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.”

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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. JimAR

    He stumbled on the word because he wasn't initially thinking "black." We'll never know what his first name for black people is. But, he clearly hesitates and then confidently says "black." Someone needs to tell him that most welfare recipients are white.

    January 5, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Randy

    Yeah, he didn't say "black." He said "plives." I think Santorum is the devil, but it's simply not possible for any fair, sane person to think he said "black." The claim that he said "black" is such a transparent attempt to attack him the day after people learned his name, all it can do in the long run is make him look like a victim. Please let the issue die.

    January 5, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. bk753

    Look, I don't like Santorum at all... but I don't think he said "black." Listen carefully. Sounds like he starts to say "lives" and then stumbles over to "people's lives."

    January 5, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. informed voter

    I listened to the tape several times. Santorum did not stumble on his words, he said "black people." For those of you who think this is about political correctness, you miss the point. It's not the term "black" that is offensive, it is his belief that "blacks" are the lazy ones on welfare. If you don't get what's offensive about this, you are probably a racist bigot, who agrees with this frothy man's opinion.

    January 5, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. Bib

    Oops, sounds like his mouth raced ahead of his mind. Sorry about that, chief.

    January 5, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  6. Cammie

    How about the visible reaction on the black man and the ONLY BLACK PERSON standing next to Santorum when he made his "black" not blugh, not blue, not blank, not blink comment. All the audience clapped and shouted yeah. So let him make that comment in front of a room full of blacks and lets see how well he "catches" himself again!

    Better yet, lets have one of the CNN anchors track down this black man and interview him to report first hand what he heard standing right next to him.

    Lets also do an analysis of whites on corporate, farm & oil subsidy/welfare vs. blacks on welfare.

    January 5, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. Sir Andrew

    Paging Dr Freud.

    January 5, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  8. pishaw

    So the entire paragraph was a misstatement? Rick, just because you're not very bright, doesn't mean we are ALL not very bright.

    This is what I can't stand about trash: if you hate someone, go ahead and say it. Own it. That's what a man would do. But Ricky denies it happened. Is he trying to be Newt light, thinking he can just say anything, no matter how stupid it is?

    Ricky seems like everyone else that wears Jesus on his sleeve: entirely, thoroughly, and completely dishonest.

    January 5, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. Jan P

    Tongue-tied, stumbled, or not – still sounds a lot like Carl-Henric Svanberg when he said that "BP cares about the small people." At least Carl could plead that English wasn't his primary language.

    January 5, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    Pretty simple calculus here since this is primary season:

    1. GOP/Teatroll base LOVES that he quite clearly and unmistakeably said "black."

    2. Guess whose vote he's never getting anyway?

    3. MSM won't pillory him for it anyway like he deserves...nor will it report the facts showing that his "mistake" is based on an incorrect, but intentionally promulgated, underlying misconception, particularly prevalent among conservative voters but fairly widespread anyway, that minorities receive the lion's share of social assistance.

    January 5, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. WhereIsPalin

    The man came out of nowhere to score big in the Iowa caucuses.........sorry but that was a roundtrip ticket.

    January 5, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. Tom

    Guess we know who was Ron Paul's ghost writer , now.

    January 5, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. cj

    "tongue-tied"??? or tongue-lied?

    January 5, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. Kathy

    Yea, we know santorum, we ran him out of Pennsylvania once he showed his true colors.

    January 5, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. NoOneInThatAudience

    Watch the expression on the face of the gentleman standing behind Santorum holding the mic and wearing headphones when no one heard him say "black".

    January 5, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  16. Raoul

    Hey, I thought Santorum didn't want to give tax payer money to black people! What's with the black colleges?????

    January 5, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  17. JuanVonDinklus

    Gotta love these bigots running for office – hey I can say that because as someone else commented, I just call it as I see it! (sarcasm in the previous statement that most will not get).

    January 5, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. Expat American

    Uum…Rick, you already had the Caucasian bigot vote; the Caucasian redneck vote; the Caucasian Slack Jaw Vote; and the Caucasian racist vote.
    What you are actually trying to do is garner the minority vote and the ‘other’ Caucasian vote – that is those Caucasians not included in the above-mentioned groups.
    Oh Shucks, you better start waving a Bible around or something to get yourself out of this mess.

    January 5, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. Butter My Butt And Call Me a Biscuit

    Liberals are ALWAYS one step ahead and way over the next hill in front of the Teapublicons. Progressives are ...well...progressive, and the opposite of Progressive is REgressive and that says it all. Progressive Liberals are just smarter than the REgressives ... end of story which is proven in spades by this story and Santorum's unfortunate "Google" problem.

    January 5, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  20. canuck

    He stumbled on the word "lives" I believe.

    January 5, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. mark

    His major problem is the fact that he absolutely did say "black". Stand by it and explain that instead of just letting us know that you're a liar.

    January 5, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. kjfuller7

    Folks, I truly detest Rick Santorum and can't believe that I am defending him here, but he did NOT say "black". Turn up the volume, close your eyes and listen a couple times and you will hear him say "LIVES" but then restart and say "people's lives". So many people just sit around waiting to be offended...

    January 5, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. Dale

    He didn't mean to say Black. He meant to the use the republican approved word for people of color, "macacca."

    January 5, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. cathy

    A group of us put a sound check on it and he said "Black" people lives. He is boring and a nowhere guy. He doesn't have a clue on how to lead. He's 15 min of fame is up. Go Home Rick!

    January 5, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. Bryan

    Rick at Home: "whew honey, I almost said ni**ers and at the last minute, I uttered black". Mrs. Santorum: "don't worry about it baby, a new Real Housewives of Atlanta is coming on on Sunday, the Blacks will forget about this by Monday".

    January 5, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24