to push Rush Limbaugh’s agenda,” Berkley told reporters Wednesday during a conference call.
Berkley, a Democrat, is trying to unseat Heller in a tight U.S. Senate race. He was appointed to the Senate last year to replace fellow Republican John Ensign, who resigned.
Berkley said Heller should have rebuked Limbaugh after he called student Sandra Fluke a slut because she urged lawmakers to consider the importance of contraception coverage. Berkley and other Democrats responded by asking the Republican House leadership to condemn the comments from Limbaugh, who has since apologized.
Heller’s campaign said Heller does not agree with the radio host.
“Dean Heller thinks Mr. Limbaugh’s comments are offensive and have no place in public discourse,” said spokeswoman Chandler Smith, adding that if Berkley “has a problem with Mr. Limbaugh, maybe she should attack him.”
Berkley has taken an outspoken stance against Heller’s birth control views in recent days. She called him anti-women last week for voting for a measure that would have allowed some employers to opt out of portions of the federal health care law, such as birth control coverage, because of moral objections. At the time, Heller said he supports religious freedom and noted that women already have access to birth control.
Berkley has also slammed Heller for opposing Planned Parenthood funding, calling his positions a throwback to the 1950s.
Pressed about her comments Wednesday, Berkley conceded that she doesn’t really think Heller has voted the way he has because he is anti-women.
Under the federal health care law passed in 2010, women will get guaranteed access to birth control without co-pays or premiums no matter where they work by 2013.
Democrats said the law is about preventative care, while Republicans argue that the law violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom by forcing insurers and employers to pay for contraception for workers even if the employers’ faith forbids its use.
Berkley supports the law. Heller doesn’t.