Santorum on controversial remark: I was 'tongue-tied'
January 4th, 2012
10:27 PM ET
3 years ago

Santorum on controversial remark: I was 'tongue-tied'

(CNN) - Rick Santorum said Wednesday he was “tongue-tied” this weekend and didn’t actually say a word that has sparked a firestorm among some in the African-American community.

Talking about welfare programs at an Iowa campaign stop on Sunday, the Republican presidential candidate was quoted as saying, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them someone’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

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The word “black” has become the focal point of controversy, but Santorum said Wednesday on CNN’s “John King, U.S.A.” that he didn’t recall using that particular word.

“It was probably a tongue-tied moment as opposed to something that was deliberate,” Santorum said, adding that he has watched the video several times and still can’t clearly hear the word.

The NAACP responded to his statement from Sunday, blasting the former Pennsylvania senator for “singling out” African-Americans as poor.

"Sen. Santorum's targeting of African-Americans is inaccurate and outrageous, and lifts up old race-based stereotypes about public assistance," said the group’s president, Benjamin Todd Jealous, in a statement. "He conflates welfare recipients with African-Americans, though federal benefits are in fact determined by income level.”

Jealous said that in Iowa, for example, a strong majority of welfare recipients are white.

But one day after Santorum placed a surprising second to Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses, losing by only eight votes, Santorum said the pronouncement of the word was a result of unintentional stammering that simply sounded like the word “black.”

“In fact, I’m pretty confident I didn't say ‘black.’ I started to say a word and sort of mumbled it and changed my thought. I don't recall saying black. No one in that audience heard me say that,” he said.

A review of the video shows Santorum pausing before saying the word, which sounds like "black" but could also be stumbled speech. Watch and decide for yourself here.

Santorum went on to defend his record working with African-Americans.

“There's no one that's worked more - when I was a senator from Pennsylvania - in the urban communities. Black, Hispanics, as well as whites,” Santorum said. “No one worked more with African-Americans.”

He pointed to his efforts setting up programs that pair historically black colleges with federal education funding. He also said he was involved in bringing a billion dollars in private sector growth to Chester, Pennsylvania, which has a large African-American population.

“I will match my record against any Democrat or Republican in working with African-American communities,” he said.

Also see:

Paul: Gingrich a 'chickenhawk'

Iowa outcome: What it means for the president

McCain backs former foe Romney over Senate colleague Santorum

Army soldier rallying for Paul violated military ban on political activity

Romney NH ad alleges Obama broke promises


Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • NAACP • Rick Santorum • TV-John King U.S.A.
soundoff (582 Responses)
  1. AM:Hate Radio

    Federal Benefits Are In Fact Determined By Income Level

    CBS News looked into the Racial Distribution of Food Stamps In Iowa,

    And Found 9% Of Recipients Are Black, While 84% Are[ White]

    January 5, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. Weasley

    "I'm pretty confident I didn't say Black..." Seriously, that's Santorum's response? Spoken like a true politician and coward.

    January 5, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. irene Allen from FT. Wayne, In;)

    whatevr n the heart..good or bad usually comes out! jst wanna say...there r many many successful black ppl evrywhere & wrk hard @ whatevr they do I'm that black person!. Stop the racism & stereotype..there's only 1 race,......the human race!!! (God loves evrybodi;););)

    January 5, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. JoeT

    Because in the Republican world, the only people on welfare are black. And most of them have cell phones and expensive tastes. Thank you GOP for inventing and perpetuating the myth of the "welfare queen". You've done more to destroy America's poor and middle class than any foreign enemy.

    January 5, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. sam

    rick santorum, the devout Catholic he asserts he is, needs to go to confessional immediately. Lying, I believe, is not a Catholic virtue and lying when caught red-handed is even worse.

    January 5, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. bcm

    He definitely said it. He caught himself but it's pretty clear that he said the word black. There are plenty of caucasians on public aid and content to continue to be "social parasites." This country needs to stop sending all of our jobs offshore and force people to work to support themselves and their families by limiting public aid. However, we can't do this if there are no jobs available. Also, 4 out of 10 children with health care insurance are 4 more than there were prior to Obama.

    January 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. Emma

    We kid ourselves when we believe our "slips" do not define our core self.

    January 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. Seriously?

    Funny... just the other day he admitted to saying it. So now he is tongue tied? Please Rick... if you are half the Christian you claim to be, you would tell the truth. But your ego is way bigger than your religion.

    January 5, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  9. dfitzpatrick

    This is coming from the same guy that says the TSA should openly group and discriminate Muslims when doing screenings.

    Was that a tongue-tied moment too?

    I can't remember exactly which debate it was (there's been a lot lol). I believe it was the Foreign Policy debate? Can anyone back me up and source this for others?

    January 5, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Yes I'm with Lynda and GI Joe. I and mine will be voting for THAT ONE too.Again.
    Obama 2012.

    January 5, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. A Forever Democrat

    He said "ba-lot-a" people...... such as in "a lot of" people -check it again.
    Though I'd never vote for him, it's merely poor grammer, not poor manners

    January 5, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. Jake

    oh tongue-tied...racism is totally fine in that case!

    January 5, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. Clara Moore

    Don't understand how people could have gotten the word "black" out of what he said. He definitely did not say black, unless some pronounce black as "blite" - maybe they do. There was certainly a long vowel in the word in question that sounded like an "i" to me. Nothing sounded like "ack" - nothing.

    January 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. Patrick

    IHe is an Evangelical… what is to be surprised about?

    January 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Scott

    So what? Why do Mexicans favor landscaping jobs? Oops, did I say Mexicans? The truth is the truth. Doesn't mean only Mexicans do landscaping jobs. Get over it.

    January 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. Kris

    I despise Santorum; I believe he is a religious psycho that should never hold public office. That said, I've listened repeatedly to the clip and he stammered the word "lives", similar to blithes (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/blithes) then he corrected himself and said "people's lives."

    There are plenty of idiotic things Santorum has said that he can be beaten up for; this however, is not one of them.

    January 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. GreenieInPA

    Oh, please! He didn't even come close to saying that word. Talk about grasping at straws.

    Now, if he did say that word, would he be wrong!?! Nope.

    January 5, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Shardik

    Sounds like he stumbled trying to play to his "base" and got caught.

    January 5, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. drewsov

    I'm not a Santorum fan in the least. There's a reason we kicked him out of PA and I'm glad we did. But watching the video, it doesn't sound like he said black. It sounds like he was trying to say "lives" and something else. Sounds like it comes out as "blives".

    January 5, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  20. Jasmine

    Pretty sure he said "blank" – as in "fill in the blank with whatever race you choose to denigrate". Ricky boy – ya probably should get to your closet and burn that hood before someone discovers the evidence. Just like all the republican choices, he thinks he can back pedal by making up some lame excuse like "I stumbled and said blergh" and the "stupid" American people will fall for it hook, line and sinker.

    January 5, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  21. Jim in Georgia

    Once it's out there you can't take it back...
    You've got to live your life like you are on camera 24/7... Because you are.
    Nationwide there are more white people on assistance than black people.
    You can't tell it around here but it's true.

    January 5, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  22. Logic in LA

    Not all conservatives are bigots, but let's face it- there are a large number of bigots that call themselves conservative!

    January 5, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. qubee25

    ohhh!! Rickyyyyyyyyyyyy.............wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! That was not a Freudian slip; this was one foot on a banana
    peel and the other on a land-mine.

    January 5, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. JOE

    I have a background in speech assessment and after listening to what he said, he definitely said black people.

    January 5, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  25. EdSantaFe

    This is the same jerk who blamed abortions for the smaller workforce paying into Social Security.

    January 5, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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